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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2019-06-17 21:25 [p.29239]
Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, one of the things that might be done was in Senate amendment 3, which was a recommendation from the former information commissioner. I do not know if it was a recommendation of the current Information Commissioner. If I have it right, this was an amendment that spoke to the Information Commissioner reviewing extensions. Right now, departments can effectively grant themselves extensions for requests. If requests ought to be answered in 30 or 60 days, a department can write back and say that it is going to be 200 days or three years or whatever the department figures is adequate, and they are not under any requirement to justify that to anyone.
Part of the idea was that if they were asking for an extension that exceeded 30 days, they would have to go to the Information Commissioner and make a case as to why they were not able to satisfy that request within the normal period. There might even have been some negotiation with the Information Commissioner about what was an adequate extension. Therefore, we would not just take the department's word for it. However, that amendment did not survive, in my understanding, in the government motion.
It is quite right that one of the big frustrations with the current regime, not the only one but a big one, is the massive extensions that are self-granted by government, essentially without any third-party review. I think a pretty clear way of solving that problem would be to kick the extraordinary extensions over to the Information Commissioner to ensure that they really were required. However, my understanding is that we are not going to see that here. This is another example of where we are setting the bar too low for a once-in-generation reform of our access to information laws.
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