"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mr. Accountability (V): Completely subjective

From the proceedings in the Bow-Wow Parliament of December 3, 2001:

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, to move on to the second part of this particular bill. Under Section 6.(1), "A person who makes a request under section 7 has a right of access to a record..." A very, very important section. Subsection (3), "The right of access to a record is subject to the payment of a fee required under section 67." In the proposed Bill 49, that fee scope is, in fact, enlarged. Now, I acknowledge there is a discretion to waive a fee, but that is a discretion. It does not have to be done, but that is enlarged. It now includes search, preparation, copying and delivery services, and that is an issue. It is a very important issue. When I go through the timetable here you will realize just how important an issue it is, because last year, if I remember correctly, there was an incident where a member of the Opposition made an application for some information under Freedom of Information and a bill of $10,000 was proposed. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition. A $10,000 bill was put forward to try and block the information. A lot of money. This, in fact, enlarges that scope.

Now, let’s deal with time periods because I think it is important to track what the ordinary individual is going to have to go through in order to get information from this government or public body or any of the people under the definitions. The former act said it took thirty days. In thirty days the information had to be provided. The new act says, reasonable efforts within thirty days. Now, Mr. Speaker, my submission is: Who decides what reasonable efforts are? So, if you can’t do it in thirty days with a reasonable effort, what is a reasonable effort: 365 days, 720 days, 31 days? Who defines that? Completely subjective. So a reasonable effort can be whatever it wants to be.

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