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Archive For Entries On Access to Information

The Retirement of Justice Louis LeBel and the Secretive Process that Led to the Appointment of Suzanne Côté

The government has slammed the door on parliamentary and public involvement regarding the replacement of retiring Justice Louis LeBel. On November 30, 2014, Justice LeBel turned 75, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges. Most justices often depart some months before their birthdays, but LeBel decided to take his tenure right to the end. […]

Confidentiality and the Ontario Sex Offender Registry: CSCS v IPC

In Ontario (Community Safety and Correctional Services) v Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2014 SCC 31 [CSCS v IPC], the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) was asked to interpret the interaction between the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSO 1990, c F31 [FIPPA] and Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000, SO 2000, […]

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: Bernard v Canada

Last November, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) 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 […]

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 […]