January 15th, 2021

Info watchdog raps Privy Council Office for terminating access requests from public


By The Canadian Press on January 5, 2021.

The main door to the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council Office is seen in Ottawa, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – The federal information watchdog has chastised the prime minister’s bureaucrats for shutting down several requests from the public without good cause.

In a series of decisions made public Tuesday, information commissioner Caroline Maynard reveals the Privy Council Office simply closed four Access to Information requests to avoid missing due dates.

In each case, the body that supports the prime minister was waiting for input from other federal agencies on whether Cold War-era intelligence records could be disclosed to requesters who filed formal applications under the access law.

Maynard ruled the access act does not allow the PCO to fail to respond to an access request on the grounds it has yet to receive recommendations from consulted institutions.

In the first of the four decisions, dated Oct. 14, Maynard expressed disappointment with the PCO, noting it is a central institution headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has signalled a commitment to transparency and openness.

Maynard notes in her three subsequent decisions, all dated Nov. 9, that the PCO has since ended the practice of closing request files while consultations are outstanding.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021.

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