Posted July 23, 2013
The tragic death of Constable Jennifer Kovach last March still reverberates with many citizens.
This week, a request filed by the Guelph Mercury, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) for an accident report from Guelph Transit, was denied by the city. The report, it is assumed, contains details from the driver of the bus who is a witness. The bus was hit head-on by the police car driven by Constable Kovach.
City Clerk, Blair Labelle, cited parts of the FOI and the Protection of Privacy Act in which requested information may be denied. The Clerk cited three passages from the two Acts in his refusal to release the requested accident reports.
One -The city may refuse to disclose a record on the grounds it could interfere with ongoing investigations.
Two – He said the Act allows material to be withheld where “it could be considered an unjustified invasion of personal privacy”.
Three – If a solicitor/client relationship existed and provided privileged information.
The first of these is valid. Releasing part of the details from one perspective can influence the entire investigation. Chief Brian Larkin has stated that the police investigation will be released by the end of this month. So, what possible excuse could the city have to deny the Transit report following that release?
The second reason sits on rocky ground. Who decided that releasing this Transit report could be considered an unjustified invasion of personal privacy?
The third reason is laughable. There is no evidence that a lawyer/client relationship exists.
This is the old story of the best defense is an offense. The lawyers in the Carden Street Kremlin must have worked overtime crafting this explanation of the city clerk’s refusal to reveal the reports.
It’s not an attempt to cover-up, it’s an attempt to preempt any unseen litigation that may be launched against the city.
The investigations of this tragedy must be revealed to the public. It is their right to know.
That’s something that is regularly ignored by this city administration.