Update on Rights and Democracy Access-to-Information Request - Macleans.ca
 

Update on Rights and Democracy Access-to-Information Request


 

Last November, I made an access-to-information request to the Privy Council Office asking to see a performance evaluation report on the now deceased former president of Rights and Democracy, Remy Beauregard.

The PCO initially said no such report could be found in its records. Then, when David Matas, a Rights and Democracy board member, confirmed the report’s existence on national television and said it had been released to the PCO, Ann Wesch, director of access to information and privacy at the PCO, told me my request had not been “tasked out properly.”

That was in February. More delays followed, but this morning I received the PCO’s response:

“We have now completed the processing of your request and it has been determined that the information you requested may not be disclosed. The information has been withheld pursuant to subsection 19 (1) (personal information) of the Act.”


 

Update on Rights and Democracy Access-to-Information Request

  1. Too bad. Really.
    Could his widow see (and release) the document if she wished?

  2. Frankly, this makes sense. It's personal information and therefore it should not be publicly available. I'm sure the rest of the public service would agree that they don't want their own performance evaluations available to anyone.

    • Of course, the troubling thing is that this is also basically the same response that Remy Beauregard initially received when HE tried to access the performance evaluation of Remy Beauregard.

      Well, that, and the fact that it took the government 6 months to tell a journalist that they couldn't show him a performance appraisal that he had requested to see, because it is a performance appraisal.

      Well, those two things and the fact that the government first tried to tell said journalist that the report didn't exist, and only got called on that when an official made the mistake of admitting that it existed on national T.V.

      Other than that though, I guess this all makes sense.

      • Well, the answer makes sense. The fact that it took 7 months for this simple answer, that makes no sense.

        As for Remy accessing his own perf evaluation, that is sadly the same way it works in any workplace. Your boss has no obligation to tell you about his evaluation of your performance.

        • As for Remy accessing his own perf evaluation, that is sadly the same way it works in any workplace. Your boss has no obligation to tell you about his evaluation of your performance.

          Actually, my boss is EXPLICITLY required to show me her evaluation of my performance. Every year. By a specific date. It's different in other workplaces? How do people know how they're doing, or how to improve their performance, if their bosses are not required to tell them how they've been judged? How could people cope knowing that while they may think their doing a swell job, secretly, in the background, they may be getting negative performance appraisal after negative performance appraisal? How could you get away with firing someone for poor performance without any obligation to ever tell them that they're performing poorly?

          If my boss submitted a performance appraisal of me to her boss without me ever knowing what's in it, that would be trouble for her. Heck, just her showing it too me later than she's supposed to show it to me would be trouble (though I personally wouldn't raise a stink over that, so that wouldn't really be trouble). I'm not only required to sign the appraisal to show that I've seen it, but there's a place right on the form for me to make comments, in case I want to add anything, or disagree with anything she's said about my work.

          Is everybody else just being assessed by their bosses with no idea what those assessment consist of?

          • Whether or not your boss gives you a performance evaluation is up to him (or your company rules). But he's certainly not obligated to do so. The only time he's required to give you an evaluation is when he fires you, so that you can't sure for wrongful dismissal.
            Your bosses can talk about you all day long, and they are under no obligation to inform you about it. In fact, in most companies, especially the politically correct ones, they avoid informing you; everybody says nice things about everyone else whether they mean it or not – the reality is not revealed to anyone until the hammer comes down.

          • Your bosses can talk about you all day long, and they are under no obligation to inform you about it. In fact, in most companies, especially the politically correct ones, they avoid informing you; everybody says nice things about everyone else whether they mean it or not – the reality is not revealed to anyone until the hammer comes down.

            I think you're grossly misinformed about labour law in Canada. Your boss can't smile to your face, act like everything's fine (CERTAINLY not say nice things about your work to you), and then tell you on the morning they fire you of all the things you've been doing wrong for the past 2 years. Certainly not without facing, and likely losing, a lawsuit. I'll see if I can find time to dig up some specific cases this afternoon, but I know I've read about cases where employees were doing some OUTRAGEOUS things while on the job, got fired for cause, and then won wrongful termination suits when it was discovered that the company knew for some time that said employee was doing said outrageous things but that their bosses never warned them to stop, or mentioned that it was a problem, until the morning of the firing. As the first site I found when I googled "wrongful dismissal in Canada" says "For most of the above cases, an employer would not be able to prove just cause if, by action or inaction, it condoned or forgave the conduct".

