Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Freedom of information right of every citizen, says minister

Freedom of information right of every citizen, says minister
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
By Nisar Mahmood
PESHAWAR: Freedom of information is the right of every citizen and the NWFP government will support any effort or step taken by the federal government for access to information, said Provincial Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain here Tuesday.

"Injustices are being done to the people due to their inaccessibility to the information," he said while addressing a daylong seminar on 'Embedding Freedom of Information' organised by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE).

The minister said it was a fact that governments often showed reluctance to frame laws, and if a law was enacted, then its implementation remained a problem, he added. Iftikhar said people also had little knowledge of the laws that was why their rights were usurped. The minister said access to information should be made easy and cheap and people should have the right to know each and every act of their rulers round the clock.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

US Rep. Fattah touts education tax credit for public service bill

Official House Photo of Congressman Chaka Fatt...Image via Wikipedia

Posted on Tue, Dec. 16, 2008

Fattah touts education tax credit for public service bill

By Kristen A. Graham

Inquirer Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah yesterday touted a bill that would give all college students who agree to perform 100 hours of public service a $4,000 refundable tax credit.

Speaking to a roomful of college and university presidents from around the region, Fattah (D., Pa.) said that when Congress convenes next month, he will introduce the American Opportunity Tax Credit Act, a bill Fattah says reflects President-elect Barack Obama's commitment to higher education and a call for more public service.

Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

UK Quarterly statistical releases on the handling of requests for information

The Palace of Westminster at night seen from t...Image via Wikipedia

Freedom of Information Act 2000: Statistics on implementation in central government

Quarterly statistical releases on the handling of requests for information made under the Act by 43 central government bodies, including all departments of state. Figures are derived from manual returns submitted by participating bodies, and cover timeliness of response, outcomes of requests, and usage of the Act's appeal processes.

The annual report covers the implementation and operation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in central government. It draws together the quarterly statistics for the year and analyses the longer term trends.

In addition to Ministry of Justice professional and production staff, pre-release access to the quarterly statistics of up to 24 hours is granted to the following postholders:

Ministry of Justice: Secretary of State, Minister of State, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (House of Lords), Permanent Secretary, Information Director, Head of Information Policy Division, Head of FOI Policy and Strategy Unit, Head of Data Access and Compliance Unit, special advisers and the relevant press officer.

Other monitored bodies: The statistics are compiled with the assistance of freedom of information officers in each monitored body, although these officials do not have pre-release access to the final quarterly bulletin prior to publication.

Inserted from <>

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Feds get poor grade for accountability: Democracy Watch

Feds get poor grade for accountability: Democracy Watch

3 days ago

OTTAWA — An accountability watchdog says the Conservative federal government gets a D grade this year for transparency and democratic reform.

Democracy Watch says the Harper government has strengthened or tried to strengthen accountability in a number of areas, but has weakened it in others, resulting in the poor grade overall.

The report says the government could have earned a B grade had it implemented all the reforms promised in the 2006 election campaign. But it hasn't acted on 27 changes it promised, the group says.

It also says the government has left a lot of loopholes that hurt accountability and transparency and should bring in a tougher accountability act.


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Monday, December 15, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada buildingImage via Wikipedia

Access to information not a right, top court told

Kirk Makin, Globe and Mail

December 15th, 2008

Governments would be fully justified if they were to eliminate all freedom of information provisions in one fell swoop, an Ontario government lawyer told the Supreme Court of Canada yesterday.

In a forceful submission at a landmark appeal involving the right of citizens to obtain information from government, Ontario lawyer Daniel Guttman maintained that, far from being a constitutional right, access to information is a privilege bestowed on the citizenry.

He urged the judges not to impose any obligation on governments to provide information upon request, since to do so would set a precedent that "runs roughshod" over the court's gradual, careful approach to developing the Charter right to free expression.

