Tories to take Liberals to court to end Liberal secrecy
February 10, 2019
Today, Tim Houston struck a blow against Liberal secrecy and announced the Progressive Conservative Caucus will sue the Liberal government.
“Time after time, this Liberal government has hidden information from Nova Scotians that they have a right to know,” Houston said. “The Liberals will continue their secretive ways until someone stops them. The time is now.”
In May 2016, the PC Caucus submitted a Freedom of Information request asking for the contract between the Province of Nova Scotia and the operator of the Yarmouth ferry. The Liberals refused to disclose the management fee taxpayers pay the company. The PC Caucus launched an appeal of that decision and in December 2018 the Commissioner ruled that the information should be made public.
A month later, the government defied the Privacy Commissioner and refused to disclose the information, saying the only way to force the government to be transparent was to take the government to court.
“Nova Scotians should not have to take their own government to court to find out how their tax dollars are being spent,” Houston said. “The Liberals are betting on the fact that most Nova Scotians don’t have the will, the resources or the desire to get a lawyer and begin legal proceedings.”
Liberal defiance of the Privacy Commissioner is only one aspect of a disturbing pattern of secrecy the Liberal government has established:
- Last April, the Liberals blocked PC attempts to call Internal Services Department officials to the Public Accounts Committee to explain a privacy breach that exposed the personal information of hundreds of Nova Scotians.
- In May 2018, the Liberals blocked Department of Justice officials from appearing before Public Accounts following a very critical and damning report from the Auditor General about four jails.
- In September, the Liberal members on the Public Accounts committee used their majority to change the longstanding practice of allowing all three parties in the House to pick topics and decide who will be called before the committee.· Last month, the Liberals used their majority to block a physician from appearing before the newly established Health Committee. Earlier in the month, the Liberals restricted the work schedule of the committee to only 90 minutes per month.
- Also in January, the Liberals blocked topics such as the Cape Breton mental health crisis and university funding from coming before Public Accounts
- The Liberals refused to comply, in whole or in part, with 80 percent of the reports the Privacy Commissioner issued in 2018.
“The fact is, this government has shown over and over again that they don’t want anyone snooping around, asking questions and finding out what they are really up to,” Houston concluded. “I cannot stand by as they continue to defy the Privacy Commissioner and conceal information they don’t want Nova Scotians to know. That’s why we are taking the extraordinary step of taking the government to court.”
Houston filed a Notice of Appeal at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (1815 Upper Water Street, Halifax, NS) at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, February 11.