Minister’s notes blocked from public view

The Yukon Development Corporation is blacking out ministerial notes that should be available to any citizen, says New Democratic Party Leader Todd Hardy.

The Yukon Development Corporation is blacking out ministerial notes that should be available to any citizen, says New Democratic Party Leader Todd Hardy.

The party made an access to information request for the corporation’s ministerial briefing notes, and got 25 blacked out pages.

“Ninety-five per cent of it is blacked out,” said Todd Hardy, the party’s leader.

The headings and even the index is blacked out, rendering the notes completely useless.

“I’m not even sure why they sent it to us because they’re obviously not giving us the briefing notes,” said Hardy.

The notes were issued on March 23 to Jim Kenyon, the minister responsible for the corporation. They’re compiled by the agency and serve as a basic answer sheet for legislature debates.

The notes help the opposition find out what the government is up to, said Hardy.

They would allow the party to pre-empt the minister’s answers in the legislature, but would also allow the party to ask more probing questions, he said.

“We don’t always get that information in the legislature,” he said. “Sometimes (the minister) decides he’s not going to respond to our questions.”

“Frankly, to make the legislature work better, the more information we have the more we can craft questions that are intelligent,” he said.

The New Democrats made similar requests to the departments of Community Services and Corporate Services, and got inch-thick files with nothing blacked out.

“It’s shockingly disingenuous in their behaviour when they talk about informing the people more about what they’re doing,” said Hardy.

The Yukon Development Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary and is fully open to access to information requests. However, departments can block certain information.

“However, the fact is that every other department does (provide the information,)” said Hardy. “There’s no way in the world that everything blacked out is critical to negotiations that the Yukon Development Corporation is involved in.”

“I would love to see the real document and I would guarantee that the information blacked out is not critical or confidential,” he said.

The New Democrats are planning to appeal to the minister directly for a fresh and marker-free copy of the notes, and if that fails they will bring the issue up at the next Public Accounts committee, where the corporation’s chief executive officer, David Morrison, can be subpoenaed.

And if that fails, the party will have no choice but to appeal the notes to the privacy commissioner or ask for a whole new request.

“There’s no reason for (the black out), unless they’re up to something that they don’t want the public to know,” said Hardy. “Or they’re getting that directive from the minister.”

Neither Morrison or Kenyon returned calls before press time.

Kenyon is in Korea for the week, said Emily Younker, cabinet communications.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com.

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