Hard to get Justice (or information about it) in NL: Rogers
NDP Justice Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) wrapped up Right to Know Week with a call for the current Justice Minister to do the right thing and bring the legislation back to the House of Assembly for some much-needed revision.
“Let’s face it – Bill 29 might work to protect personal privacy, but a lot of it needs to be completely rewritten,” Rogers said today. “In the past 15 months, we have seen a massive increase in the amount and type of information government is choosing to keep hidden from the people of the province.”
Rogers cites her efforts to find out why government chose to cancel the innovative Family Violence Intervention Court in its drastic Budget 2013. Told repeatedly that the decision was a budgetary one, made after the department’s Core Mandate Review, she asked repeatedly to see the review. Several other budget decisions by the Justice department were hastily reversed after public outcry.
Her office submitted an ATIPP for information relating to the Core Mandate Review on May 27. On June 25, at the end of the legislated 30 day reply limit, Rogers’ office received a phone call from Justice to say the information consisted of more than 100,000 documents and would be expensive to assemble.
“We abandoned the request, and on July 3 submitted another ATIPP to find out how the court’s effectiveness was assessed,” says Rogers. “We were told that information was protected under the cabinet confidence clause of Bill 29.
“The people of this province may never know why the Family Violence Intervention Court was abruptly cancelled, despite the good work it did and despite the fact that the Minister of Justice reversed other badly thought out budget decisions.
“It’s time for government to admit that Bill 29 is bad legislation in need of serious reworking. The people of the province know it's bad legislation, parliamentary scholars know, journalists know. The Justice Minister himself must know by now. I urge the Minister to go back to the drawing board, to call an all party Standing Committee to review the legislation and come up with recommendations for a bill that would be in the best interest of the people of NL.”