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PCs must stop interfering with FOIP requests

THREE HILLS, AB (July 10, 2014): Reports that FOIP documents being returned with the message “records do not exist” are dramatically increasing serve as further evidence the PC government is continuing to compromise the integrity of the Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) process in Alberta, Wildrose Service Alberta Critic Bruce Rowe said Today.

The media report shows that two out of three FOIP applicants receive no information in response to their request. The alarming stat has Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner, Jill Clayton, concerned the PC government isn’t recording information or is withholding information for political purposes.

Rowe said he’s also concerned, but not surprised given the PC’s long and well-documented history of interfering with the FOIP process.

“These numbers support what we’ve known for a long time. The PCs have a history of mishandling, underreporting and interfering with FOIP applications,” Rowe said. “The rules surrounding FOIP are clearly outlined and backed by the force of law. Within those rules, citizens have every right to receive all of the information they request in an inexpensive, fair and timely manner. But this isn’t happening.”

The PCs have been caught in a series of FOIP breaches, Rowe said. Last April, a leaked, internal email from current PC leadership candidate (then Deputy Premier) Thomas Lukaszuk requested that all PC Ministers have their partisan press secretaries gather information on all active FOIP requests that had the potential to “generate media, session, political, or other reputational issues for government.” Last December, a news report showed that non-political staff at Alberta Justice required approval from Justice Minister Jonathan Denis’ political staff, before they could release a FOIP.

Rowe said he’s confident the FOIP process will be reformed in Alberta, but he’s doubtful that can happen under this PC government.

“They see it as a tool at their disposal. It’s a habit they just can’t break,” he said. “The PC government should do the right thing and de-politicize the FOIP process in Alberta, now.”