As I reported last week, mayor Peter Kelly has proclaimed September 26-30 Right to Know Week: "Halifax Regional Municipality is dedicated to the principle of open and transparent government and is accountable to the citizens it serves." No doubt the proclamation came at the behest of the Canadian Association of Professional Access and Privacy Administration, and so therefore HRM's public information officer, Nancy Dempsey. Such proclamations are usually routine affairs that no one much pays attention to, but there's a delicious, if perverse, irony that such a proclamation comes from a city official at the centre of a secret $5.4 million concert loan scandal.
In their backgrounder for Right to Know Week, CAPAPA suggests that
if you are a journalist ... write an article about Right to Know Day around the world and/or about local transparency issues ... if you have never filed a request before using any of Canada's national or provincial access to information laws, now is the time to start, and then make a story out of what happens!which is an excellent suggestion. Regular readers know that I've filed lots of freedom of information requests, and so this week I'll write an article each day about some of those experiences, about some of the larger issues involved and try to assess how well the city complies with both the letter and the spirit of freedom of information laws.
Today I'm going to write about the particularly vexing experiences I've had trying to learn more about the failure of the Halifax sewage plant on January, 14, 2009.