Last month, in his annual report, Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis called on "the Premier and Cabinet to show leadership by amending the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to restore the public's access to information rights that were curtailed by a BC Court of Appeal Decision." That decision broadened the interpretation of section 13 of the legislation, which allows government to curtail access to records that "reveal advice or recommendations developed by or for a public body or a minister." Of course, this isn't the first time such an amendement has been suggested. Back in May 2004, the special committee to review the freedom of information and protection of privacy act, said the same thing. So what does that then chair of that committee - parliamentary secretary for rural development Blair Lekstrom - think of Mr. Loukidelis's recent urgings?
In an interview with Public Eye, Mr. Lekstrom said, "I certainly support amending (section 13). And I've had discussions with the commissioner, I've had discussions with the minister responsible to let them know where I'm at." And when the issue comes up for debate during the next sitting of the legislature, the Liberal MLA says he will "speak on the importance of changing" section 13.
So is he prepared to introduce an amendment to that effect? "I'm looking at that right now, possibly, yeah. Where that will end - no one will ever know until it hits the floor and we can have full discussion about that. But I think it's important. I certainly - and anyone who uses the legislation - realizes there's the balance to access to information and protection of privacy. But you don't want to tilt the balance too far. And I think the section 13, as it reads, is tilted too far."