November 14, 2017

NDP must answer on political interference in Freedom of Information process

Freedom of Information documents obtained by the United Conservative Official Opposition raise serious questions regarding political interference in the FOIP process.

The documents strongly suggest that Premier Notley’s former Chief of Staff, John Heaney, personally interfered in the release of an Official Opposition FOIP request, despite receiving advice that there were no grounds under the FOIP Act to delay or deny the release.

“To see the most powerful political operative in government seemingly interfere with the legitimate release of public records is not only shameful, it’s arguably illegal” said UCP Caucus Leader Jason Nixon. “The NDP does everything it possibly can to avoid being transparent and accountable to Albertans. This latest incident of suspected political interference demands the question: what is the NDP so desperate to hide?”

The original FOIP request sought message tracking logs for several senior NDP officials, including Mr. Heaney and now-Chief of Staff Nathan Rotman. After lengthy delays, a second request related to the first revealed Heaney intervened to stop the original release. These documents also show that until Heaney’s intervention, the original request had been approved for release by public service officials.

“The apparent actions taken by Mr. Heaney would be in direct contravention of the law,” said UCP Democracy and Accountability Critic Nathan Cooper. “It’s clear that the Official Opposition has been on the right track with our FOIP requests. Why else would the Premier’s most senior staff have involved themselves? I have written once again to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, asking her to investigate this latest interference by a government determined to keep Albertans in the dark.”