B.C. urged to stop amendments to freedom of information and privacy legislation

Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, West Coast LEAF and other groups support call to action

B.C. urged to stop amendments to freedom of information and privacy legislation

A coalition of civil society organizations is urging B.C. to withdraw Bill 22’s amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and allow the all-party special committee to complete its work, including an open consultation process.

The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association’s president, Mike Larsen, and executive director, Jason Woywada, signed the joint letter dated Oct. 26 and addressed it to John Horgan, B.C.’s premier, and Lisa Beare, B.C.’s citizens’ services minister.

“You have made prior commitments regarding the value you place on transparency and about the need to improve government accountability, but this legislation would make it harder for everyone — concerned citizens, experienced researchers, and you — to get facts rather than spin,” the letter said.

The letter called upon the B.C. government to recognize the all-party special committee’s role, commit to introducing comprehensive amendments to the legislation that reflect past and current special committees’ recommendations and show this commitment by taking steps to improve the transparency of public bodies.

According to the letter, the bill, if passed, will represent a backward step for openness and accountability and a missed opportunity for British Columbians to have better privacy and information rights.

The bill will also undermine access to information and transparency among public bodies regarding vital matters of public interest, will short-circuit the efforts of the special legislative committee that reviews the legislation and will prevent meaningful public consultation, said the letter.

The letter recognized that B.C.’s government could quickly pass this bill, potentially introducing substantive changes to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in more than a decade.

“If that happens, it will impact the citizens of British Columbia now, haunt us into the future, and set a dangerous precedent across Canada,” said the letter.

The coalition is led by the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association and supported by organizations such as the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies, the Centre for Law and Democracy, the Centre for Access to Information and Justice, Democracy Watch, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, the Privacy and Access Council of Canada, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund, as well as certain interested individuals.

Related stories

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered on a regular basis, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

SCC relies on treaty in finding foreign company exempt from paying tax in Canada

Ontario court pilot shows trend toward family dispute resolution: lawyer

COVID-19 and the courts: Nov. 29, 2021 update

Thank you to our Advisory Panel for dedicating their time to the 2021 Lexpert Rising Stars Awards!

B.C.'s bill on electronic wills, remote witnessing to come into force this December

Law Society of B.C. is appealing tribunal decision to ban Richmond Hong Guo lawyer for a year

Most Read Articles

Announcing the 2021 Lexpert Rising Stars

Lawyers' petition protests 'erosion of our free society' through vaccine passports, mandates

COVID-19 has created challenges in completing some deals as potential buyers seek ways to get out

Last chance to take vote for the Top Intellectual Property and Labour & Employment Boutiques