However, lawyers for the Criminal Lawyers Association said the province has adopted a cavalier approach to information assembled by public servants at public expense."My friend submits that access to information in this country is nothing more than a revocable gift," said David Stratas, a lawyer spearheading the CLA's quest to obtain a suppressed police report on the botched prosecution of two men for the 1998 murder of Toronto gangster Dominic Racco.

"My friend kept saying the sky is falling, and presented images of documents flying out of government files," Mr. Stratas continued. But in reality, he said, the CLA is seeking only the right for provincial and federal information commissioners to release any document with a "compelling public interest" component that clearly outweighs government arguments in favour of confidentiality.

He warned that, taken to its logical conclusion, the Ontario government's approach could be twisted by a future government to justify imposing absolute secrecy over its activities. "History has shown that one of the first things that anti-democratic leaderships do is to pull a curtain of secrecy around their activities," Mr. Stratas said.

Mr. Guttman and lawyers for virtually every province strenuously opposed the CLA's attempt to have the court recognize that, within the right to free expression there is necessarily a right to receive information in government files that would inform public debate.


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Republic of LiberiaImage via Wikipedia

Liberia Coalition re-affirms support Freedom Information

December 14, 2008 at 8:25 pm (Uncategorized)

The Liberia Coalition for Free Expression with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa has concluded a two-day sensitization workshop on the draft Freedom of Information (FOI) Law currently before the National Legislature for some key government ministries and agencies. The forum was the second of a series of sensitization campaign and was attended by Public Relations Managers, Research Analysts, and Documentation Managers, among others.

According to the Coordinator of the Liberia Coalition for Free Expression Calixte Hessou, the workshop aimed to expose policy makers as well as custodians of public information at public institutions to the arguments in favor of freedom of information, good practice standard of FOI law-making and practical issues for consideration when implementing FOI.

Mr. Hessou in a release said access to information is a vital mechanism for enhancing good governance.


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Friday, December 12, 2008

Backwell fights back against FOI trio - The Weston Mercury

Backwell fights back against FOI trio


12 December 2008


SCORES of Backwell residents are uniting to take a stand against three people who have been bombarding the parish council with FOI requests.


Michael Phillis, of Lotts Avenue, is appealing for more villagers to join them to show parish councillors that they have the support of the residents.


Since January the parish council has had more than 27 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from three people - two of whom do not even live in the village.


Pat Lloyd from Backwell has put in 13 requests and Maureen Sage and Tom Wilson from Nailsea have put in 12 each.


Mr Phillis said: "Our goal is to stop this nonsense which is costing the parish unnecessary money.


"Two of them don't even live in the village and they're spending village money but not contributing to it which really is irksome.


"All the requests are causing serious disruption to the council's day to day business.


"Each enquiry, legally, has to be replied to after painstaking research and administration time.


"If, after the clerk has taken legal advice on confidentiality and data protection, the information cannot be released, an appeal is instigated by the enquirer, creating yet more workload.


"To date two appeals have been dismissed and one has yet to be decided. Costs so far are already £1,000 and are still mounting, draining ratepayers' funds that were intended and should be properly spent on the upkeep and welfare of the village."


Concerned residents, Michael Phillis, John Brain and Michael Pratt, sent the three information seekers a letter asking for a meeting to find out why they were submitting so many requests.



Cayman Islands Freedom of Information start date set

Cayman Islands Freedom of Information start date set

Published on Friday, December 12, 2008


GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands: The Governor of the Cayman Islands Stuart Jack has announced that the Freedom of Information Law, 2007, will come into force on Monday, 5 January 2009.


The order came shortly after the Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts tabled the Freedom of Information (General) Regulations, 2008, in the Legislative Assembly (LA).



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Supreme Court BuildingImage by Lone Primate via Flickr

Secrecy under assault

December 11, 2008

What are the limits of government secrecy in a free society?

That weighty poser will be put to no less a deliberative body than Canada's Supreme Court today in a one-day challenge that could fundamentally alter the public's right to know. The federal government, along with seven provinces led by Ontario, will argue for judges to show caution when deciding whether citizens have the constitutional backing for more open government as part of the Charter of Rights guarantee protecting freedom of expression.

