Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Diana Whalen is the second to respond to Darce's query on Freedom of Information views sent to all four of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party leadership candidates. We welcome her comments and thank her for supporting our cause in the Legislature back in January of this year.

Greg Pemberton
RTKNS Web Administrator

Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 10:09 AM
Subject: Re: Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia

Dear Mr. Fardy:

Thank you for the opportunity to give my views on Freedom of Information. First, let me agree with you that transparency and openness are important in the efforts to re-engage citizens and voters in the electoral system.

You may recall that this past January, I introduced a Resolution in the Legislature calling upon the Government to reduce the Freedom of Information fees, and to make the position of Freedom of Information officer report to the Legislature. I believe both of these measures would make information more accessible to citizens, and reinforce the importance of transparency and openness in our democracy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

This response to Darce's query on right to know views is from Mike Smith, the first from one of the four candidates in the Nova Scotia Liberal Leadership Race 2007. We greatly appreciate Mr. Smith taking the time and making the effort to provide us with his opinions on freedom of information.

Greg Pemberton
RTKNS Web Admin

Received: Thursday, March 22, 2007 10:31 AM

Dear Mr. Fardy,

Thank you for your email. Thank you also for your recent article in the Herald.

One of the most significant and important changes brought in with the Municipal Government Act was clarity around the practice of in camera decisions. I support the principles set out in the legislation and as Mayor and Warden adhered strictly to the principle of openness and to the belief in the limited application of the exceptions when an in camera meeting can be held. I am confident the media that covered Council in the last ten years support that view.

The cost of providing access to public records is part of the cost of doing the business of government. The fees in place presently are a disincentive to access. I cannot comment specifically on the fees that should be imposed but I do believe that the costs should be limited to a modest recovery of actual out of pocket costs like photocopying. With access to electronic storage it seems to me that even those costs would be unnecessary.

I am reminded of the recent controversy between AIMS and various school boards and the difficulty that they encountered in getting access to basic information critical to issues of accountability. In that case I recall it was not just the cost of access, which would have been in the thousands of dollars, but the fact that the school boards were not keeping information in a way that was easily accessible to the public. This suggests an institutional embrace of openness is required.


Mike Smith

This email was sent out to candidates in the Nova Scotia Liberal Party Leadership Race coming up in April 2007 in order to discover their views on the public's right to know. We will be posting the responses as they come in.

Greg Pemberton
RTKNS Web Admin


The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia is devoted to getting Nova Scotians re-engaged in the political process and more likely to vote. We believe that using our Freedom of Information legislation is a major step towards this objective. We are interested in your views on our Freedom of Information legislation and, in particular, the user fees which are the highest in Canada. We want the fees to be eliminated or at least considerably reduced.

Your comments will be appreciated and will appear on our website.

Darce Fardy
Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia welcomes to our Board, Charles Cirtwill, the Acting President of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), an independent economic and social policy think tank.

Charles has a keen interest in and knowledge of Nova Scotia's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Recently, on behalf of AIMS, he used the Act to seek statistics from the Halifax Regional School Board. The response he received prompted him to to ask the FOIPOP Review Officer to review the Board's decision.