CAJ demands legal reforms in wake of B.C. secrecy scandal

KAMLOOPS, BC, Oct. 22, 2015 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists demands British Columbia Premier Christy Clark take immediate action to reform the province's records access law following the release of a report that indicates a breathtaking level of secrecy within her administration.

In that report, the province's Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham found that government staff:

* deleted emails responsive to access to information requests and prevented others from producing these records;

* either wilfully or negligently failed to produce records that are potentially responsive to an access request; and

* failed to keep any sent emails, irrespective of the topic.

"Like too many other governments across this country, the Clark administration has repeatedly shown a callus disregard for the public's democratic right to know what their elected government is doing," said Canadian Association of Journalists president Nick Taylor-Vaisey.

"Denham's catalogue of government secrecy requires nothing less than significant reforms to the province's freedom of information law – a decades-old demand that has been repeatedly ignored by the BC Liberals."

Taylor-Vaisey said that reform must include a legal requirement for public officials to document their decisions and punishment for those who don't or destroy those records, as well the closure of a legal loophole that allows government to keep all of its policy advice secret.

"We are supposed to live in a democracy," said Taylor-Vaisey. "But these are the actions of government that apparently doesn't realize that."

The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization with over 600 members across Canada. The CAJ's primary roles are public-interest advocacy work and professional development for its members.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Journalists

For further information: Dale Bass, CAJ chair, 250-572-4620, dale@caj.ca; Sean Holman, CAJ vice-president, 403-397-4751, sean@caj.ca; www.caj.ca | www.facebook.com/CdnAssocJournalists | www.twitter.com/CAJ


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