As a voice for civil liberties in Alberta, the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association (RMCLA) has asked candidates in the upcoming 2019 general election for their views about five important issues that are an important reflection of democratic engagement and genuinely accountable government:
- Children’s privacy rights
- Police ‘carding’ and information sharing
- Government transparency and a ‘duty to document’
- Access to medical services
- Censorship by public bodies
Many Albertans vote for the candidate, not the party, and RMCLA has encouraged candidates to provide fulsome responses, not just party platforms, to these five questions:
Issue 1: — Section 2 of the Canadian Charter confirms the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association, without regard to a person’s age. In addition, the right to privacy provided in Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is not restricted to adults.
QUESTION: What is your position on the right of children to have privacy in respect to participating in social and non-academic activities in school?
Issue 2 — Ontario’s Justice Tulloch recently determined that police “carding” has little to no value as a law enforcement tool. Law enforcement agencies across Alberta carry out the same practice, under other names. As part of the process, police collect personal information about individuals, and retain and disclose the information without persons’ consent and not subject to public review.
QUESTION: What is your position on information collected by police during field checkups (carding) being retained and disclosed?
Issue 3 — Government transparency, accountability and openness (not to be confused or conflated with “open government”) have been the subject of much discussion. Section 27 of Alberta’s Electronic Transactions Act grants authority for government to conduct its affairs orally, leaving no documentary trace. This allows government to accurately respond to an access to information request with: “There are no responsive documents.”
QUESTION: Will you commit to eliminating s.27 of the Electronic Transactions Act and to enacting legislation to create a “duty to document” and, if so, in what timeframe?
Issue 4 — Publicly funded healthcare providers in Alberta sometimes choose, for religious reasons, to refuse to provide certain medical services.
QUESTION: What is your position on the rights of Albertans to access medical services from publicly funded healthcare providers?
Issue 5 — In late 2018, public consultations took place in Calgary about expanding supervised consumption sites where the city and Calgary Police Service (CPS) gave official statements that there was no increase in crime around Calgary’s supervised consumption services facility. After the public meetings were complete, CPS released data summaries completely contradicting their official statements made during the public inquiries. It raised concerns among citizens that a public body had censored information during a public inquiry process to sway public policy on matters important to citizens.
QUESTION: What would you do to ensure that the censorship of information by public bodies across Alberta does not occur, and in what timeframe?
RMCLA will be communicating all candidates’ responses (and lack of responses) to these issues, and encourages Albertans to engage with their candidates to elicit their views.