A Call from the OIPCBC

Ron Bolin: Nov. 18, 2015

In response to my response (sic) to the OIPCBC last week (see the post just prior to this one), I got a call from their office yesterday dealing with the oversight of all involved in the adjudication process of my request for the authority by which the City of Nanaimo redacted a segment of the public video record of a Council meeting in which then Councillor McKay read into the record a notice of motion regarding a possible investigation into the Leadercast affair. I have written extensively about this event and my dealings with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commission of BC elsewhere on this blog. For those interested, these posts can be found by a simple search for “Leadercast “ or “OIPCBC” in this blog.

The essence of our conversation yesterday dealt with the technicalities of the OIPCBC legislation and what could or could not be done by that office. The gist of the matter seems to be that my original request was for an action which is not within the purview of the Commission to take, i.e. to require the City of Nanaimo to restore the redacted segment to the video record online at the City’s web site, i.e. to mend the record. It seems that in such a case, the best that I could ask for from the Commission is that I receive a copy of the redacted record, following which I could use that record as I saw fit at my own expense, but that the OIPCBC had no authority to require of the City that they replace the redacted segment in the record. That is to say that that office did have the authority to demand that the missing record be released to me, but not, as requested, the authority to demand that the City make the record whole by reintroducing the redacted segment into the public record. Thus, because the OIPCBC did not have the authority to fulfill my request, the entire matter was void, though I am free to re-apply by explicitly asking that the redacted record be released to me personally, should my request be found to have a valid foundation.

The previous paragraphs were sent to the OIPCBC for clarification of my interpretation.

The following was received from the OIPCBC this afternoon Nov. 20, 2015.

Hi Mr. Bolin,

Yes, I’d say you have it right.

Cindy Hamilton

Accordingly I will probably again ask the City to restore the redacted video segment to the record or at least to provide a copy of that video segment to me. Since this situation arose a year and a half has passed, a new Council has been elected, and we have a new management team at City Hall. If I choose to do so, I believe that the entire process will have to be undertaken again right from the point of making the request to the City. Should the City maintain the position it has taken in this matter to this time, they will refuse and the whole 18 month Merry-go-round will start over again.

This is not a matter of great urgent consequence, though the City has subsequently redacted another brief segment from the video record of another Council meeting. The text of the missing segment was published in this blog long ago thanks to a copy of the notice of motion received by email from then Councillor, now Mayor, McKay. But the principle of the City’s right to redact public records remains open. The present notice of motion involved may be relatively trivial, but the consequences of silently permitting public records to be redacted are very significant. Can we afford to let the matter serve as an unchallenged precedent? Should the lasting record of what happened at an open Council meeting seen by those in the chamber, be forever blank to those who were not present? I ask for your opinion.

I will also be requesting a statement of the City’s costs in fighting this apparent non-event. While only my time was invested, the City and their lawyers seem also to have misinterpreted the legislation and spent considerable time and money in response.