Commentary by Linda Saxon
Recalling last year’s campaign promises of increased accountability and transparency, I submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the town on October 14 for information pertaining to the most recent leaked information about Amherstburg’s fire chief.
On October 26, Tammy Fowkes, Amherstburg Deputy Clerk, returned my request stating, “Unfortunately we cannot process your request until we have received the appropriate documentation. I have included the official form in your return package. I have also enclosed your $5.00 cheque to be returned with the official form.”
According to the access procedure of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56, section 17 states:
“A person seeking access to a record shall,
(a) make a request in writing to the institution that the person believes has custody or control of the record;
(b) provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee of the institution, upon a reasonable effort, to identify the record; and
(c) at the time of making the request, pay the fee prescribed by the regulations for that purpose. 1996, c. 1, Sched. K, s. 14.”
While a request can be made simply in a letter, I submitted an official request form available at the Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario website which the town has very slightly modified and deemed ‘appropriate.’
My past inquiries were met with resistance and insolence and, despite a regime change, it appears that pettiness prevails.