Case Report – Federal Court of Appeal confirms ministerial offices beyond the scope of ATIA requests

In an oral judgement issue on May 27th, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the Information Commissioner of Canada’s appeal of Justice Kelen’s June 2008 finding that the Prime Minister’s Office and other ministerial offices are not “institutions” whose records are subject to the Access to Information Act.

Justice Kelen had also found that some information in former Prime Minister Chretien’s agenda book in the control of the Privy Council Office and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was not exempt from public access as his personal information. On May 29th, the Federal Court of Appeal allowed an RCMP appeal of this finding. The Court of Appeal held the Prime Minister is not an officer of the Privy Council Office whose job-related information excluded from the definition of personal information by section 3(j) of the ATIA.

Both of the Court of Appeal judgements turn on a finding that the ATIA was drafted on the basis of a well understood convention that the Prime Minister’s Office is separate from the Privy Council Office and the offices of Minsters are seaprate from the departmetns over which ministers preside.

My detailed summary of Justice Kelen’s judgement is here.

Canada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Minister of National Defence), 2009 FCA 175.

Canada (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) v. Canada (Information Commissioner), 2009 FCA 181.

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