Saskatoon

Province orders inspection of Pinehouse after obstruction accusation by privacy commissioner

The Ministry of Government Relations has ordered officials to look into the Northern Village of Pinehouse, which has been accused of obstructing the provincial privacy commissioner's office.

Commissioner says village delayed or ignored requests for years

Pinehouse is approximately 375 kilometres north of Saskatoon, Sask. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

The Ministry of Government Relations has ordered officials to look into the Northern Village of Pinehouse, which has been accused of obstructing the provincial privacy commissioner's office.

Information and Privacy Commissioner Ron Kruzeniski made the obstruction accusation last month and said he wanted a formal investigation of the village.

In a report, Kruzeniski said the village had either delayed or ignored requests from his office for years.

The Ministry of Government Relations announced Monday it will start an overview of the village's general operations and business activities, perform a summary of the village's financial situation and study the village's policies around freedom of information.

"We have expectations with all of our municipalities that when they've been asked by our courts, judicial systems, by the processes that are in place to respond in an appropriate manner and unfortunately that wasn't happening here," said Minister Warren Kaeding in ordering the independent inspection.

The inspection will be led by Neil Robertson, a lawyer with decades of experience in municipal law.

A final report will be delivered to the village council and the Minister of Government Relations in March 2019.

Kaeding said that while the primary focus of the investigation will be on the village not responding to freedom of information requests, it may also look at wages given to the mayor and council.

"Remuneration of the mayor and council would be certainly something we'd want to take a look at, especially with the dollar values that were certainly indicated," Kaeding said.

Many of the Freedom of Information requests were filed by D'arcy Hande, a writer who was initially investigating possible connections between the village council and the Nuclear Waste Management Association.

On top of asking for an investigation, the privacy commissioner recommended Pinehouse create a policy on handling requests in a timely manner.

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