On December 6th, the Court of Appeal for Alberta held that a record supplied by a local police service to another local police service is amenable to withholding under the intergovernmental relations exemption in the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The document at issue was a threat assessment report supplied by the RCMP to the Edmonton Police Service. The RCMP was acting under contract to provide local police services, which led the Alberta OIPC to find that it was an agency of the province. The OIPC relied on the heading “disclosure harmful to intergovernmental relations” and held that information supplied to a public body by an entity within Alberta could not qualify for exemption.
The Court held that the OIPC erred in its narrow interpretation of the exemption and by finding that the RCMP was an agency of the province. In the circumstances, the RCMP was to be treated as any other police service – a “local government body” – and one who could benefit from the exemption in disclosing information to another local public body. The OIPC put too much weight on the “intergovernmental relations” heading, it said, and ignored the plain wording of the Act.