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Want to know about the Thistle? You're not allowed!

This is part of the Vancouver Media Coop Access to Information Project

As part of the project, I requested all information about the V2010ISU-JIG’s activities at the Purple Thistle Centre. As most readers to VMC know, but most readers to my blog probably don’t, the Purple Thistle is a youth-run community centre for arts and activism and acts as a Free School. Like Spartacus Books, it is a well known centre for radical organising in the community.

Since we know based on the files we got back for myself, as well as Dawn’s files, that Spartacus Books was under heavy surveillance, it makes sense that the Thistle would be under surveillance as well. I tried to request the files from the RCMP, and Normand Sirois sent this back to me two hours ago. (WTF? ATIP works on Sunday?

This is in response to your request under the Access to Information Act received on August 29, 2011, seeking a copy of all information gathered by the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit - Joint Intelligence Group on the Purple Thistle Centre throughout the existence of the V2010ISU-JIG.

Please be advised that a review of the records reveals that all of the information you have requested qualifies for exemption under sections 16(1)and 19(1) of the Act.</em>

OK, let’s see what 16(1) and 19(1) is in the act</a>:

16.1 (1) The following heads of government institutions shall refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains information that was obtained or created by them or on their behalf in the course of an investigation, examination or audit conducted by them or under their authority:

(a) the Auditor General of Canada;

(b) the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada;

(c) the Information Commissioner; and

(d) the Privacy Commissioner.

Exception

(2) However, the head of a government institution referred to in paragraph (1)(c) or (d) shall not refuse under subsection (1) to disclose any record that contains information that was created by or on behalf of the head of the government institution in the course of an investigation or audit conducted by or under the authority of the head of the government institution once the investigation or audit and all related proceedings, if any, are finally concluded.</em>

I don’t understand this exemption. Does this mean that the Information Commissioner or the Privacy Commissioner denied this? This doesn’t make any sense. Now, 19.1 is far more clear</a>:

19. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the head of a government institution shall refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains personal information as defined in section 3 of the Privacy Act.</em>

So, where does that leave us?

First, I’m going to get more details on the 16(1) exemption, since it seems weird that the Auditor General of Canada, the Information Commissioner or the Privacy Commissioner would stop the request unless there was too much personal data. I’ll start with Normand, and I’ll see what I can get out of him.

Secondly, I think it’s time to bring this to the attention of the thistle to get them to get their documents, since it is clear to me that the Purple Thistle was targeted, just like Spartacus Books.