            If your boss is submitting negative performance evaluations about you, but isn't telling you about the issues with your performance, that inaction is tantamount to condoning your performance issues, and a judge is going to rule in your favour in the lawsuit when it comes out that your boss kept your performance issues a closely guarded secret from you until the morning they fired you, even if your performance issues are ones that would normally OBVIOUSLY be just cause for dismissal.

          • I think you're conflating two separate things: whether a company is obligated to inform you of every evaluation they've done of you, and whether a company must inform you of bad performance prior to firing you (in a timely manner, not just the day before).

            The two things are completely different things. In fact, Beauregard was never fired, in this particular example.

          • We've definitely gone past the Beauregard example, that's true, as he was never fired. My point is more that HAD he been fired, he would have won the subsequent wrongful dismissal law suit pretty easily, even if his performance evaluation was riddled with just cause.

            I am glad you seem to have revised your assertion that "the only time [your boss is] required to give you an evaluation is when he fires you, so that you can't sue for wrongful dismissal" given that if your boss only gives you a negative evaluation when he fires you, that's actually a REASON to sue for wrongful dismissal.

            I suppose it's possible that an employer is not required to show his or her employee every single one of their performance evaluations (and if so, thank GOD I work where I do, cause you could never get away with submitting performance evaluations of an employee around here without showing the employee!) but I do think it's important to point out that an employer who fights tooth and nail to keep an employee from seeing their own performance evaluation is going to lose a tidy little lawsuit if they ever decide to terminate that employee, even for cause.

            From another site that came up in a quick Google search: "In a general sense, employers must show that you have been spoken to about the behaviour that has led to the termination on previous occasions, that you were given an opportunity to correct the behaviour and that you were warned that if you did not correct the behaviour your employment would be terminated. If an employer alleges they had cause for the dismissal, the burden is on them to prove that there was just cause."

            Not being a lawyer, I leave open the possibility that it wasn't actually "illegal" to hide Beauregard's performance evaluation from him, just incredibly stupid.

          • Not being a lawyer, I leave open the possibility that it wasn't actually "illegal" to hide Beauregard's performance evaluation from him, just incredibly stupid.

            Yes. Of course, what you call "stupid", others would call "business". It's dog-eat-dog out there in the rat race.

          • It is a dog eat dog world, which is why it's best not to give other dogs an excellent case to sue you if you ever want to fire them. One can call "setting yourself up for a future lawsuit" "business", but I'd still maintain that that's a stupid way to run a business.

        • Oh, I do agree that the answer makes sense though.

    • Frankly, I call BS on that one. Without a moments hesitation I could name a dozen people who have been excoriated by the Conservatives and the press that serves them with release of highly private, highly personal info. Try selling your fallacious notion to Freedom of Speech advocates; this is no everyday occurrence. This is not only N.E.W.S, this matter involves abuse of postion to the highest levels in this country.

      • In that case, kindly post your last job performance evaluation as a reply to this comment. Perhaps you could add your school transcripts as well. Also, post your criminal record and tax returns. And your credit rating. Also, do the same for your family members. Consider this an access-to-information request. Thanks.

        • Your request is important to me. Please stand by. The information you're requesting will be available in 6-8 months.

          • The information you're requesting will be available in 6-8 months.

            Actually, no it won't.

            In 6-8 months s_c_f will be receiving a reply that the information he requested will not be made available because it's the information he requested (i.e., we can't show you the performance appraisal, because it's a performance appraisal).

          • It has come to our attention that you have made a request for a document pertaining to criminal records. We have reviewed your request as it pertains to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and as it does not meet the standards set out in s.42.1, nor does it meet the standards set out in the Police Services Act, s.41.2., we are hereby denying your request. You may appeal this decision to the Commissioner (FIPPA, s.50.1)

          • I'm taking this all the way to the Supreme Court.

