TORONTO / Nov. 29 / CNW — The Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure is the 2017 recipient of the Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the category of provincial government ministries and agencies.
The award is given annually by The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University (CFE), News Media Canada and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) to call public attention to government departments and agencies that put extra effort into denying public access to government information to which the public has a right under access to information legislation.
The awards jury, which comprised representatives of the four press-freedom advocacy groups, recognized Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure with this citation:
In March 2016 CBC Saskatchewan filed a series of access requests to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure related to emails and other documents that would shed light on a land deal in the province in which a provincial Crown corporation paid two to three times more for land than government appraisals said the land was worth. Over the next 17 months, the ministry used every means possible to delay response to these requests. On four separate occasions CBC referred the matter to Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, and on four separate occasions he issued increasingly stern rebukes to the ministry. In his final report, Commissioner Ron Kruzeniski said, ‘I have no choice but to conclude that Highways is not able to manage its freedom of information process properly.
In light of this persistent determination to deny information to the public, Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure has been selected as the winner of the 2017 Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the category of provincial government ministries and agencies.
Previously announced recipients of 2017 Code of Silence awards are the Treasury Board of Canada (federal category), Toronto Hydro (local category), and the RCMP (law enforcement category).