City of Hamilton facing possible investigation by provincial information commissioner

Just when it seems Hamilton City Hall was clear of controversy having quickly settled the City Solicitor’s dust-up with provincial Ombudsman Andre Marin, sources are stating the city has drawn the attention of another transparency watchdog – the Provincial Information and Privacy Commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian.

Sources (who are not authorised to speak publicly) – both in Toronto and Hamilton – state Cavoukian’s office is investigating City Hall for violations of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) – specifically, the city’s destruction of records, violations of FIPPA requesters privacy, and the city’s methods of searching records.

This comes on the heels of the publication by Graham Crawford of his experience with the city’s freedom of information process.

Dr. Cavoukian responded to Crawford’s statement in a letter to the editor of The Spectator published three days later.

“As Ontario’s commissioner responsible for freedom of information (FOI) and access to government records, I was very disturbed at the account given by Graham Crawford in his article”, Cavoukian wrote.

She urged city staff and councillors to visit her website to read “Seven Fundamental Principles of Access by Design”

Soon after, Investigators interviewed Crawford and city staff – including the city’s access & privacy officer – about Crawford’s version of events and the city’s overall handling of MFIPPA.

Their fact-finding mission: determining if the commissioner should launch an investigation independent of any complainant due to the nature of the violations discovered.

All the sources state an expectation that a full investigation will be launched.

If launched, the investigation will look at current city MFIPPA practices, and provide recommendations to improve those practices.