          • You have chosen Department of Fisheries. If this is correct, please press one now.

          • In that case, I'd like to know your lobster quota and whether that was you dancing with the cod in the streets of St. John's last Saturday at midnight.

  3. Not surprising. Exactly as I argued 11 weeks ago:

    Having used ATI requests at the provincial level, it would not surprise me if this particular record was classified as a personal record of Mr. Beauregaurd. If so, it would have been releasable to him, but not necessarily anyone else without his consent. Since he is deceased, one presumes that control would then pass to his next of kin, presumably his wife.

    Since she has indicated in the press her desire to ensure his latest review was removed forever from the PCO or the record corrected (I hope I am paraphrasing correctly) I doubt it will ever be released publicly without her consent, or without she herself releasing it. I also presume she has his copy.
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/03/29/access-to-info

    • Of course, as I replied back in March, I don't see why the government couldn't have figured that out and told that to Petrou back in 2009. Now that it's June, 2010, I CERTAINLY don't see why it took the government ANOTHER 3 months to give Petrou the answer that you had figured out in March.

      Maybe the PCO is just three months behind in reading the Macleans blog comments.

      • Normal everyday FOI requests -DEFCON 5. Reporter request – DEFCON 4. Controversial info – DEFCON 3. The guy dies – DEFCON 2. Same magazine writes national story, blogs, appears on The Agenda, Power & Politics, tweets etc etc DECFON 1.

        Plus, if you look at Giorno's C.V. , as a lawyer, I believe he provided advice on FOI requests to clients (probably how to frustrate/obfuscate requests).

        If people making the requests better understood the act, perhaps workloads would be reduced- and turnaround time improved. Doubtful, but maybe.

        • I'm willing to cut a department some slack on deadlines for FOI requests as I know they're not always simple, and many departments get a lot, so I wouldn't complain too much about a request taking longer than the legally required time. However, they're supposed to be completed within 30 days.

          I'd generously accept a request taking twice the legally required time , but there's simply no excuse for an FOI request to take 7 times as long to fulfill as the statute requires. Unfortunately, it would appear there might also be no consequences to a Department or it's employees for simply ignoring the provisions of this particular statute.

          • When it's a personal record of a third party, add 30 days min. for the dept to consult with said individual – plus more if there is toing and froing. So, cut your multipliers accordingly.

  4. You have to admire the work they put into finding a reason to deny the request.

    • In that case, kindly post your last job performance evaluation as a reply to this comment. Perhaps you could add your school transcripts as well. Also, post your criminal record and tax returns. And your credit rating. Also, do the same for your family members. Consider this an access-to-information request. Thanks.

      • Hey, I get your point, but if they don't want to be accused of working extra hard to find an excuse to deny the request, then they shouldn't have taken 7 extra months to get to "We can't show you the performance appraisal because it's a performance appraisal".

      • Oh, and they also shouldn't have initially claimed that the document didn't exist (or, alternatively, having let that lie slip they should have STUCK WITH IT!!!)

  5. “Personal information” of personnel reviews certainly didn’t seem to hold them back when they were releasing tidbits of information here and there painting a negative picture of Beauregard when it served their purpose.

    • That was TOTALLY different.

      Those were the tidbits the government WANTED people to know about.

  6. Btw, had you ever considered that perhaps knowing that a member of the media had requested through FOI for his personal performance review, and that it may ultimately become public, added to Beauregard's stress level and led to more intensified confrontations within R&D? I haven't seen Wells address this in any of his screeds.

    • So then, Macleans, in the kitchen, with the FOI request?

      • Go back and read Wells. From the murky start. With full knowledge.

    • Petrou killed him? That's new.

      • Fits with your logic, not mine.

      • I don't know. Based on the reply to me above ("Go back and read Wells. From the murky start. With full knowledge.") I thought that Dot was saying that YOU killed him.

        • Say, do you know if the National Magazine Awards have the equivalent to the Razzies?