Various groups, including media organizations and civil liberties advocates, have grown weary of increasing government foot-dragging and weak access laws that allow them to maintain a cone of silence around the most basic pieces of information -- information cheerfully dispensed by most Western democracies.

As Ontario's independent assistant information and privacy commissioner Tom Mitchinson told Canwest News Service, "Government's denial of access to information of public interest concerning the administration of our democratic institutions deprives the public of the building blocks of political expression."


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Is access to gov't info a constitutional right?

Is access to gov't info a constitutional right?



December 10, 2008



OTTAWA -- Should access to government information be elevated to a constitutional right? The Supreme Court of Canada, in a massive legal challenge Thursday that is drawing more than a dozen interveners, will consider whether access-to-information laws, which permit the public to see documents that the state seeks to keep secret, are so restrictive that they violate freedom of expression.

The Ontario government will try to keep the constitutional door closed, urging the court to consider that restricted access to government information "is part of our history and our constitutional tradition" and "the Canadian Charter was not intended to turn this state of affairs on its head."

The appeal reaches the court at a time when governments face growing criticism for being shrouded in secrecy amid toothless access laws, which are under fire for containing so many exemptions that they block the release of information.

"While everyone has a protected right to speak to government, including the right to request information, there is no correlative Charter right to an answer from government," an Ontario's legal brief outlined succinctly.



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Short Guide to deciding whether a request is vexatious (UK - ICO)

Freedom of Information Act


Vexatious requests – a short guide


3 December 2008



The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) gives rights of public access to information held by public authorities. This is part of a series of guidance notes to help public authorities understand their obligations and to promote good practice.

This is a short guide for public authorities on how to identify a vexatious request. More detailed information is available in our Vexatious and repeated requests guidance.





• Section 14(1) states that public authorities do not have to comply with vexatious requests. There is no public interest test.


• To decide whether a request is vexatious, you need to look at its context and history. The key question is whether the request is likely to cause unjustified distress, disruption or irritation.


• In particular, you should consider the following:

.. Can the request fairly be seen as obsessive?

.. Is the request harassing the authority or causing distress to staff?

.. Would complying with the request impose a significant burden in terms of expense and distraction?

.. Is the request designed to cause disruption or annoyance?

.. Does the request lack any serious purpose or value?


• If a request is vexatious, you do not have to provide any information or confirm or deny whether you hold it. However, you will usually still need to issue a refusal notice (unless you have previously issued one and it would be unreasonable to issue another).



Relevant factors


Deciding whether a request is vexatious is a balancing exercise, taking into account all the circumstances of the case. The key question is whether the request is likely to cause unjustified distress, disruption or irritation.


To help you identify a vexatious request, we recommend that you consider the following questions, taking into account the context and history of the request:


• Can the request fairly be seen as obsessive? If so, this will be a strong indication that a request is vexatious. Relevant factors could include a very high volume and frequency of correspondence, requests for information the requester has already seen, or a clear intention to use the request to reopen issues that have already been considered (particularly if there has been an independent investigation). The wider context and history of a request will be important here, as it is unlikely that a one-off request could be obsessive.


• Is the request harassing the authority or causing distress to staff? The request must be likely to harass a reasonable person. It is the request itself that is relevant rather than any potential embarrassment resulting from disclosure. Relevant issues here could include a very high volume and frequency of correspondence, the use of hostile, abusive or offensive language, an unreasonable fixation on an individual member of staff, or mingling requests with accusations and complaints.


• Would complying with the request impose a significant burden in terms of expense and distraction? You need to look at more than just the cost of compliance here. You should consider whether responding would divert or distract staff from their usual work. However, if resources are your only concern, you should instead consider section 12 (exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit). For more information on using section 12, see our guidance on Using the Fees Regulations and Redacting and extracting information.


• Is the request designed to cause disruption or annoyance? As this factor relates to the actual intention of the requester, it can be difficult to prove. Cases where this is a strong argument will be rare. However, if a requester states that the request is actually meant to cause maximum inconvenience, the request will almost certainly be vexatious.


