Friday, August 12, 2011

Judge dismisses reasons RCMP documents on Tommy Douglas kept secret

Federal court orders review of Library and Archives Canada decision

By Amy Chung
Postmedia News
August 11, 2011

Information about how spies monitored Tommy Douglas for 30 years may be a step closer to becoming public, after a Federal Court decision Thursday.

OTTAWA — The Federal Court has ordered Library and Archives Canada to review its decision to conceal parts of a secret RCMP dossier on Tommy Douglas, the father of Canadian medicare.

Federal Court Judge Simon Noel issued a 90-page ruling Thursday that has given the institution 30 days to provide an explanation if there are additional documents, or to determine if there are pages missing from the dossier since several pages identified during the hearing "appeared to be missing," said Federal Court media spokesperson Andrew Baumberg. Library and Archives Canada will also have 90 days to redo its assessment of the access-to-Information request.

The initial access-to-information request for the 1,142-page dossier was made by Canadian Press journalist Jim Bronskill in 2005, but he was granted only 400 heavily censored pages.

The released documents showed that federal spies monitored Douglas for over 30 years.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service advised Library and Archives the release of the documents would be a security threat and a large portion of the file was withheld.

Bronksill then moved his case to the Office of the Information Commissioner, which sided with the government, saying the release of the 75-year-old document would put Canada's defence in danger.

"The Court is not satisfied that the information still withheld is retained in a manner consistent with section 15 of the (Access to Information) Act. More should be done on the Respondent's part to ensure consistency in disclosure, and many documents cannot be found consistently, and reasonably withheld under the grounds found in section 15," concluded Noel.

Douglas was premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961 and became the first leader of the federal NDP.

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