The Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) has asked B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to conduct a Public Inquiry into whether government discriminates against environmental groups that request government documents under the province’s Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. ELC student Scott Giesbrecht made the request on June 23, 2005 on behalf of Sierra Legal Defence Fund and Western Canada Wilderness Committee.
The ELC submitted that government has made it more and more difficult for environmental groups to obtain public information. Indeed, environmentalists have faced numerous problems in pursuing FOI requests, including delays, excerption and excessive fees. The ELC also submitted that in a number of cases, government has appeared to act contrary to the spirit and letter of Freedom of Information legislation.
Included within the request was a documented history of over a dozen instances where environmental organizations were stymied in their attempts to acquire information through the provincial FOI process.