The children and family development ministry refused Public Eye access to controversial correspondence between its top bureaucrat and the province's independent child protection watchdog. That correspondence - which included allegations the government left vulnerable children in homes it judged unsafe - was obtained via a separate request filed with the children and youth representative's office. The ministry denied Public Eye's earlier freedom of information request on the grounds the records were prepared for the representative - an independent officer of the legislature. Under section 3(1)(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, that means those records are exempt from disclosure.
But, following that rejection, we filed the same request with the representative's office. In response, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond acknowledged some of those records may be exempt. But "in consideration of the principles of transparency and public accountability that I regularly espouse in relation to the system of supports to vulnerable children and youth, I have decided to release them."
Ms. Turpel-Lafond added "when consulted in the past on quests made to other public bodies, II have taken the view that records originating within a ministry are not records of an independent Office of the Legislature, and therefore are not exempt from disclosure and I support their release."
In an earlier memo, children and family development deputy minister Lesley du Toit stated "transparency" would be of one of her ministry's guiding principles. The correspondence between du Toit and Turpel-Lafond also shows the deputy has had a conflicted relationship with the representative.