Musings —05.13.2011 09:02 AM—
The Supremes made the right decision. If they had gone the other way, it would have had some pretty serious cost and security consequences.
Parliament has created multiple safeguards to provide for reasonable access to the doings of government. But access needs to be weighed against efficiency, too. As Justice LeBel wrote:
“I agree completely with my colleague that this interpretative approach must be reconciled with “the need for a private space to allow for the full and frank discussion of issues” (para. 41). I also agree with her that in s. 21 of the Act, Parliament has recognized “the need for confidential advice to be sought by and provided to a Minister and [that], consequently, records in a government institution offering such advice are exempt from disclosure at the discretion of the head of the institution” (para. 41).
From a CBC story that skims over the decision:
“…At issue was whether documents physically housed within the Prime Miniser’s Office and the offices of ministers are accessible to the public under the legislation, and whether they are considered officers of the government institutions they head, or are separate.
The legal battle began in 1999 with a campaign to view former prime minister Jean Chrétien’s schedules, and those of the transport and defence ministers. A member of the Reform Party used the access to information law to try to get the records dating back to 1994.
During that time, Chrétien was leading a majority Liberal government and had to fend off a number of controversies. Requests for the records were made to the PMO, the Privy Council Office (the bureaucratic arm of the PMO) and the RCMP, which provides the prime minister’s security detail.”