FIPA is calling on the Liberal government to give the Special Committee reviewing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act the full year the law provides, instead of the eight months it just set out in the terms of reference for the committee.
The Act provides that the committee must not take more than a year to submit its report, and this is the first time since the FOIPP Act was passed that a BC government has decided to give the committee less time than the law allows to review it.
In a letter to Premier Campbell, FIPA Executive Director Darrell Evans pointed out that the government gave no reason for ordering the committee to report back to the legislature on May 31, 2010, instead of October 2010.
“We don’t see any reason why the current committee and its members should be put in a position where they have only two thirds of the time that was required by their predecessors to do this important work,” Evans wrote. “If you have such a reason, we look forward to hearing it.”
There have been two Special Committees to review the Act in 1998 and 2003, and each was given a full year to get up to speed on the law, solicit submissions, hear from witnesses and prepare their reports. Both committees produced some important and carefully considered recommendations.
The deadline for public submissions to the Special Committee is currently January 29, 2010.
“This short deadline will also impair the ability of citizens and public interest groups (who are usually overburdened with their regular workload) to do the necessary research and provide full comment to the Committee”, Evans wrote. “Many of these submissions are prepared by volunteers in their spare time, and your government has tied their hands for no good or even discernible reason.”