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Archive For Entries On Access to Information

State Surveillance Powers Made Available to Plaintiffs in a Class Action: Imperial Oil v Jacques

In a decision released on October 17, 2014, Imperial Oil v Jacques, 2014 SCC 66, a majority of the Supreme Court upheld a Quebec motion court’s ruling that allowed plaintiffs in a class action to access relevant government surveillance materials during civil discovery proceedings. The class action arose after an investigation of gasoline price-fixing in Quebec led […]

Access to Information and Advice: Interpreting the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

In John Doe v Ontario (Finance), 2014 SCC 36 [John Doe], the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) provided a comprehensive explanation of a key provision of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSO 1990, c F.31 [FIPPA]. FIPPA is a mechanism that enables individuals to request disclosure of information from government officials (information on making […]

The Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in the Information Age: R v Spencer

On June 13, 2014, Cromwell J., in R v Spencer, 2014 SCC 43, gave a ruling on whether or not Matthew David Spencer had a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to his subscriber information. Contrary to the decision of the trial judge, Cromwell J. concluded that since “[t]he disclosure of the subscriber information will […]

SCC Continues to Navigate the Tension Between Labour Relations and Privacy in Bernard v Canada

Last November, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act, SA 2003 c P-6.5, which, inter alia, had the effect of preventing unions from filming individuals crossing a picket line, was an unjustifiable violation of the constitutional right to freedom of expression (for more, see the commentary by Avnish Nanda and Brock […]

Rob Ford’s Trial by Media and the Innocents Caught in the Undertow

These days, the pen (or, perhaps, the keyboard) is truly mightier than the sword. Pens shape public perception, and that power endures beyond borders and beyond lifetimes in our digital age of information. But as the adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility. The international media frenzy surrounding the Rob Ford saga has intensified […]

Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. v. Minister of Health – Part III

In Merck Frosst v. Canada, 2012 SCC 3, the forefront of the debate rests on the balance between commercial confidentiality and government transparency. In this 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) establishes a clear framework governing the disclosure of trade secrets, confidential information and commercially sensitive information filed with Health Canada for drug […]

Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. v. Minister of Health – Part II

Can innovator pharmaceutical companies rely on exemptions in the Access to Information Act (the “Act”) to block the disclosure of documents that might contain information that could hurt its business? The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) handed down its long-awaited decision on the treatment of sensitive commercial information under the Act in Merck Frosst v. […]

Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. v. Minister of Health – Part I

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” – Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, in “What Publicity Can Do”, Harper’s Weekly, 1913. In an environment that views public accountability with a healthy dose of skepticism, Parliament has advanced the Access to Information Act (the “Act”) to foster government transparency. In the pharmaceutical […]

Part 2: Freedom of Information From Osama To Ottawa

Even though our freedom of information legislation has not been thrust into the spotlight as violently as it did in the United States recently, we, as active citizens and civic participants, should take a closer look at our right to access information about governmental services in a timely and accurate fashion. Over the last few […]

Globe and Mail v. Canada – Whistle(blow) While You Work

As it stands, 2010 has been an interesting year for members of the media and media lawyers who are interested in the legal dimensions of the relationship between a journalist and her source. In particular, the Supreme Court of Canada has weighed in on two different issues related to journalist-source privilege. Earlier this year, in […]