Transparency, Privacy, and the Federal Election

It is election season, and the leaders of Canada’s political parties are making promises, presenting platforms, and answering questions about plans and policies.

The next Government of Canada will have to take positions on transparency reform, privacy in a digital age, democracy and Big Data, and the regulation of increasingly-intrusive surveillance practices.

We want to make sure that the information and privacy rights are part of the public conversation during the election period, and we want your help!

Send us an email at and share the information and privacy policy questions that you would like to see answered by the federal political parties.

We will be compiling an Election Questionnaire, just as we did during BC’s last provincial election, and sending it to the major parties.

The election is on the horizon, so we hope to hear from you soon!

FIPA Mini-Bulletin: June 2015

Newletter email header

FIPA Mini-Bulletin: June 2015

The past month has been action-packed at FIPA.

At the Federal level, the passing of Bill C-51 in the Senate and the Conservative Government’s retroactive attack on access to information through the C-59 Omnibus Bill set the tone for the month.

In BC, allegations were made by a former executive assistant to the Minister of Transportation that he was ordered to delete Highway of Tears email records and an ATI request by the Vancouver Sun revealed that there was never a real RCMP criminal investigation into the BC Ministry of Health firings in 2012. Find out what FIPA and some of our friends had to say about these issues – and more – by clicking on the links below.

FIPA’s News
Huffington Post blog: ‘Information Crime’ Big Theme In B.C. Spring 2015 Session

FIPA asks Information Commissioner to investigate BC Government conduct in Ministry of Health hearing

FIPA posts submissions from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s Hearing on the Ministry of Health firings

FIPA letter to Prime Minister Harper: Retroactivity in Bill C-59

Bill C 59 meme: Stephen Harper goes back in time to undo crime. Not exactly as illustrated.

New decisions are a major victory for FOI requesters

Other News

The BC Teachers’ Federation backgrounder on Bill 11 and Student Privacy

Open Media’s “Kill Bill C 51” action site

Michael Geist speaks out on privacy and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

B.C. Grand Chief: Federal Government Destroyed Land-Claim Emails

FIPA finally gets Ministry of Health records after two year battle

It took two years, but the records requested by FIPA in 2012 regarding contracts and other records related to the mysterious Ministry of Health data breach case have finally been released and are posted on our website.

FIPA had requested the following information:

Photo under CC license by Flickr: Tranchis
Photo under CC license by Flickr: Tranchis

  • Data sharing and other agreements involving the Ministry and four named individuals;
  • Correspondence between the Ministry and the four named individuals relating to the agreements, particularly correspondence about delays or impediments to accessing data for research purposes;
  • E-mails, memos or other notices to staff from the Ministry’s Assistant Deputy Minister of Information Management/Information Technology Division regarding delays or impediments to the release of data to researchers; and
  • Any policy changes relating to release of data to researchers.

FIPA made the request before the firings (and subsequent rehirings) of a number of Ministry employees and contractors working in the Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Services Division. The Ministry initially refused to release any documents, but eventually dropped a number of claims it was using to try to justify refusing to release the records.

The government’s main claim was that releasing these records would damage ongoing investigations into the situation. The Adjudicator was not convinced, stating:

“In my view, the Ministry’s submissions are based on speculation, and there is no objective evidentiary basis for concluding that the harms the Ministry fears will result from disclosure to the applicant.”

The Ministry was also unsuccessful in claiming other records were policy advice or personal information. They were able to keep various computer related records secret, such as passwords.

The records show there was a great deal of concern about getting documents to UBC for signing before the beginning of Question Period to allow the minister to provide a positive answer to questions (p. 265-68). Many of the emails seem to relate to technical difficulties with the wording of the contracts, and also difficulties in gaining access to medical records, usually for technical reasons. There is also mention of the “swamp of data access” (p. 288) and concerns about conflicts of interest being used by “our detractors” (p. 300).

FIPA Bulletin – June 2013

In this issue:

  • BC Election: It’s time to double down on info rights
  • BC Election Act causes confusion, chills free speech — again
  • Major data security issues bedevil the Federal Government
  • A National ID Card by Stealth?
  • Fighting for a fair deal: FIPA continues to oppose Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • FIPA is hiring! Join the team
  • Access in the Academy: FIPA to launch new ATI/FOI resource for researchers

Download the bulletin (pdf).