One of the comments:
Thank goodness there are still people with the integrity and the resources to try to get basic background information about what this government is doing. It pretends to be open and transparent. It’s about as transparent as a piece of tin foil.
Regina prof finally granted Husky oil spill-related documents, “I am pleased to report that I now have in my possession some 4,300 pages of internal documents pertaining to the Husky pipeline spill clean-up.” by Jennifer Ackerman and Heather Polischuk with files from Alex MacPherson, Nov 7, 2019, Regina Leader-Post
A Regina professor has dropped her case against the provincial government after finally receiving more than 4,000 pages of internal documents, sought through a freedom of information request, about the 2016 oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River.
Addressing media outside Regina Court of Queen’s Bench on Wednesday, Patricia Elliott held up a thumb drive containing internal documents, provided by the Ministry of Environment.
“There are 4,300 pages of documents on the Husky spill cleanup in 2017, which is what I requested, so on Friday, my case was officially withdrawn,” she said.
Elliott, a professor and journalist, applied to Court of Queen’s bench in May, asking the court to order the Saskatchewan government to hand over the documents she was being denied despite recommendations from the province’s Privacy Commissioner Ron Kruzeniski that they be released.
The documents include correspondence and reports on summer clean-up activities and lingering impacts in 2017, one year following the spill.
“It’s the second anniversary of my information request I submitted in November 2017,” Elliott said, thanking her lawyer Dan LeBlanc and various citizens who donated to her legal costs.
“The victory is yours,” she said.
Elliott launched a fundraiser back in May to help pay for legal fees expected to range somewhere between $8,000 and $12,000.
As co-appellant, Husky Oil identified 17 pages for redaction on the grounds they contained information revealing the location of the pipeline that failed. Elliott said she has no pressing need for that information, so accepted the redaction.
Her case originally also named the Ministry of Energy and Resources, but she withdrew that portion in June after it handed over the pipeline inspection reports she had requested.
“It was really just a spreadsheet with a few entries which, to me, shows how lightly pipelines have been in the past monitored and regulated in the province,” she said.
Elliott said her experience shows that Saskatchewan’s information laws must be reformed, noting it took the threat of court action and eight additional months before the government released the documents. [Petro state gov’ts just ignore laws and court orders that don’t suit them or the polluters that govts enable. Reforming laws would lead to just more of the same, or more likely make things easier for polluters and govts to keep secrets and withhold public information that taxpayers pay for (taxpayers pay the salaries and huge pensions of govt, not oil and gas industry profit rapers & polluters] She argues the privacy commissioner should have order-making powers like in other provinces so the burden doesn’t fall to citizens.
“The commissioner found in my favour that the document should be public, and the government chose to not follow that recommendation,” she said of the reason she originally sought court action. “Under the current laws, they have a right to ignore the privacy commissioner, so that’s what they did … Unless the government is compelled to provide information under the legislation, they will avoid it. [In Ernst’s only legal victory so far (which Ernst did without expensive lawyers, go figure), the Alberta OIP Commissioner ordered public water well investigation records released to her, which the Alberta government refused to heed, feebly citing Ernst’s lawsuit as excuse] And for the most part, they can get away with it because who has the money to pursue this when it falls back on the individual? [That’s the intent of Canada’s (copied from the UK’s) abusive legal system! It’s was created and is maintainted to keep it unaffordable for nearly all civil Canadians, put much money into lawyer and judge pockets, while protected rapists, pedophiles, corporate polluters, the rich, and the often law-violating establishment and our politicians] … I think when they make those refusals, they really do count on citizens thinking, ‘Well, I can’t afford to pursue this so it’s over.’ “
Elliott hopes the University of Regina is watching this development closely and will make the same “wise choice” as they continue their battle against another professor’s freedom of information request, which they denied in part back in 2017 and again in 2018.
Emily Eaton, who works in the department of geography and environmental studies, filed an appeal in January after first appealing the university’s denial of her request to the privacy commissioner in 2018.
Looking into how research being done at institutions like the U of R is influenced by fossil fuel interests, Eaton asked for information related to external research funding (public and private) for fossil fuel research projects.
Her case was also reviewed by Kruzeniski who recommended the information she requested be released in full. After Eaton filed her appeal at the Court of Queen’s Bench, the U of R applied to have the case heard in a closed courtroom.
In May, the court ruled against the U of R and ordered the case to be heard in open court. [That’s a shocker] Eaton is awaiting the court date, set for Feb. 26, 2020.
“As academics, we have a tradition of pursuing the truth or our research with full disclosure of our research funders, so I think they’re really going against academic traditions,” she said on Thursday. “And I think it’s appearing like they have something serious to hide and that’s never a good thing.”
So far she has raised a little over $11,575 of a $24,000 goal through a GoFundMe campaign to help cover her legal fees. The goal is to cover all anticipated costs.
Refer also to: