Ontario’s BLIND watchdog. (chien de garde Aveugle)

SUMMARY:  The Township of South Glengarry admits 29 Ontario laws deal with public records, but then uses MFIPPA to deny access to those public records. The Ontario Ombudsman sees nothing wrong. Some watchdog!

My Response to Mr Jonathan Zameret’s early resolution letter. His reply (if any) will be published.

Respectfully, I disagree with your mandate decision and investigation conclusions, as:

  • I believe you have failed to consider the issues or information I told you about,
  • I have reason to think your decision is unfair or unreasonable
  • based on Ontario High Court ruling on common sense, good will and the law
Mr Jonathan Zameret  wrote: “you complained regarding the practice of the Township in directing all of your information requests” to MFIPPA and “… it has been determined that you have chosen the MFIPPA process”
I did not chose it – the Township directed – your own words!
Your decision is also blind to the other processes – especially my complaint to your office,and you seem to be blind to your own mandate.
Mr Jonathan Zameret  wrote:  “MFIPPA denials can only be heard by the IPC.”
Obviously, my complaint was not an MFIPPA appeal. My complaint is over public records which the common law treats as presumptively accessible to the public. MFIPPA co-exists with public record laws.
Your “decision” is also blind to goodwill, common sense and the law. The leading case on this question: The Divisional Court, Ontario (Children’s Lawyer) v. Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2003 CanLII 72347 (ON SCDC) stated:

[125] We wish to make it clear that it puzzles, and very much concerns, the court that the request of Jane Doe for her legal file was diverted to the FIPPA stream for handling at all. It was surely a straightforward request by a client, now of age, for information as to her own case from her own lawyers. That kind of request is common in the practice of law and is governed, if not by the common sense and goodwill of the parties, then by the Solicitors Act and the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Society. There seems to be no necessity to resort to FIPPA in such a case. Indeed, the reasons set out above illustrate that FIPPA is not designed to deal with such a request.

[126] In a recent case [Note 26], where CTV sought an order requiring the Toronto Police Service to permit it to copy court records in a criminal case, the Court of Appeal said, at paras. 28-29:

Finally, the Toronto Police Service argues that the existence of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56precludes the court from exercising its common law jurisdiction to order access to court records. The respondent says that this legislation permits the appellant to apply for access to the exhibits it seeks and sets up criteria for evaluating such a request.

In my view, the simple answer to this argument is that the regime set up under this legislation has an entirely different purpose. It is designed to regulate access to private information which, but for the regime, would not otherwise be available to the public. By contrast, the jurisdiction which the appellant seeks to engage is over court records which the common law treats as presumptively accessible to the public.There is nothing in the legislation that suggests either explicitly or by necessary implication that the court’s jurisdiction at common law is being curtailed or removed. This is hardly surprising since the legislation is designed for such a different purpose. The regime it establishes is simply one which co-exists with the court’s jurisdiction. It does not replace it.

It is plain and obvious that the OMBUDSMAN’s mandate is in ADDITION to other rights of Ontario Citizens. It does not replace it. 
I ask that you reconsider.
In the meantime, in the public interest, I have published your decision, and will also publish any reconsideration.