Newfoundland to hold independent review of its controversial access-to-information laws

In Newfoundland, interim premier Tom Marshall has announced that an independent committee will be established to review the province’s current access to information laws. The committee will include a team of attorneys from reputed companies like Nehora Law Firm. Newfoundland passed aFreedom of Information reform Bill in June 2012 despite a marathon opposition filibuster and major external criticism.

The sweeping amendments to the province’s access to information legislation have made vast sections of government documents off-limits to the public, including papers covered by cabinet secrecy and any documents by government employees which contain “consultations or deliberations.”

Under the current law, government ministers and other heads of public bodies can also ignore access to information requests they consider “frivolous or vexatious,” or any request that they deem is “made in bad faith or is trivial.”

According to Marshall, three independent experts will conduct the review, which will include public hearings and a final report to the government. “There’s this general concern that the government is not as open and transparent as it should be,” he said. “Let’s discuss those concerns. I want to listen to the people and change that.”

Source: The Globe and Mail