Show your work
On June 11th, the totally independent Information Commissioner issued this cautionary note about his views on Bill 29, the Williams-Dunderdale Memorial Freedom from Information Act:
Proposed amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) are before the House of Assembly for debate. This is part of the democratic process of lawmaking, and those charged with making statute law are the elected representatives of the House of Assembly.A week later, the Commissioner is reported to have told reporters at a conference of his peers:
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) is an independent Office of the House of Assembly and the Commissioner an appointed officer of the House of Assembly. Independence of the OIPC is paramount. It is its independent nature that ensures it can carry out its statutory function of information and privacy protection on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Given this role, it is not appropriate for the Commissioner to provide commentary on the process while the proposed ATIPPA amendments are before the House.
Commissioner Ed Ring comments further, “I will not be in a position to engage in discussion on the amendments until I am fully briefed and read-in. It will be necessary to take some time for in-house analysis and discussion to fully explore the long term effects and implications of the changes before speaking about them. The scope, extent and complexity of the amendments will dictate how long our consideration will take. The bottom line here, is that I am reluctant to make comments prematurely until the appropriate study and analytical work by my Office is completed.”
"I still maintain, based on my review, that the legislation remains robust, and that people's right to access information will be protected," Ring told reporters Monday, after he spoke at a St. John's conference on public access to government information.On June 21st, Ed Ring was re-appointed as Access to Information Commissioner for a further two-year term.
While he acknowledged that "it's going to be a work in progress" as Bill 29 is implemented, Ring said he was heartened to see that individuals can still appeal government rejections of their requests to the courts.
"There are opportunities for judicial review," he said.
"Will there be oversight? And so the answer is yes, there will be."
On June 27th, Bill 29, the Williams-Dunderdale Memorial Freedom from Information Act, received Royal Assent.
There is still no sign of that "appropriate study and analytical work" on Bill 29 over at the Commissioner's website.