The court ruled that records in ministers offices are not subject to disclosure under the Act, apart from certain records deemed to be under the departments control. The criterion set by the court for establishing which records fall into this category is that they can be requested and obtained by the Deputy Minister or by senior officials to deal with departmental matters. The Information Commissioners position is that this criterion leaves the determination of which records come under the control of the department open to interpretation and could severely limit the scope of the Access to Information Act. In the Commissioners view, a record generated or obtained by a Minister, or on his behalf, relating to the administration of their department, is subject to the Act regardless of where the record is located.
The lawsuit arose in part out of attempts to gain access to the daily agenda books of former prime minister Jean Chrétien [official profile]. The access request was made by a researcher affiliated with the now-defunct Canadian Alliance party, a conservative party that opposed Chrétien's Liberal Party [party website].
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.