The Sir Robert Bond Papers: No help, not my department, and missing records #nlpoli

Starting a little over a hundred years ago,  the Government of Newfoundland  publishing a list of public servants by name, showing their job title, the department they worked for,  the annual salary,and the Christian denomination to which they belonged. Since 1981 and the passage of the first freedom of information law in the province,  anyone ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Illegal deletions okay in NL: access commissioner #nlpoli

Shortly after he took office a month or so ago,  newly appointed information commissioner Donovan Molloy told CBC there had been a “substantial increase” in the number of access to information requests since 2015 when the House of Assembly passed a new access to information law. True, said the always accurate labradore, but that was ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Bill 29 didn’t go far enough: public sector unions #nlpoli

The teachers’ union doesn’t want the public to know the names of public servants in Newfoundland and Labrador. The news late on Thursday is that NAPE – the province’s largest public sector union  – and the nurses’ union are thinking about joining the fight against the public’s right to know who works for the public ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: A mess in the government access and privacy world #nlpoli

Two recent stories about the province’s access to government information and privacy laws. Both of them are essentially nonsense. Short version for the new administration:  cock-ups in comms and access to government information helped destroy the Conservatives.  Since you’ve already got big communications problems, adding screw-ups in ATIPPA to the mix is just no good ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The politics of information #nlpoli

A couple of recent post are reminders of how important it is to take a look at issues in the province from another perspective. On June 10,  you will find a post about crab fishermen from New Brunswick who want to sell their catch to a company near Corner Brook.  The problem is that federal ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Repealing Bill 29 #nlpoli

The Liberals proposed a motion during last week’s private member’s day that the government repeal Bill 29. Meanwhile, at the Telegram, legislative reporter James McLeod has been waging a one-man crusade to get everyone to stop trying to repeal Bill 29.  Bill 29 actually fixed a few nasty things,  according to McLeod.  For example, rather ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Talk is cheap. #nlpoli

It was only a matter of time before the government that says more and more about less and less figured out that its best mouthpiece was Steve Kent, right, the minister of perpetual self-parody. No one can talk more while saying little of substance and so it is quite natural that Kent – the ultimate ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: D’oh! Telegram shags up Muskrat Falls access story #nlpoli

According to a major Telegram story on Monday morning, the provincial government won’t be able to release some information about Muskrat Falls because of the provincial access to information  laws. There’s only one problem:  the Telegram got the whole thing wrong. (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: How do they work, exactly? #nlpoli

As laughable as it is for the Premier’s Office to insist former Premier Kathy Dunderdale received only 46 e-mails in a single week and sent none, there are some other things in this little episode that are worth noticing. Put ‘em all together with other information and you might have something interesting.  Not necessarily huge, ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: How did she work, exactly? #nlpoli

How odd that the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador – arguably the busiest job in the province, bar none -  received only 46 e-mails in a one week period in January. And how extremely odd that none them – apparently  – came from any of her staff, senior public servants, cabinet ministers or other politicians. ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Access to Information – some misunderstandings #nlpoli

A tale out of Ottawa reveals the extent to which access to information problems crop up in lots of places. CBC News asked for a copy of a memo from the commander of the Canadian Army about leaks of information within the army.  CBC apparently had a copy of the memo or someone had seen ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Doing it right #nlpoli

Premier Tom Marshall confirmed on Thursday that the provincial government will be doing the review of the provincial information and privacy law a year earlier than scheduled. They will also be appointing three people to serve as the commission conducting the review.  The provincial government is also accepting nominations for commissioners. While other details of ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Dunderdale’s Bill 29 “a dramatic step backwards” for transparency in NL #nlpoli

On Monday,  Premier Kathy Dunderdale blew off any questions in the House of Assembly about Bill 29 with the comment that the centre for Law and Democracy said the province was third in the country for transparency. Well, as regular readers well know, the Premier is not usually right about many things and this is ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Beast #nlpoli

This week, people across Canada who are interested in the public right to access government information mark a thing called Right to Know Week. It’s a time to “raise awareness of an individual’s right to access government information, while promoting freedom of information as essential to both democracy and good governance.” People who are genuinely ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The New Secret Nation #nlpoli

On the front page of Wednesday’s Telegram was another instalment in James McLeod’s blockbuster on the provincial government’s policy of censoring public documents. This one focused on the claim by a spokesperson for the public engagement office that orders in council were not covered by a section of the province’s access to information law that ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Censoring Public Documents… or not #nlpoli

Not only does the provincial government now censor public documents called orders in council, they can’t get their own scheme right. Public engagement minister Keith Hutchings published a letter to the editor claiming that government had always censored orders in council.  The Telegram dutifully went back and asked for some of the same documents they’d ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: A Commitment to Secrecy #nlpoli

The justice department is the lead department enforcing the provincial access to public information law. As such, it’s a pretty serious indictment of the government’s commitment to public access when the justice department violates the access law. From the access commissioner’s summary of his report into the latest complaint against the justice department: The Applicant ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Tories involved in violation of privacy act #nlpoli

The temperature in the House of Assembly is not even cooled down and Tory legislator Paul Lane (Mount Pearl South) is likely to find himself in the middle of a controversy involving the disclosure of personal information that is supposed to be protected under the Access to Information and Protection of Personal Privacy Act. On ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: When rights are annoying #nlpoli

There’s something about this frivolous and vexatious thing that caught people’s attention right from the start. Under the provincial Conservatives’ new secrecy laws, a cabinet minister can refuse to disclose information if he or she thinks the request is “frivolous or vexatious”. (sec. 43.1) Leave aside the idea that a politician gets to decide on ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Your Law School called… #nlpoli

The more they talk, the worse it gets. In the House of Assembly on Thursday, justice minister Felix Collins gave some examples of what he would consider "frivolous and vexatious” requests for information. Now before we go any further, we should explain what those words usually mean to lawyers.  After all, Collins is a lawyer ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: And that was the point, Felix #nlpoli

Justice minister Felix Collins and his colleagues are having a bad week.  Felix and his buds want to limit public access to government information. They want to make it harder for people to find out what they are doing with public money. People don’t like it and they’ve been making that clear to them. Felix ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Vanished Records #nlpoli

Under changes to the province’s access to information law, briefing notes for cabinet ministers will be kept secret for five years. Sounds like it might make some sort of theoretical sense.  Wait five years and then you can get the briefing note a minister used. That’s hardly too much to ask, especially if government officials ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Secrets Policeman’s Bollocks #nlpoli

CBC demolished the false claims a couple of Conservative cabinet ministers made in order to justify their efforts to destroy the public’s access to government information. Justice minister Felix Collins claimed that they had to cut down the number of information requests, which he said numbered in the thousands each year.  Service NL minister Paul ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: You would fight against disclosure too… #nlpoli

Rarely does one cabinet minister put on not one or two spectacular displays of incompetence in one session of the legislature, but justice minister Felix Collins has done that this spring in less than a month. First, there was Collins’ pathetic effort to explain why he and his colleagues would not fulfill their promise to ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Freedom from Information: the sorry Connie legacy #nlpoli

“We will amend the Access to Information legislation to enhance the transparency of government actions and decisions.” Danny Williams, Leader of the Opposition, February 2003 There truly is a greater fraud than a promise unkept.  That would be the promise that is consciously and deliberately broken. In February 2003, the provincial Conservatives – then in ...