OTTAWA, June 12, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is
shocked at changes proposed to the Newfoundland and Labrador Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act that could shroud public
information in darkness.
The province's House of Assembly has been debating Bill 29, which proposes amendments including a trio of items that would
reclassify large amounts of public information so they would not be
released when requested through the access-to-information process.
The definition of "cabinet secrecy" would be broadened to include newly
created classes of information and any documents or briefings prepared
for cabinet - regardless of whether or not they ever get considered by
cabinet. This would also impact the information available to the
province's auditor general;
Government research reports and audits could be withheld for up to three
years if a cabinet minister decides they are not complete. This could
allow politically sensitive or damaging documents to be kept in
perpetual draft form to prevent their release; and,
Access fees could increase - specifically processing fees which would
jump by 66 per cent from $15 an hour to $25 an hour. The government
could also charge "contemplation" time while officials decide what gets
withheld or released.
"Government work - including information - paid for by the public
belongs to the public," CAJ president Hugo Rodrigues said. "This bill
would erect some very large roadblocks for journalists and any other
members of the public who wish to see what their government is doing
and hold it accountable for its decisions."
The bill's amendments seem to fly in the face of the comments from
Justice Minister Felix Collins, who was quoted Monday saying his
government remains committed to openness, transparency and
The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for
journalists from all media, representing almost 600 members across the
country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality
professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.
SOURCE Canadian Association of Journalists
For further information:
Hugo Rodrigues, CAJ president - 519-756-2020 ext. 2226, 519-535-8680, email@example.com
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