Sent: Monday, September 28, 2009 9:05 AM
Subject: Reason # (Whatever) to Nuke the CBC
I know you’re getting your new puppy today and yes, she is waaaaaaayyyyyyy cuter than Ghadaffi.
But, when you have a second from the coo-ing and ohhh-hing and ahhhing that a new puppy inspires grownups to do, take a read of this. This should inspire people to light a rocket under the Conservatives to dump the CBC once and for all.
Looking forward to lots of puppy pictures.
CBC fights Access to Information czar in Federal Court
Interim commissioner Suzanne Legault calls CBC challenge a ‘precedent-setting’ case.
By Cynthia Münster
[The Hill Times]
The CBC is taking Canada’s Access to Information Commissioner’s Office to court over the public broadcaster’s fight to keep information about its journalism and programming secret.
Interim Access to Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault, who told The Hill Times that she has applied for the information commissioner’s job, said the case is “precedent-setting” because it will test a new provision in the Access to Information Act.
“It’s an important case because it’s a new provision under the act, so it will be important for jurisprudence in matters of access to information,” said Ms. Legault.
Since Sept. 1, 2007, the Federal Accountability Act modified the Access to Information Act to include the CBC and 70 other Crown corporations.
The CBC has reported the corporation has been swamped by requests and has developed a backlog of cases, which led to, among other things, the Canadian Newspaper Association ranking the corporation as the least transparent of federal agencies in an audit released earlier this year.
The disagreement relates to Sec. 68.1 of the Access to Information Act, an exemption created for the CBC, which provides exclusion for information under CBC control that relates to its journalistic, creative, or programming activities.
The CBC has been using the exemption in a number of cases and the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) argues that it should be able to review the relevant documents to assess whether the exemption was applied properly.
The CBC argues the commissioner has no legal authority to seek access to documents excluded under Sec. 68.1 of the act.
The corporation filed a federal court application on Sept. 16, asking the court to rule on whether the commissioner has the right to go through the records and review the decision to withhold them and Ms. Legault said she plans to file the OIC application on Sept. 28.
At first the OIC requested the documents and on Sept. 15 the office issued a subpoena for two of the requests. The CBC responded by filing a court application.
The court case will also likely raise issues over the protection of journalistic sources and Sec. 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Mario Dubé, the director of media relations and issues management for CBC, in an email to The Hill Times, said the CBC “firmly” believes that the production of its editorial independence and journalistic sources intended by Parliament “can only be effective if the commissioner cannot order the production of the records we’ve excluded.”
Declared Mr. Dubé: “It’s important to note that at this stage, commercial confidentiality is not an issue. The issue is about whether or not these records are covered by the act.”
Michel Drapeau, an Ottawa lawyer who is an access to information advocate, said this is “a massive change” and that Ms. Legault is doing a good job.
The Canadian Press reported last week that 13 of the 16 cases that will be discussed in court have been filed by Ottawa legal expert David Statham, of the Michel Drapeau law office, and on behalf of the Sun Media. CP reported that Mr. Statham filed 339 access to information requests over a three-month period in 2007. The newspaper chain has published a number of stories on the expense accounts of CBC executives.
“I am pleased as punch that the new administration is taking its role as a champion of access seriously. I’m not great on having to go to court, but if you need to go to court to enforce a right, and this is a democratic right then, by all means, this is the raison d’être of the information commissioner,” said Mr. Drapeau.
The requests want a broad range of information including a copy of audits from the last three Olympics performed by Deloitte Touche; a copy of all records on the costs of running the contest to find the new Hockey Night in Canada song; a copy of all records on the transition of the position of CEO from Robert Rabinovitch to Hubert T. Lacroix; a copy of the fees paid by the CBC for the submission of ATI requests during the 2007-2008 fiscal year; and a copy of all records and expense claims associated with the presentation of France’s Legion d’Honneur to Sylvain Lafrance (July 4, 2007), including a copy of exchanges between Mr. Lafrance and the president and the board of directors, concerning Mr. Lafrance’s acceptance of the foreign honour in his capacity as a CBC senior executive.
Mr. Drapeau said that until there is a court decision, this is a “catch-22” situation where requesters and the OIC have to take CBC at its word when they say the act doesn’t apply to certain documents or records.
Stated Mr. Drapeau: “I’m not suggesting that they are, but they can apply this to all sorts of records and when they do this, they can say to the information commissioner, ‘You cannot look at the records because our records are not covered by the act.’ So, until the court looks at it, and provides some guidance, it will be a sort of a cat and mouse [game]. Requesters, such as myself, will be asking information and organizations such as the CBC, but not only the CBC will say, ‘Well, sorry, this is not covered by the act, because it is part of [68.1], it’s excluded.’ The only thing I can do then is I can make a complaint to the information commissioner, the information commissioner may well believe that I’m right in my request and my complaint, but they cannot decide without having a look at the records.”
Ms. Legault said her office is dealing with two court cases, the other being a long-standing case the office filed with the Supreme Court in August, regarding the Prime Minister’s agenda. It involves several departments.
Ms. Legault said Canada is at a crossroads and the current access to information system may become meaningless if it doesn’t become digitized, in the submission process, as well as what people get when they receive their request.
She has also been working on implementing the business model developed by former commissioner Robert Marleau and focusing on the investigative part of the organization, which has included working closely with the Department of National Defence and Privy Council Office, two departments with ongoing issues of systemic delays.
The office has also been preparing for the annual “Right to Know” week.
Ms. Legault told The Hill Times that she has applied for the permanent Information Commissioner, for which a selection process is underway. Previous to this, she was appointed assistant information commissioner in June 2007 for a five-year term. The information commissioner has a $267,200 salary for 2009-2010.
The Hill Times
Since I believe state-owned media in a free country is an abject abrogation of our rights as free citizens, in addition to being the quintessential check mark indicating the weakness of a nation, and the height of logical idiocy, oh and all the proof we need that liberals and further leftists don’t trust Canadian citizens to act on their own with maturity and even a semblance of sophistication and must be guided by them (the government) at every turn in their lives, I think every scrap of paper and every taxpayer-purchased Post-It note should be posted online to be viewed by and shared by and laughed at by all the world. And then used throughout history as an example of how humans went so terribly wrong under repeated liberal or “progressive” government regimes.
And I’m sure you know by now that like all government programs, nothing on Earth will ever get rid of the CBC. The Conservative Party of Stephen Harper loves the CBC. They’ve said so. They have promised to never get rid of it, ever. And of course the Fabian socialist Liberals never will, and the outright socialists/communists of the you’ve got to be kidding party would nationalize all the media given half a chance, not unlike Hugo Chavez, whom they adore. The CBC… why it’s a “Canadian value”, as the Liberals claim everything they love is (which happens to be everything state-owned and state-run and government-planned and regulated). It’s literally priceless. The mentally and emotionally weak rely on it for comfort sort of like babies to mama’s tit. We must not change a thing.
Freedom is too scary for too many in this country. Better we just remain under the thumb of governments, and not risk living life to its fullest. Plus of course freedom isn’t free, and Canadians have been taught that everything “provided by the government” is free (and they think the government provided and granted them whatever freedom they do have, so it’s sort of a weird chicken and egg thing that way —or however you say that in Russian).
But have a nice day!
P.S. You know my mantra: State-owned media should be banned in this country and that notion enshrined in our constitution.
P.P.S. Since you mentioned nuking the CBC in your subject, here’s our official PTBC Nuke The CBC smiley, which readers will remember from the days when we commented on blog entries here.