Collins on defensive at ATIPPA review

James McLeod jmcleod@thetelegram.com
Published on August 19, 2014
sandy collins

Public Engagement Minister Sandy Collins came to the access to information review hearings in St. John’s Tuesday saying that he wasn’t looking to make recommendations on how to change the law.

Instead, what he got was hours of being on the defensive, as former premier Clyde Wells and other members of the committee cross-examined Collins about access to information and the changes made under Bill 29.

Right at the beginning, Wells pointedly said that the vast majority of the people who have spoken about ATIPPA complained that it’s too restrictive and too prone to secrecy.

Collins was grilled on why the government found it necessary to keep ministers’ briefing materials completely secret from the public.

Similarly, Wells pointedly said  there is clear evidence the government has abused attorney-client privilege to keep documents secret from the public.

Through most of the presentation, Collins let deputy ministers and senior officials within his department do the talking.

This week, the review committee is hearing from a range of presenters on access to information issues.

Ultimately, Wells along with retired journalist Doug Letto and former federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart will write a report recommending changes to the legislation.