• Does the request lack any serious purpose or value? The FOIA is not generally concerned with why requesters want information, so an apparent lack of value should not be enough on its own to make a valid request vexatious. However, if you can show a real lack of value this may add weight to arguments under the other headings above. On the other hand, if there is a serious purpose or value behind a request, this may be enough to prevent it being vexatious, even if it imposes a significant burden and is harassing or distressing your staff. If the request forms part of a wider campaign or pattern of requests, the purpose or value must justify both the request itself and the lengths to which the campaign or pattern of behaviour has been taken.


To judge a request vexatious you should be able to make relatively strong arguments under several of these headings. You do not need to be able to answer yes to every question.


The questions are likely to overlap. The weight you can place on each issue will depend on the circumstances, and there may also be other case-specific factors to consider.


Context and history


You should take account of the context and history of the request when considering the questions above. An individual request may not be vexatious in isolation, but in context it may form part of a wider pattern of vexatious behaviour (for example if there is a wider dispute, or it is the latest in a lengthy series of overlapping requests or other correspondence).


However, you should not automatically refuse a request simply because it is made in the context of a dispute or forms part of a series of requests. You must still ask whether the request is vexatious in that context by considering the questions listed above.

An important point is that it is the request, not the requester, that must be vexatious. You should not automatically refuse a request just because the individual has caused problems in the past. You must look at the request itself.


Example case


In Coggins v Information Commissioner EA/2007/0130 (13 May 2008), the requester suspected that the council had fraudulently charged an elderly lady for care services not provided. A council investigation, a Committee for Social Care investigation and the police all found no evidence of dishonesty. But the requester persisted with the allegations and made 20 requests in 73 letters and 17 postcards over a two-year period.


The Tribunal found the request vexatious because:

• The volume and haranguing tone of the correspondence indicated that the request was obsessive, and the requester was not justified in persisting with his campaign in the light of three independent enquiries.

• The requests had affected the health and wellbeing of certain officers having to deal with them.

• The volume, length and overlapping nature of the requests would be a distraction from the council's core functions and impose a significant burden.

• The genuine desire to uncover fraud was a serious and proper purpose, but it did not justify persisting with the campaign to these lengths.



Other considerations


If a requester keeps asking for information already provided to them or refused, you may find it easier to refuse the request as "repeated". For more information, see our detailed guidance on Vexatious and repeated requests.


Some types of requests should not be considered as vexatious. Examples include:

• Requests for information that should be published under your publication scheme – you will need to provide this information, or direct the requester to where it is available (eg your website).

• Subject access requests – requests for the individual's own personal data must be dealt with under the Data Protection Act 1998 and cannot be vexatious. See our Checklist for handling requests for personal information (subject access requests).

• Requests for environmental information – you must consider these under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. You cannot refuse requests as vexatious, but you can refuse a request that is "manifestly unreasonable", subject to a public interest test. See An introduction to the EIR exceptions.



More information


See our detailed guidance on Vexatious and repeated requests.


This guidance will be reviewed and considered from time to time in line with new decisions of the Information Commissioner, Tribunal and courts on freedom of information cases. It is a guide to our general recommended approach to this area, although individual cases will always be decided on the basis of their particular circumstances.




If you need any more information about this or any other aspect of freedom of information, please contact us.


Phone: 08456 30 60 60

01625 54 57 45

Email: please use the online enquiry form on our website




3 December 2008

So far, so good…now tell us more - News

Wednesday, 10th December 2008

So far, so good…now tell us more


Published Date: 10 December 2008

By Michael Howie




A NEW era of openness in public life was heralded when the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act came into force in January 2005.


Since then, Scotland's citizens have had the statutory right to access all information held by public authorities.


It has taken time for local authorities, hospitals, prisons and other public services to adjust to the new regime, but most observers say there is no doubt it has made the business of government – with a small "g" at least – more transparent.


But there are some signs the public is beginning to see a rolling-back of this openness.


