News Release: Alleged destruction of Highway of Tears records points to ongoing abuse of Freedom of Information process

“No responsive records” systematically used by Government to avoid releasing documents in Freedom of Information requests

VANCOUVER— The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) is concerned that the alleged destruction of email records related to missing women on the Highway of Tears is a new and disturbing part of an ongoing trend by the BC government to try to avoid its legal obligation to release information.

In a letter written to B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, a former executive assistant to BC’s Minister of Transportation states that he was ordered to delete email records regarding the Highway of Tears. The emails had been requested under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

“If these allegations are correct, this is a serious escalation of a growing and deeply disturbing trend,” said BC FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “It is outrageous that a public official would delete emails and undermine the law, especially records related to an issue as important as missing women on the Highway of Tears.”

Following a complaint by BC FIPA, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner reported that the number of requests filed under FIPPA that returned with no records increased from 13% in 2008/09 to 25% in 2011/12.

“The BC Government has a legal duty to assist FOI requesters,” said Gogolek. “What appears to be happening is the government is actively working to block the release of information that people have a right to request.”

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CONTACT: Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director, office 604-739-9788

vincent@fipa.bc.ca | www.fipa.bc.ca | @bcfipa