'Premier's library' proposal can stay secret, Sask. info. commissioner says

The Saskatchewan government has a 15-page proposal to create a "premier's library", but doesn't have to make the document public, the province's information commissioner says.

Proposal was part of budget process but never approved, premier's office says

The government says it won't release a 15-page proposal for a "premier's library" because it would violate cabinet confidentiality. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Saskatchewan government has a 15-page proposal to create a "premier's library", but doesn't have to make the document public, the province's information commissioner says.

According to Privacy and Information Commissioner Ron Kruzenski, someone filed a freedom of information request, hoping to get a report about the "premier's library" but the Ministry of Central Services said no.

The government's argument was that the freedom of information law didn't apply because the document would disclose a confidence of cabinet.

The rejected applicant appealed to the information commissioner's office, but Kruzeniski, in a recently published decision, says he agrees with the government 

"I recommend that Central Services continue to withhold the report pursuant to subsection 16 (1) (a) of [the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act]," he said in his Feb. 6 decision.

As is standard procedure, Kruzeniski's report doesn't say who applied for the information, but a spokesperson for the New Democrats told CBC News it was them.

Kathy Young, an official with the premier's office confirmed Thursday a premier's library was part of central service's budget submission in 2013-14 — although ultimately it did not get money.

However, the New Democrat caucus says it has a different understanding.

"Premier's library" — which would include material about all Saskatchewan premiers — was an early name for what would later be known as a "museum of democracy", the NDP says.

That project was also dubbed a "politics museum" by the NDP, which last year was highly critical of the idea.

In October, the NDP released a document that said a government adviser has been given a job to "conceptualize and develop a proposal for the development of the Saskatchewan Museum of Democracy to be housed in [Regina's] Territorial Building."

The government said it was only a proposal and if it ever came to pass, it might be only a "virtual" museum that would be accessed online.


What's a premier's library, anyway? 

Here's an official summary of the proposal, provided by Kathy Young, a spokeswoman for the premier's office:

  • The proposed Premier’s library of Saskatchewan would be a permanent collection of books, periodicals, government publications, newspapers, architectural drawings and plans, manuscripts, archival records, maps, rare books, together with prints and photographs, and fine art that is associated with the Premiers of Saskatchewan since the inception of the Province.
  • The Premier’s Library would be a Saskatchewan public research institution, providing elected officials, government employees, researchers, and members of the general public with unparalleled access to documents that helped shape the province.

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