Privacy Commissioner’s report uncovers Liberal government secrecy

June 05, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Liberal government secrecy is highlighted in the annual report of Nova Scotia’s Privacy Commissioner, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston said today.

“The data in Catherine Tully’s report shows that this is a hyper-secretive government that stubbornly hides information from Nova Scotians,” Houston said. “The numbers are shocking, particularly from a Premier who once promised to lead the most open and transparent government in the country.”

The report shows that government departments are the least likely to resolve FOIPOP reviews informally. The Privacy Commissioner reported that the overall information resolution rate in the province was only 81 per cent because government departments brought the average down. Departments resolved only 66 per cent of cases informally, compared to 88 per cent by all other public bodies, municipal bodies and health custodians.

To add insult to injury, the report says that government departments are the least likely of all public bodies to fully accept the Commissioner’s recommendations. Last year, government departments fully accepted only 40 per cent of the Commissioner’s recommendations. Other public bodies fully accepted 62 per cent.

“These numbers show a complete lack of respect for Nova Scotians, the Privacy Commissioner and the Freedom of Information system,” Houston said.  “When this government has a choice between being transparent and accepting the Commissioner’s recommendations, they choose secrecy 60 per cent of the time. When the Commissioner says Nova Scotians should have access to information, this government drops the dome of secrecy more than half of the time.”

Houston noted that the FOIPOP process is not the only place the Liberals hide information from the people who elected them. The government changed the rules of the Public Accounts Committee and turned the once powerful weekly committee into a monthly administrative exercise. The Liberals also used their majority to limit the legislature’s Health committee to a 90-minute per month schedule during  a health crisis.

“With this level of secrecy across government, it makes me wonder what the Liberals are hiding,”  Houston concluded.