A survey published today shows the number of people who believe public authorities are becoming more accountable and open has fallen to 59 per cent from 64 per cent last year.


Some authorities are reporting a drop in Freedom of Information (FoI) requests. Take Scotland's police forces. Last year, they handled more than 3,100 requests for information under the act – a drop of 12 per cent on the previous year.


There is also frustration at the number of services which are able to remain shrouded in secrecy – because the bodies that provide them are exempt from the legislation.



Full Article: <>

Home Office reveals FOI policies - BBC NEWS | UK

Home Office reveals FOI policies


FOI requests are often looked at by government ministers

An email sent by mistake from the Home Office to the BBC has revealed that freedom of information requests are often first reviewed by ministers.

The document also shows how such requests are first assessed for their controversy level.

A final decision is then made on whether or not to disclose information.

The Information Commissioner's Office says it intends to remind the Home Office of its obligation to comply with Freedom of Information legislation.

The document sent to the BBC separates requests into those that have to be seen by a minister before information is released, and those that do not.

It lists Freedom of Information requests made in September and makes clear whether the request has come from the media.

This is despite the Freedom of Information Act stating that applicant's identities should not affect decisions.



Tuesday, December 09, 2008

NS Court: WCB must name firms with most injuries

The Chronicle HeraldImage via Wikipedia

Court: WCB must name firms with most injuries

By KELLY SHIERS Staff Reporter

Tue. Dec 9 - 2:55 PM

Nova Scotians have the right to know which workplaces in the province have experienced the highest number of injuries, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has ruled.

The Chronicle-Herald has been battling to name those companies since Feb. 2007, when it asked the Workers Compensation Board to identify the 25 companies that reported the most accidents and injuries in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

This newspaper was forced to go to Nova Scotia Supreme Court to obtain the information after the WCB defied a decision by the province's top freedom of information watchdog to release the names.

"I accept that the disclosure of the names of the 25 employers with the most workplace accidents could embarrass them," Justice Gregory Warner wrote in a decision released Tuesday. "It should only stigmatize them if they can improve their safety record and do not do so."

Justice Warner said he rejected the argument that the embarrassment would be permanent, or long term.

"On the contrary, disclosure should encourage a workplace with a comparatively poor safety record to improve its safety record.



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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Slow steps towards openness | The Australian

Slow steps towards openness



Sean Parnell, FOI editor | December 05, 2008

Article from: 

The Australian


QUEENSLAND Premier Anna Bligh's long-promised improvements to government transparency have edged forward with the release of draft legislation and two new websites, but further progress under the new Right to Information regime is likely to be slow.

Making good her promise to overhaul the flawed freedom of information system, Ms Bligh declared yesterday she would see through the changes cabinet initiated in its first meeting after former premier Peter Beattie retired. "With the release of this material today, we take one step closer to becoming the most transparent and open government in Australia," the Premier said.

She added that she hoped to have the new regime operational by July next year but submissions on the new Right to Information and Information Privacy bills are not due until March 31. With speculation high that Queenslanders will go to the polls before then, transparency may well become an election issue.


FULL ARTICLE:<,25197,24752659-2702,00.html>

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

League of Women Voters of Norwalk to hold Forum on Freedom of Information Act - Norwalk News


League of Women Voters of Norwalk to hold Forum on Freedom of Information Act




Hour Staff Writer



Requesting government documents and other public information under the Freedom of Information Act will be the topic of a forum sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Norwalk at City Hall on Thursday evening.


The Freedom of Information forum is scheduled for Thursday, at 7 p.m., in Room A300 of Norwalk City Hall, 125 East Ave., according to Diane Lauricella, League president.


"We invite all citizens to come hear a lively discussion and listen to Tom Hennick, the public information officer with the state Freedom of Information Commission," Lauricella said. "Come learn about how to obtain information from governmental bodies, what to ask for, what not to ask for and how to ask for it."


Lauricella said the forum is part of The League's Shine a Light on Democracy effort and its mission of advocating for open government. The forum is open to all. Those attending are invited to bring questions they have about the process of requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act.




Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Freedom of information: Making it happen - Malaysia Today

Freedom of information: Making it happen


Posted by admin   

Tuesday, 02 December 2008 14:14

The result would be a less corrupt, more transparent and mature society. Politicians and the civil service would have to be more professional, knowledgeable and accountable.

By Deborah Loh, The Nut Graph


IN the first parliamentary sitting in 2008 this May, Subang Member of Parliament (MP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president R Sivarasa tried to table a private member's bill on freedom of information (FOI).  Although it appeared in the order paper, the House never reached the item.


R SivarasaSivarasa, who is also a human rights lawyer, has re-submitted the bill twice since then to no avail. Unfortunately, he isn't expecting the bill to get any time.


"It gets pushed further down the order paper as more government bills are added. I think this is why private member's bills are so rare. Other modern parliaments allocate time for opposition or private bills, but not here."

The treatment of private member's bills aside, Sivarasa's attempt to revive interest in FOI fulfils part of the Pakatan Rakyat's promise to the electorate before the 8 March 2008 elections to have a new law guaranteeing freedom of information.


Awareness on access to information laws is still lacking among politicians and the masses. But it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a need for it. This was recently highlighted when Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed announced that toll concessionaires, except for one, would declassify concession agreements made with the government.




Court rules development authority is a public body:

Court rules development authority is a public body

by Michael Gorman/The Vanguard

By Michael Gorman




The South West Shore Development Authority (SWSDA) lost a legal battle last week that could have wide-reaching impacts on the information it is required to release.


In a ruling from the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, Justice Suzanne M. Hood ruled that SWSDA is a public body and, thus, is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) Act.


The ruling is the result of a claim filed by Adelard A. Cayer, who was appealing a request for access to the travel expenses of Frank Anderson, the CEO for SWSDA. The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia, a group dedicated to bringing openness and transparency to government, intervened in the case.



Monday, December 01, 2008

How freedom of information has become a farce - The Independent (IE)

How freedom of information has become a farce

THE revelations in this newspaper last weekend about the excessive spending in Fas represented a notable victory for the Freedom of Information act. However, such successes are increasingly rare because by changing the law, this Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrat-led Government has managed to make it so difficult to obtain information as to render the act largely defunct. In truth, Freedom of Information in Ireland is a farce.

The information uncovered by the painstaking efforts of Shane Ross and Nick Webb is a tangible example of why FoI is so important.

Established by John Bruton's Rainbow government in 1997, the FoI act sought to "replace a culture of secrecy within the public service with a culture of openness".

Today, the Sunday Independent catalogues some of its recent experiences with various government departments, State agencies and public sector bodies to illustrate how dysfunctional the FoI system now is.

But why is FoI so vital?



Sunday, November 30, 2008

Region opposes more in-camera power

Region opposes more in-camera power
by NIck Moase/The Advance

Article online since November 26th 2008, 10:39

A resolution by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM) was not well-received by the Region of Queens Municipality's Committee of the Whole and council.
Resolution #9A, passed this year, gives municipal governments more power to hold in-camera sessions.

In-camera items are currently used for negotiations and personnel issues. "Things that are not in the interest to be discussed publicly at that time," said Chris McNeil, Municipal Clerk with the Region of Queens.

Some examples he gave are union negotiations or when they are buying or selling land. The deals are made public when they are completed, but not while they are in negotiation.

The new resolution would allow council to enter in-camera for training and educating council members, intra-council issues, or if a majority of council members wanted it for an issue.


Counc. Peter Waterman added, "People want transparency, not closed doors."



Friday, November 28, 2008

Court rules FOI laws still apply -

Court rules FOI laws still apply

Case involved development authority's refusal to provide information


Fri. Nov 28 - 5:54 AM

Arm's-length government agencies cannot prevent the public from prying into their business by claiming to be exempt from freedom of information laws, Nova Scotia Supreme Court decided this week.

