B.C. privacy report finds no significant Mount Polley risks prior to disaster – by Dirk Meissner (CANADIAN PRESS/Vancouver Sun – July 2, 2015)


VICTORIA – The British Columbia government needs to “open the gates” on information that is in the public interest, says a new report into last summer’s Mount Polley mine disaster.

The report by Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that while the government didn’t violate its legal obligations to report on conditions at the central B.C. mine before the August 2014 tailings-pond breach, it now needs to release more information because of her interpretation of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

She said her office previously interpreted Section 25(1)(b) of the act to permit only the release of information considered to be urgent, but it will now interpret the section to permit the release of information that a reasonable observer would consider in the public’s interest.

“In the past the duties or obligations to disclose information that’s clearly in the public interest was interpreted very narrowly by my predecessors. I think wrongly,” Denham said in a Thursday interview.

“I’ve re-interpreted that so that more information will make its way to the public domain.”

She said people’s right to know should take precedence when it comes to reports from public bodies, including the government.

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