20 November 2013

Dunderdale’s Bill 29 “a dramatic step backwards” for transparency in NL #nlpoli

On Monday,  Premier Kathy Dunderdale blew off any questions in the House of Assembly about Bill 29 with the comment that the centre for Law and Democracy said the province was third in the country for transparency.

Well, as regular readers well know, the Premier is not usually right about many things and this is a fine example. 

The Premier referred to a right to know report for Canada, part of an international effort, issued by the Centre for Law and Democracy.  Indeed, Newfoundland and Labrador placed third among the provinces, territories, and the federal government.

But that’s not even close to the the whole story.  The awful truth is in the details.

Here’s what CLD said in the comments on the province’s chapter:

Comments: The amendments to Newfoundland's [sic] Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act contained in Bill 29 significantly weakened the legal framework by expanding the exceptions regime, limiting the power and efficacy of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and excluding practically all cabinet documents from disclosure. At a time when the right to information is on the march around the world, Newfoundland's proposed legislative changes present a dramatic step backwards for that jurisdiction. [Emphasis added]

Bill 29 “significantly weakened” the legal framework underpinning the public’s right to government information.  What’s more, the changes are a “dramatic step backwards” for Newfoundland and Labrador.

There’s more and it’s actually worse both for the Premier and for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Newfoundland and Labrador has the third highest number of laws that override the access to information legislation (24).

“Every access law in Canada contains a massively overbroad exception for internal government deliberations that fails to conform to international standards.”  [Emphasis added]  Felix Collins must be losing his mind at the thought the wogs are better than we are.