The Ministry of the Solicitor General (now the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services) (the Ministry) received a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) for access to information pertaining to a motor vehicle accident. More specifically, the requester (who was represented by counsel) asked for:
Copies of any statements made as well as photographs and measurements that were taken of the vehicles and or the scene of the accident.
The Ministry identified three records that were responsive to the request and denied access to these documents in full pursuant to sections 14(1)(a) and (f), and 21(1) of the Act. The Ministry informed the requester that no photographs had been taken of the accident site and that, other than the information contained in the three records, no other measurements were available. The requester appealed the denial of access.
Further mediation was not successful and notice that an inquiry was being conducted to review the Ministry's decision was sent to the Ministry and to the appellant. Representations were received from both parties. In its submissions, the Ministry indicated that it would no longer be relying upon the application of section 21(1) of the Act to pages FI00012 and 17 of the first record. The Ministry also stated that it was specifically relying on the presumptions contained in sections 21(3)(a) and (b) of the Act with respect to the remaining parts of the records.
On August 6, 1993, while these representations were being considered, Commissioner Tom Wright issued Order M-170 which interpreted several statutory provisions of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in a way which differed from the interpretation developed in previous orders. Since a new approach to the operation of the Act was being adopted and because similar statutory provisions were at issue in the present appeal, it was determined that copies of Order M-170 should be provided to the appellant and the Ministry. The parties were then given an opportunity to change or supplement the representations which they had previously made. Further representations were received from the Ministry only.