The office of the freedom of information and privacy commissioner has found it's in the public interest for the government to release records of phone calls from members of the premier's office to provincial Liberal insider Patrick Kinsella. But the premier's office has ignored that finding, continuing to refuse to release that information unless a hefty fee is paid.
Public Eye filed a freedom of information request for those records on November 9, 2008 following our extensive coverage of Mr. Kinsella's apparent links to some of the Campbell administration's most controversial decisions. The premier's office responded four months later with a $450 bill.
Under the province's freedom of information law, the government could waive that fee if the request is in the public interest. But then deputy attorney general Allan Seckel - who has since been named head of the civil service - decided not to grant such a waiver just as the recent election got underway.
During that election, the New Democrats made Mr. Kinsella one of the primary focuses of their campaign until his lawyer sent the party a letter stating the accusations being levelled against him by the party were defamatory, malicious and false.
Public Eye filed a complaint about Mr. Seckel's decision with the province's freedom of information commissioner.
In response, an analyst with the commissioner's office found that "while the applicant's request will reveal only the number of calls placed to Mr. Kinsella and when they were made, and not the substance of those calls, I do accept that the number of calls and when they were made is a matter of public interest."
The premier's office has told the analyst it disagrees with those findings. But it's not telling the analyst why.
"Despite asking for submissions on numerous occasions, I did not receive a response from the OPP...as to their refusal of the fee waiver," portfolio officer Troy Taillefer wrote in a letter to Public Eye.
So the next step is for us to proceed with a formal inquiry into the matter, during which the government will waste more taxpayer time trying to keep Gordon Campbell's secrets.