WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Liberals will increase the amount of government information available to Yukoners by amending the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, says Tracy McPhee, Liberal candidate for Riverdale South. Tracy was the Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner and Ombudsman from 2007 to 2012.
On the last day of the legislative sitting in 2012, the Yukon Party used a guillotine clause to pass amendments to the ATIPP Act. The amendments allow the government to deny access to some government documents including briefing notes prepared for ministers - making it one of only three Canadian jurisdictions with such restrictions. At the time, the Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Tim Keopke rejected the ‘unprecedented’ amendments, but was ignored by the Yukon Party.
“This is contrary to the purpose of the ATIPP legislation,” said McPhee. “The law says that Yukoners are to have access to requested information unless there is a reason, set out in the ATIPP Act, that it should not be disclosed. The Yukon Party's approach has always been – “don't disclose requested information, unless we absolutely have to". These are two very different approaches that result in very different answers to the public.”
The ATIPP Act has not had a full review since it was proclaimed twenty years ago and the Yukon Party waited until the last minute of its 14th year in office to initiate a review in the summer of 2016.
“When elected, a Liberal Government will assess the current review and make amendments to the ATIPP Act to repeal most, if not all, of the changes made by the Yukon Party in 2012,” said McPhee. “Other amendments should include modernizing the law to take into account electronic information, increased powers of investigation for the IPC and having government proactively make some information publicly available.”
“The purpose of the ATIPP Act is two-fold: one, to provide a process for citizens to have access to information, and two, to require that public bodies that collect, use and disclose personal information do so while protecting the privacy of individuals,” McPhee said. “Access to Information legislation supports open and accountable government and enshrines the fundamental right that citizens deserve to know how their government is making its decisions.”
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Tracy McPhee Yukon Liberals candidate, Riverdale South
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