DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: My FOI Request for the Brendel Farms IRAC Report
This past Wednesday, Andy Walker had an article in the Island Farmer with a somewhat discouraging headline:
That “one request” that’s already in the works is mine.
I filed my request on January 25, 2021, immediately after the Information Commissioner, Ms. Denise Doiron, indicated that would be the only way to obtain the report while ensuring the protection of private information. I received an acknowledgement of my request, with the following information in a letter dated February 11, 2021:
I knew I’d be going down a rabbit hole for the actual IRAC report. Section 28 of the FOIPP Act provides an opportunity for third parties to object to disclosure of information they deem to be private. I knew that my first response from APSO would only inform me that third parties would be contacted to be given an opportunity to either consent to the disclosure or object. Third parties have 20 days to get back to APSO to indicate their intentions. If APSO doesn’t hear anything, they proceed with processing the FOI request.
I’ve only ever had one FOIP request intercepted by a third party review (Chris LeClair) which is a pretty amazing story all by itself I’ll be telling soon, when the Information Commissioner releases her Order on that Review which should be within weeks based on the last information I received on that file.
Notwithstanding the rarity of “third parties” objecting to the release of documents, I fully expect Rebecca Irving [owner of Red fox Acres and Haslemere Farms Inc.], the Gardiners [owners of Brendel Farms Inc.], or some other party mentioned in the report to object to the release of information with this FOI request. That will extend the Report release date to me by months if not years, and like Andy Walker notes, the pages will probably look a bit like this.
Yep, I’m going down an incredibly long rabbit hole in search of the IRAC report, and I knew that would be the case, so I asked for more than simply the report.
I wanted something to look forward to receiving that couldn’t be objected to by the Irvings or other third parties…stuff that may very well be more revealing that the actual report, which everyone involved in putting together knew would be examined by others. I’m thinking when some of the correspondence was written though – especially by Bloyce, which may be just as revealing as the report – the idea that those documents might go public in a blog article likely didn’t cross anyone’s mind at the time:
The Brendel Farm purchase scandal circumventing the Lands Protection Act has been a live issue since well before the last election. With that in mind, I asked for all correspondence between Thompson and IRAC on this file since the time he was elected.
I will be hearing back from APSO by March 12, 2021. I’ll let you know if my hunch about third party interventions was correct.