U of O Watch mission, in the words of Foucault...

"One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." -- Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

U of O Watch mission, in the words of Socrates...

"An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all." -- Socrates

video of president allan rock at work

Saturday, June 18, 2011

U of O disregards access to information law, refuses to provide undisclosed records to Ontario adjudicator

On April 21, 2008, then physics professor Denis Rancourt made an access to information (ATI) request to the University of Ottawa for "all records about me in the university president's office since November 30, 2006."

The university's first reaction was to refuse to respond as required by law -- the Freedom of Information and protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) of Ontario. The university had to be ordered by an Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) Adjudicator to follow the law. See IPC Order PO-2698 dated July 22, 2008. The IPC is the judiciary body that administers and enforces the FIPPA.

The university's ordered response was then appealed to the IPC by Rancourt as being incomplete.

Mostly due to IPC-imposed administrative delays, the required-by-law mediation step of the 2008 appeal (IPC Appeal No. PA08-159-2) was only completed on May 26, 2011.

The factual IPC Mediator's Report (HERE) states that the university has now refused to provide 56 undisclosed records (documents about Rancourt in the president's office) to the IPC Adjudicator for the appeal hearings.

This is a violation of the FIPPA. The rules of procedure for IPC adjudications of appeals require the institution (university) at mediation to provide all records not disclosed to the appellant (Rancourt) to the IPC for mediation and adjudication. The university has simply refused to do so (LINK):

"The mediator advised the University that only some of the records listed in the undisclosed index of records were provided to the IPC. Specifically, records 217 to 272 were not provided to the IPC."

Furthermore, the university states that it has lost its indexed records (undisclosed records) that it refuses to provide to the IPC:

"The University confirmed that it does not have a copy of records 217 to 272."

How can the University of Ottawa justify such disregard for legal procedures, disregard for fair access to personal information, and disregard for accountability and transparency?

The University's less-than-exemplary institutional behaviour regarding ATI and the FIPPA was also recently reported HERE.

1 comment:

Ian Bron said...

This is an interesting test of the Commissioner's willingness to enforce the law. Section 61 of the Act sets a penalty of up to $5000 for violating the Act. I would argue that the individuals responsible should actually be fined for each separate refusal to disclose - that is, each page.