Alberta’s Freedom of Information procedures are approaching crisis territory according to Jill Clayton, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Alberta.
Clayton says one of the main issues is the lack of respect for the procedure across the government.
This is critical because freedom of information allows people and organizations, to hold the government to account.
A report found wait times are too long and a lack of staff in an inefficient process. Also odd is that the head of the agency and the senior financial officer review every single request that comes through the door instead of just going through a co-ordinator.
These senior officials don’t actually have the authority to be involved in the access process, so this could actually be a violation of the rules in itself especially since some of those officials have the power to authorize requests be disregarded.
Not surprisingly, it seems some requests for certain groups are being pushed to the back burner.
Last year, investigations were ordered on Alberta Justice, Public Affairs and Executive council by requests from the Wildrose Party. The Wildrose say they want to fire some managers and move resources to frontline staff, transition to electronic records, end department interference and change the fee structure - the fee structure that allows the government to charge us thousands of dollars for information.
The more sensitive the information is, the more the NDP don’t want you to see it and the higher the price tag.
Freedom of access to information that reveals what the government you elected in is up to is a cornerstone of democracy and the NDP are making it harder for people to to so.
This demonstrates the lack of respect they have for the public and at the very least, should prompt questions about what the government has to hide.
Remember when the NDP claimed a mandate for transparency upon election? Well, so much for that.