As if there wasn’t enough to dissect and make sense of, last week we saw a major shakeup in the Parliamentary cabinet, with Suzanne Anton being swapped out for Coralee Oakes, amongst other shuffling. Framed in ways that vary from one media outlet to another, there is one point that remains consistent regardless of whose publication you may read it in:
Suzanne Anton’s handling of the April 1 reforms has been alarmingly unsatisfactory – and the government recognizes this.
At face value, acknowledgement of this point is surely a positive thing. With the instalment of Minister Oakes, much of the focus has now shifted to this news and how she will move liquor laws forward (or not). Someone recently asked me if this means that the report outlining recommendations is less relevant now that Anton is out – to which I replied, “absolutely”. Here’s why:
The question of whether the recommendations implemented to date were in fact the same recommendations suggested by report authors EY is extremely important. Were these recommendations disregarded in favour of ones that better served our provincial government and not the taxpayer? And if the actions taken thus far were in fact in line with the recommendations made in the original report, why is the provincial government fighting so hard to suppress these details?
This week, we look at Section 12 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act:
Cabinet and local public body confidences
12 (1) The head of a public body must refuse to disclose to an applicant information that would reveal the substance of deliberations of the Executive Council or any of its committees, including any advice, recommendations, policy considerations or draft legislation or regulations submitted or prepared for submission to the Executive Council or any of its committees.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to
(a) information in a record that has been in existence for 15 or more years,
(b) information in a record of a decision made by the Executive Council or any of its committees on an appeal under an Act, or
(c) information in a record the purpose of which is to present background explanations or analysis to the Executive Council or any of its committees for its consideration in making a decision if
(i) the decision has been made public,
(ii) the decision has been implemented, or
(iii) 5 or more years have passed since the decision was made or considered.
(3) The head of a local public body may refuse to disclose to an applicant information that would reveal
(a) a draft of a resolution, bylaw or other legal instrument by which the local public body acts or a draft of a private Bill, or
(b) the substance of deliberations of a meeting of its elected officials or of its governing body or a committee of its governing body, if an Act or a regulation under this Act authorizes the holding of that meeting in the absence of the public.
(4) Subsection (3) does not apply if
(a) the draft of the resolution, bylaw, other legal instrument or private Bill or the subject matter of the deliberations has been considered in a meeting open to the public, or
(b) the information referred to in that subsection is in a record that has been in existence for 15 or more years.
(5) The Lieutenant Governor in Council by regulation may designate a committee for the purposes of this section.
(6) A committee may be designated under subsection (5) only if
(a) the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers that
(i) the deliberations of the committee relate to the deliberations of the Executive Council, and
(ii) the committee exercises functions of the Executive Council, and
(b) at least 1/3 of the members of the committee are members of the Executive Council.
(7) In subsections (1) and (2), “committee” includes a committee designated under subsection (5). “
As with the other three Sections, the task at hand is to search through public records of other requests, and find instances where the exercising of this Section was ultimately overturned in an appeal or review of an application. The challenge? There are a massive number of records to go through, and will take a great deal of patience in searching them.
Fortunately, we have resources like the Canadian Legal Information Institute with which to utilize in this process.
This link will bring you to the page where you can search through records that cite Section 12 as a reason for rejecting a FOIPPA request.
How can you help? Dig into those records, and if you come across cases where a decision based around this Section was overturned, send me
a link to the document. As I conduct my own research, I will add it to a shortlist of potentially useful references that I will review with legal professionals in the next phase of this appeal process.
Remember: this impacts your wallets, and your right to fair pricing. Working together to speak out and fight back against these changes to law are the only way we will win the changes we want. We are seeing changes as a result of our actions, but we must keep up the pressure to make sure it works out. Next week, we’ll look at the second Section cited in the rejection of every FOIPPA request submitted.
This is far from over; in fact, we’re only just getting started.
CAMRA BC – Vancouver Branch