There is uproar in the western province of Alberta over the mass shredding of documents by the out-going government. The Premier-elect Rachel Notley has ordered an immediate halt to the shredding, but the opposition Wildrose Party says she didn’t do it soon enough.
Before being thrown out of office, the Progressive Conservative Party had been in power for 44 years. Opposition Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean told Canadian Press there is concern that documentation of Conservative malfeasance has been destroyed.
Law protects access to documents
Alberta has a Freedom of Information and Privacy Act that protects some documents and provides public access to them. It allows the destruction of personal records of cabinet minister or the correspondence between elected representatives and their constituents. But departmental records and cabinet records must be preserved.
The premier-elect ordered a stop to the shredding after an unprecedented news conference was held by Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner and its Public Interest Commissioner. The privacy commissioner’s office had received letters of concern about the destruction of documents immediately after the May 5th election in that province.
Tip focuses on environment department
An anonymous source alleged improper shredding by the Environment and Sustainable Resource Development department. This is a department which is responsible for ensuring that the province’s huge oilsands and other resource projects are carried out in an environmentally safe way. It’s a subject of profound contention in Canada.
The two watchdogs can impose fines of between $10,000 and $100,000 if documents have been illegally destroyed.