Concerns about political interference have prompted Alberta’s privacy commissioner to investigate how the provincial government handles access to information requests.
“I have been reviewing the recent media coverage and discussions at the Legislature alleging political interference in the processing of access requests,” Jill Clayton said in a news release sent Friday afternoon.
“After careful consideration, I have decided to initiate an investigation on my own motion.”
Clayton says her probe will also include a look at how long the government takes to respond to access requests -- there has been an 89 per cent jump in the number of time extension requests in the past year.
“The recent allegations raise questions about the reasons for the time extension requests,” she said.
Clayton has received complaints from both the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Alberta NDP about apparent delays in the release of records.
Clayton says there have also been questions about whether a media or opposition party request plays a role in how long it takes for documents to get released.
A report will be released to the public at the end of the investigation
Last month, the Wildrose party released a leaked email which showed then-deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk asking press secretaries to review and forward him information about active freedom of information requests.
Lukaszuk, who is now running for the PC leadership, said that he welcomes Clayton’s investigation even though he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.
“I'm fairly confident that personally I have not interfered in any release of information but if she finds that anyone has, in our government, then we have to take that under advisement.”
In a written statement, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said she was looking forward to reading Clayton’s report on the matter.