The ruling involved the South West Shore Development Authority, which had refused to release information that a Shelburne-area man had requested about how it was spending money. The authority argued it was outside the jurisdiction of freedom of information laws.

The man, Adelard Cayer, took the authority to court.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down its decision, saying that the authority is an agency of the municipal government, which appoints its members and supports its operations financially. And since municipalities are subject to freedom of information laws, so are the agencies they establish and fund.

"If they're using our money, we have a right to find enough information from them to decide whether or not they're doing what we want them to do," said Darce Fardy, who founded the Right to Know Coalition after retiring in 2006 as the province's review officer for the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

"This business of trying to do it in secret is just not on."


Full Article: <>

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Big loss for SWSDA chief on legal front... Appeals Court demands release of expense records... RDAs are public bodies says court... - Shelburne County Today

Big loss for SWSDA chief on legal front... Appeals Court demands release of expense records... RDAs are public bodies says court...


In what may be a far-reaching decision for access to public records from government agencies, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court published an opinion today in a two-year legal battle to obtain the expense claims of Frank Anderson, CEO of the South West Shore Development Authority (SWSDA) under the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) Act.


     The suit by Shelburne businessman Ed Cayer was filed after Anderson and his attorneys refused to abide by rulings by the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information Office and Cayer appealed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court where the matter was heard by Justice Suzanne M. Hood. Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, Anderson and SWSDA have continued to claim that SWSDA is not a "public body" and that SWSDA and Anderson are somehow exempt from the FIOPOP legislation.


     In her 38-page decision from a trial de novo, Justice Hood spelled out her reasoning for the decision, which included opinions that, despite attempts to amend its by-laws to the contrary, SWSDA is and was always a public body under the Nova Scotia Municipal Government Act (MGA) and, in that, fully subject to FIOPOP standards.. She cited four court cases, including a recent, similar case involving the Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO) in which the judge determined that it was "contrary to the purpose of the (FOIPOP) Act and access to information legislation in general to permit... [the evasion of] the statutory duty to provide residents with access to information..." 



Right to Know Coalition NS pleased with court decision

Right to Know pleased with court decision

By KELLY SHIERS Staff Reporter

Thu. Nov 27 - 5:53 AM

An advocacy group is heralding a Nova Scotia Supreme Court decision that the South West Shore Regional Development Authority [SWSDA] is a public body subject to the province's Freedom of Information Act.

"We're very pleased," said Darce Fardy

DarceDarce Fardy RTKCNS President - Image via Wikipedia

, president of the Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia.

"It's important because regional development authorities have great influence on what's happening in their communities and they're publicly funded.

"To have them feel that they're unaccountable to the public that they're serving and using public funds to do it, that they're not going to be open and accountable, . . . for me, I'm not a lawyer, I just said that doesn't make sense."

The coalition became involved in the legal wrangling when the South West Shore Regional Development Authority turned down an individual's request for records, citing, among its reasons, that the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act doesn't apply to it, Mr. Fardy said.

When that person asked the court to review that finding, the Right to Know Coalition intervened.

An authority spokesman could not be reached Wednesday evening.


Inserted from <>

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A pledge to support the public’s right to know | OKG

A pledge to support the public's right to know

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

By Joey Senat

Perhaps more Oklahomans want their government conducted in the open than the politicians realized.

Voters on Nov. 4 elected 13 of the 25 candidates for statewide, legislative or county offices who had pledged to support the public's right to know at every opportunity. Among those elected are five metro-area members of the state House and Oklahoma County Commissioner-elect Brian Maughan, R-Oklahoma City.

In signing FOI Oklahoma Inc.'s Open Government Pledge, these Democrats and Republicans joined a national effort to spur public commitments to government transparency from candidates for president down to city council contests.


Senat is an associate journalism professor at Oklahoma State University and past president of FOI Oklahoma Inc.




Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BBC World Service

The Right to Know

Programme one

If knowledge is power, then the right to know is a crucial part of the balance between citizen and state. More and more countries are introducing freedom of information laws, which give citizens the right to see government-held information.

