In a unanimous ruling in John Doe v. Ontario (Finance), the
Supreme Court of Canada found that the "advice or
recommendations" exemption in Ontario's Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) should be
broadly interpreted. The Supreme Court's ruling will limit the
circumstances in which requesters will be able to access government
This case concerned records which were sought under FIPPA by an
anonymous requester. The records, which related to the provincial
government's decision to amend Ontario's corporate tax law
retroactively, were created by public servants in the Ministry of
FIPPA provides a broad right of access to government
information. FIPPA also provides for certain limited and specific
exemptions to that broad right of access. These include a
discretionary exemption relating to records that "would reveal
advice or recommendations of a public servant." The Minister
of Finance refused to disclose the records at issue on the basis
that they fell within that exemption.
The provincial Information and Privacy Commissioner disagreed.
She found the records did not disclose "advice or
recommendations" because they were not in final form, did not
contain a suggested course of action, were not communicated to the
decision-maker, and were not used in the minister's
deliberative process. Thus, she ordered the minister to release the
records, an order which was appealed up to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court sided with the minister, holding that the
"advice or recommendations" exemption applied to the
records at issue. As a result, the minister was permitted to
exercise his discretion to shield the records from disclosure, as
he did. The Supreme Court found that any record which reveals the
"opinions of a public servant as to [a] range of alternative
policy options" falls within the definition of
"advice," which distinguishes "advice" from
"recommendations." It also found that records could be
protected as "advice" even if they were never
communicated to the minister or never intended to be communicated
to the minister.
This is a broad interpretation of "advice or
recommendations," creating a wide range of circumstances in
which ministerial discretion might be invoked to shield documents
Ryder and Nickolas were counsel for the intervener Canadian
Civil Liberties Association in this case.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Please join members of the Blakes Commercial Real Estate group as they discuss five key provisions of a commercial real estate purchase agreement that are often the subject of much negotiation but are sometimes misunderstood.
Emotional culture is influenced in great part by the mindset and actions of leadership, although employees also play more of a role than they may realize in creating the culture that exists in the group.
The session will be led by Dr. Robert Brooks, an award-winning author and psychologist. In his presentation, Dr. Brooks will describe the mindset and realistic practices of leaders and staff that help to nurture and sustain a culture characterized by positive emotions, satisfying, respectful relationships, a sense of meaning and ownership for one’s work, and enhanced job performance. Examples will be offered to illustrate strategies for developing a positive emotional culture in an organization.
Join leading lawyers from the Blakes Pensions, Benefits & Executive Compensation group as they discuss recent updates and legal developments in pension and employee benefits law as well as strategies to identify and minimize common risks.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).