Public hasn’t had much to say on access to information

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The access to information review is holding its final week of hearings with committee chair Clyde Wells lamenting the lack of interest.

From left, Access to Information Review committee members Doug Letto, chairman Clyde Wells and Jennifer Stoddart listen to presentations at hearings at the Ramada Hotel in St. John’s in this file photo.

In opening remarks Monday morning, Wells talked about the fact that they haven’t received many submissions from citizens, which he took to mean that people are largely satisfied with the access to information law.

The ATIPPA review committee sent questionnaires to access to information co-ordinators in government. Roughly a third of the bureaucrats who received forms have provided a response. Wells said that when they sent out the questionnaires, they promised complete anonymity to the people responding.

On Tuesday, Public Engagement Minister Sandy Collins will make a presentation to the committee on behalf of the government.

Representatives for Nalcor, Memorial University and the CBC will also present.

Several members of The Telegram newsroom presented to the committee this summer.

Monday morning, Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner of Canada, presented to the committee, talking about the need for proactive disclosure and a change to the way information is withheld from citizens under the access to information law.

Legault said that the act as it is currently written doesn’t strike a balance between public information and necessary confidentiality. She said the current legislation has tipped the balance in favour of secrecy.

The committee is accepting written submissions until the end of August.

Their final report is expected to be finished in the fall.

 

 

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Canada

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  • Ignorance is bliss.
    August 19, 2014 - 00:34

    Typical of our provincial government, this review is being conducted during the summer at a time when people are spending most of their time on the go - enjoying life - and would rather not be bothered with government's b.s. If this review were taking place in the fall or winter there would be a lot more responses coming from the public. Who are these government bureaucrats that they are seeking the opinions of? What about regular people? Are we being actually being asked? I didn't receive a survey in my inbox and don't know anything about how the method to be used to provide my input. The public obviously disagrees with the government's use of bill 29 because they have been clamoring to get rid of this PC government. Typical of a politician, Mr. Wells believes that failing to receive loud and direct condemnation from lowly Joe Public must mean everything is just hunky-dory.

  • Duffy
    August 18, 2014 - 19:57

    The "fix" is probably in and it is useless to even comment that is why no one sends anything in - do you really think you have a say? Just remember ABC next election................ The present government would like a Bill 30 which would make Bill 29 Secret. ABC !!!

  • Privateeye 1
    August 18, 2014 - 12:01

    There would have been much more interest if Clyde Wells was not appointed. One look at him turns most people of completely. We can never forgive or forget his famous "CLYDE LIED"ficasco. The guy got so many retirement cheques and other government cheques coming each month it seems he would be hardpressed to offer good commentary on this bill. Why can"t we see some new faces when studies like this are begun. He is a smuck.

    • John Lynch
      August 18, 2014 - 14:31

      While I will not go as far as Privateeye1 in condemning the province's fifth premier, his involvement with this initiation is to me, unsettling. Mr. Wells, if you thought Newfoundlanders were unhappy (at previous premiers) when you took office as 25 years ago, I am sure today they are the most cynical lot in all of Canada. That is why they are not present at these hearings. They know and have seen in the past any good recommendations that come from a panel such as this are thrown out the window as soon as the next premier says he does not like them or wants to cover everything up. Bill 29 is only the latest such example and everyone knows there are more Bill 29s to come no matter what party attains office. Twenty years ago I chose to leave my home province and it was the best thing I ever did. Brad Walls is THE GREATEST PREMIER I have ever lived under and Saskatchewan is a WONDERFUL province!!And by the way, they somehow manage to get by with far fewer politicians than NL does.

  • Roy
    August 18, 2014 - 12:00

    That's not a surprise. The only people really complaining were the Telegram.

    • Dolf
      August 18, 2014 - 15:01

      Grow up Roy. Did you expect The New York Times to complain about Bill 29?

  • Don II
    August 18, 2014 - 10:31

    As a lawyer, a Judge and a former Premier it appears that Clyde Wells logical and legal mind relies on the axiom that: "Silence is tantamount to acceptance." Nothing could be further from the truth in Newfoundland and Labrador where the people have been silenced, oppressed, repressed, abused and punished by successive corrupt and incompetent Governors and Governments for 400 years. The threat of retribution and an enforced silence in the face of tyranny and abuse of power is the norm for most people in Newfoundland and Labrador! The public in Newfoundland and Labrador either know for a fact or strongly suspect that there is unrestrained corruption and incompetence in their Government. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador also know that their protests, letters and petitions will be ignored, go unanswered, attract retribution from or will be summarily dismissed by Government. The public also knows that if they take the time and make the effort to send in an Access to Information request that they will wait months for a response, be required to pay fees that cannot afford and that they will eventually receive a very poorly sealed Government envelope stuffed with blacked out documents! Without a doubt it is a fact that Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the most secretive jurisdictions in the World! Why is that? It is also a fact that situation must be changed sooner rather than later!

  • dondD
    August 18, 2014 - 10:23

    clyde is wrong about this as i would like to attend and comment or even submit something, but how. this bill has negatively affected me.