Friday, May 08, 2009


Yesterday I received a letter from the Minister of Police about an OIA request I lodged several months ago for advice on "cease and desist" orders which has now become the subject of a complaint to the Ombudsmen. It began by outlining the request and the complaint, then continued:

Having considered the Ombudsman's views, I now enclose the section from the paper provided to me that falls within the scope of your request...
(I'll post on the actual advice released later, but note for now that it only partially met the request)

Feeling quite pleased, I contacted the Ombudsmen's Office to thank them, only to be asked "what are you talking about?" The Ombudsman apparently hadn't expressed any views on my complaint; all he had done was ask for a copy of the information withheld and the reasons for withholding it.

It's tempting to chalk this up as a victory for the OIA appeal process, and it might be. Except what it tells us is that the Minister's original decision to withhold was so meritless that it could not withstand any independent scrutiny, and she knew it. On the most charitable interpretation, the Minister made an indefensible and outright illegal decision to withhold information in the hope that I would not complain about it (a tactic which probably works nine times out of ten). A more suspicious person - and given my other interactions with this Minister, I am inclined to be suspicious - might think that she had deliberately tried to mislead me about the outcome of an Ombudsman's investigation in the hope of pre-empting and preventing it. Either way, I am distinctly unimpressed.