Over 70 states already have an FOI law of some kind. In another 50 or so, moves have begun to get one passed.

Freedom of information is well on the way to being seen as an essential prerequisite for a modern democracy. But there's almost always a backlash from politicians and officials. And throughout the world 'right to know' laws have become a subject of controversy and political conflict.

The first programme of two looks at the rapid spread of freedom of information and asks whether the many countries now introducing FOI laws are are really acting more in theory than in practice.

First broadcast on 8th August 2008

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FOIs - waste of your cash - The Weston Mercury

FOIs - waste of your cash - The Weston Mercury (UK)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

8:25 AM

FOIs - waste of your cash


18 November 2008


CONCERNED parish councillors in Backwell appealed to three people to explain why they are bombarding the council with FOI requests.


Speaking at a council meeting on Thursday, Councillor Bob Day said the requests were an 'utter waste of public money for no apparent reason' and he urged the three people involved to ask their questions at meetings instead.


Since January, Backwell Parish Council has had 26 FOI requests.


Cllr Day said: "As a parish council we have approximately 5,000 residents. Out of this number only one person, Mrs Lloyd, keeps asking each month for information about the parish council under this act, despite taking copious notes at every meeting. We've received 13 requests from her this year.


"She does not come back to us to say something is wrong so why does she persist and what is she trying to achieve?"


"The question I want to ask is why does she keep asking for this information?


"She attends regularly and has plenty of opportunities to ask questions but she doesn't.


"The information required takes a considerable amount of time for our clerk to find.


"It's time consuming and very costly. These costs are met by residents through the precept."


He added: "Furthermore, we have two other people from Nailsea who have put in 12 requests between them so far this year - Maureen Sage, the council's former clerk, and Tom Wilson, who used to be a councillor and chairman of the council. I would like to ask them the same questions.


"This money could be used to improve village life. It's for these people to stand up and come along to these meetings and tell us what they want."



Thursday, November 13, 2008

CUPE 15 sues Vancouver park board over in-camera decision

CUPE 15 sues Vancouver park board over in-camera decision

The second-last Vancouver park board meeting before the municipal election featured an in-camera session in which commissioners voted to re-classify 15 union positions at Vancouver community centres as higher-salaried management jobs. The Oct. 6 decision, according to CUPE 15, violates sections 492 and 493 of the Vancouver Charter.

CUPE 15 has now filed a B.C. Supreme Court challenge to the deal, which CUPE 15 president Paul Faoro said is the only way to gain transparency on an issue that he thinks should have been more open at the outset.

"These in-camera meetings are becoming the flavour of the year," he quipped. "Section 492 and 493 of the Charter effectively says, the park board can spend money, but it can only spend money that city council has approved and funded. Section 493 says the park board can't spend more than the city council has funded."

According to Faoro, the cost of the newly-created managerial positions could be as high as $300,000, putting taxpayers on the hook.

"We have them not yet telling the public about the impact. We have filed an FOI request asking for the in-camera minutes. We've had no response from the park board," he said.

"The NPA park board control made this a political issue. This is the kind of stuff where we think proper debate, respectful discussion would be helpful. But unfortunately, the last three years, it's been absolutely hopeless."

The Oct. 6 in-camera session contained a decision to "kick out or exempt" 15 CUPE members who work as community recreation coordinators, according to Faoro.

The 15 affected members worked at community centres across the city, including False Creek, Dunbar, Kitsilano, Sunset, Marpole-Oakrdige, Douglas, West Point Grey, Hastings, Thunderbird, Renfrew, Trout Lake, Mount Pleasant, Champlain Heights, Kensington, and Strathcona. Following the in-camera park board meeting, the coordinator positions were re-classified as new community recreation supervisor positions, and employees were required to decide whether to accept the new position by Nov. 4. Their new, re-classified positions will be effective Nov. 24.

"A decision like this is taking 15 of our positions out of our union, effecting long-term service employees," Faoro said. "We're taking this very seriously."

Jackie Wong reports for the Westender.