First Nations gov't should be subject to privacy rules: report

A new report from the N.W.T. privacy commissioner recommends First Nations governments be subject to the same access-to-information rules as territorial and federal governments.

N.W.T. Privacy Commissioner's report says accountablity is important for all forms of government

The Northwest Territories' information and privacy commissioner says First Nations governments need to be held more accountable. 

Elaine Keenan Bengts presented her annual report at the Legislative Assembly on Friday.

The report recommends that First Nations governments be subject to the same privacy and access-to-information rules as the territorial and federal governments.

Keenan Bengts says access-to-information laws help keep governments honest and First Nations governments are no different. 

"As governments, they have control of the public purse, of the public interest. They're elected officials, just like our government and they should be responsible to their electorate." 

The recommendation, one of many included in the report, came out of a request for a copy of the Barren Ground Caribou Harvesting Interim Agreement between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

YDFN objected strongly to disclosure of any part of the agreement, worried it would create controversy in the community.

ENR also refused to disclose the document. The department was worried that disclosing the agreement would damage the relationship between ENR and YDFN.

Keenan Bengts says as long as First Nations governments are a democratic government within Canada, they will most likely have to provide access to their records in the future. 

However she acknowledges it’s not something the Northwest Territories government has control over.


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