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FOIP review far from open and transparent: Fox

EDMONTON, AB (June 18, 2013): The PC government is mishandling FOIP consultations by rushing the review process, ignoring past precedent for an all-party committee review and failing to be clear on what the cost of FOIPs to the public should be, Wildrose Service Alberta Critic Rod Fox said today.

 The three previous consultations on the FOIP Act Review were done by all-party committees, a report where all recommendations to the committee and debates to amendments are made public, in 1998-99, 2001-02 and most recently in 2010.  The 2010 review included 24 recommendations to amend the FOIP Act and was commissioned in April 2010 and tabled in November 2010.  To date, only seven amendments have been implemented since the report. Fox charged that the government is falling well short of being open and transparent in updating the legislation by shutting out an all-party committee review and rushing its consultations over a short-period of time during the summer, a period where Albertans are looking to spend time with families, with final submissions due by July 31st. “We would like to give Associate Minister Don Scott the benefit of the doubt, but so far he has claimed he wants to conduct the most comprehensive review of the legislation in Alberta’s history but has left out the opposition and even the privacy commissioner for direct input,” Fox said.  “This is not how you do proper consultation and given this government’s history in battling the opposition, media and members of the public over FOIP requests, it’s simply unacceptable.” At a consultation in Red Deer last night, Fox said a common complaint for those attending was a lack of public notice for the meeting. Fox also raised concerns over the government’s position on the current costs taken by members of the public to file FOIP requests. Recently, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk charged that the opposition and the public are costing taxpayers too much money by putting forward too many FOIP requests. “The reality is, in today’s Alberta, FOIP requests are the only way to get any real information from the government and the minister needs to make it clear if he is considering raising the costs for FOIP requests in an effort to create more barriers for the public,” Fox said.