Kent says ATIPPA review to start in March

James
James McLeod
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Process ongoing to name three-person committee

Public Engagement Minister Steve Kent says he’s hoping to rework the province’s access to information laws by the end of the year, bringing amendments in the fall session of the House of Assembly.

Steve Kent. — Transcontinental file photo

That’s a fairly ambitious goal, given that Kent hasn’t even appointed the three-person committee that will be responsible for studying the province’s access to information legislation and preparing a report.

Then, government bureaucrats will have to take that report and turn its recommendations into legislation before it can go to the House of Assembly.

Kent said that ideally, he’d like to get the committee’s report by early fall, but speaking to The Telegram, his No. 1 message was that they’ll be completely unrestricted when they do their work.

Kent said they’ll be allowed to take as long as they need, and conduct themselves however they want to.

“We don’t want to place any kind of restrictions on the work of the committee. We want them to do a thorough and complete job of reviewing the legislation in its entirety,” he said.

“I want the people of the province to have full confidence in our ATIPPA legislation.”

Ever since the Progressive Conservative government passed Bill 29 and amended the province’s access to information law, they have been consistently criticized for running a closed, secretive government.

Bill 29 broadly increased the ability of the government to withhold information from the public, and in some situations, made it illegal to release certain kinds of government information.

The Liberals have made criticizing government secrecy a cornerstone of their tactics.

Shortly after former premier Kathy Dunderdale resigned in January, interim-Premier Tom Marshall announced that the government would undertake a comprehensive, independent review of the access to information system.

Such a review was scheduled to come in 2015, but Marshall said public interest in the system moved it up a year.

A month later, the provincial government still hasn’t named anybody to the three-person committee that will be charged with doing the review, but Kent said they’re close.

“Very soon, further information is going to be provided to the public, so that they can make their views known and get engaged with this process,” he said.

“We have a list of potential candidates. We’ve received a great deal of interest from around the province, and even outside the province.”

Kent said to expect an announcement in March, hopefully in the first half of the month.

He said the government wants to bolster confidence in the access system.

“We know there are concerns and we want to address those concerns,” he said.

“We are deeply open to being open and being transparent, and we want the people of the province to know that we are listening.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: House of Assembly.Kent

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Recent comments

  • Kent for Dogcatcher
    February 27, 2014 - 14:54

    How amusing to watch this guy soaking up the media limelight yesterday as he lectured the children of this province on the evils of bullying. The same Grand PooBah of the short-pant fraternity who swore on a stack of bibles that all the molesters in their midst had been promptly reported to police. Then came irrefutable proof to the contrary. This is an opportunistic, belligerent little brat who perpetually undermines the civility of debate in the House. His appointment to cabinet is proof that this government is bankrupt of character and talent. As for his long expensive review of Bill 29, is there anyone who doesn't see this as anything more than a ruse to buy time while they ramp up for the next election?

  • Tony Rockel
    February 27, 2014 - 12:37

    Utterly shameful. A bunch of psychopathic teenagers with their parents' car and credit cards would behave more responsibly than this band of cretinous baboons.

  • Marshall Art
    February 27, 2014 - 12:16

    Minister of Public Engagement ? What is that, exactly ? Is it similar to Russia's Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda ? No doubt, Minister Kent is eager to engage and enlighten us with lots of propaganda with the youthful enthusiasm of an Eagle Scout.

    • Don II
      February 27, 2014 - 13:01

      We all remember that the Boy Scouts of Canada and Boy Scouts of America organizations were less than open and transparent during the recent sexual predator scandals in their upper ranks. The Kremlin in Russia and the Soviet KGB spy service would have been more open and transparent. It appears that Minister Kent obtained his dubious commitment to open and transparent Government from the Boy Scouts!

  • Tony Rockel
    February 27, 2014 - 11:43

    The shredders in the Confabulation Building must be working overtime now!

  • dan
    February 27, 2014 - 11:35

    What a joke! They will find a way to make the legislation even worse if Stevie boy is running the show. Repeal Bill 29 right now! Oh it will be fun saying good riddance to all of the CONs in NL in 2015....those with the GUTS to run that is....right Shea!!!!???

  • Concerned Citizens
    February 27, 2014 - 10:18

    Our faces appear in the group portrait above Kent's right shoulder. We do not want to be associated with him.We demand restitution!

  • Marshall Art
    February 27, 2014 - 10:04

    Review? What review ? I'm still trying to digest the fact that Steve Kent is a Government Minister.

    • Buffy Boywonder
      February 27, 2014 - 14:37

      Amen to that statement brother!! Deep in the back of Kents mind he thinks he will be Premier one day. Good Luck Boy Scout Wonder.

  • Graham
    February 27, 2014 - 09:07

    Come on 2015 so we can get rid of Kent and the PC's once and for all.

  • EDfromRED
    February 27, 2014 - 08:51

    Way too little, too late. The PC way seems to be: Delay, delay, delay, so they can cover up and hide as much chicanery as they can before their enevitable turfing next election. The PC's are in Freefall and are desperate to hide their misdeeds as long as possible.

  • Don II
    February 27, 2014 - 08:34

    Anyone who approaches the Government of Newfoundland for funding of their projects or businesses, submits applications for Crown land or public tenders, lobbies or advocates for legislative enactment, changes or amendments should have no expectation of privacy and their documents should be available on request for public inspection! That is what is missing from the Access to Information policy in Newfoundland and Labrador!

  • Joe
    February 27, 2014 - 07:14

    I don't know their names, but didn't a number of democracy and legislative watch groups say this was the worse piece of legislation they had ever seen. Rather than patch up junk why not start from scratch? Stevie is good with polls maybe they could draft legislation using polls.

  • Dolf
    February 27, 2014 - 06:10

    Whoever the hell he appoints keep polititians out of the mix!

  • leon
    February 27, 2014 - 03:51

    There appears to be no end to the talk of openness. “We are deeply open to being open and being transparent, and we want the people of the province to know that we are listening.” Now walk the walk!