Monday, January 29, 2007

Southend Halifax School Protest - January 24 2007

Congratulations to the parents and families of three Halifax schools who demanded and received more information than they were originally offered on plans to roll the three schools into one larger school.

About 150 people turned out on Wednesday, January 24 to hear and question the Administrator of the Halifax Regional School Board. The group put forward other proposals and won a promise from HRSB that nothing would be decided until there was much more consultation with the parents of the three schools: École LeMarchant St Thomas, St. Mary’s and, Inglis Street.

Organizers are to be commended for demonstrating that if people are united and determined authorities will listen and react.

The mission of the Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia includes encouraging citizens to get engaged in the political process. see the Jan 24th article in the Chronicle Herald

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia would like to welcome Dulcie McCallum, former Ombudsman for the Province of British Columbia, to the role of Nova Scotia's latest Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Review Officer as announced by the Nova Scotia Department of Justice yesterday, January 11, 2007.

The Coalition is encouraged to see the Province take action on this issue and looks forward to working with Ms. McCallum in promoting openness and accountability within the province of Nova Scotia.

see the Jan 11th announcement from the Department of Justice

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Position Filled: Financial Officer

The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia would like to welcome Indranil Dutta as our new Financial Officer.

Greg Pemberton
RTKNS Web Admin


2007 Greg Pemberton
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Two members of the board of the RTKNS Coalition, and an active volunteer went to the legislature on Monday evening, January 8, 2007 to deliver a letter written to all MLAs to ask for their support for three recommendations for improving the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP): lower the fees for using the Act (the highest in Canada); make the Review Office an office of the legislature (as it is in every other jurisdiction in Canada); and make it an offence to reveal the names of applicants except those who must have the information in order to process the application. (See letter on website)

The Liberal Party opposition has already tabled a bill that would lower the fees. On Monday night the Liberal member for Halifax Clayton Park, Diana Whelan, introduced a notice of motion supporting the recommendations found in the letter. (See notice of motion on website.)

The interim Liberal leader, Michel Samson, came to the lobby to meet our delegation.

The Minister of Justice, the Honourable Murray Scott, also came out of the legislature to meet briefly with our delegation and offered to meet again at a time he was not required to be in his seat. He reaffirmed that the Department was seriously considering the effect of the application fees on Nova Scotians’ right to information. The coalition recently received a reply from the Minister to an earlier letter from the coalition. (See website)

The leader of the Official Opposition, Darrell Dexter (New Democratic Party), introduced the delegation from the floor of the legislature while we sat in the gallery, and met briefly with us later in the evening. The Opposition Justice Critic, Kevin Deveaux, met with the delegation for twenty minutes in the Legislative Library.

Other MLA’s approached us throughout the evening.

The delegation believed it saw a very positive attitude towards improving the FOIPOP Act.

During the session of the legislature before Christmas, a Select Committee on Participation in the Democratic Process was announced. We believe the intention is to hold meetings throughout the province. We encourage those who are interested in openness and accountability in government to appear before the committee when it comes to town. Let them know you share the RTKNS Coalition’s firm view that there cannot be a successful democracy without citizen participation in the process and without access to government information.

Darce Fardy
Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia
(902) 422-1481

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on FOI Fees:

The law, if it provides for a levy of a fee for getting information must ensure that the fee is reasonable and does not act as a deterrent for asking information and does not end up debarring information from the disadvantaged groups who cannot afford the fees. The law must provide for waiver of fees in certain circumstances.

CHRI has a Right to Information site that provides a guide to what good FOI legislation should include. Links to the site below.

What should a [Right to Information] law contain?
Minimum Standards For Maximum Disclosure

CHRI "believes that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active participation of civil society acting in concert is vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights."

CHRI's Right to Information site

Greg Pemberton
RTKNS Web Admin