NEWS

N.L. legislators talk all night against secrecy

06/12/2012 06:11 EDT | Updated 08/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Opposition MHAs kept Newfoundland and Labrador's house of assembly open overnight, debating changes to the province's access to information and privacy protection laws.

A government bill would broaden the definition of cabinet secrecy — making it more difficult for the public to obtain government documents.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said the changes are a far cry from what the Tories promised when they came to power in 2003.

"[They were] promising full and prompt disclosure of information, including cabinet documents, to the public," Michael said in the legislature Monday. "What does she [Premier Kathy Dunderdale] now say to the people of the province with regards to their access to freedom of information?”

The legislation also gives cabinet ministers new powers to deny information requests that they judge to be "frivolous."

The bill would also bar the auditor general from viewing government documents that his office says he has always had the right to see.

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball calls it a big step backward.

“Former premier [Danny] Williams stated an effective freedom of information act is the best safeguard against the tendency of government’s to descend into secrecy and elitism,” he said.

The Liberals and NDP are vowing to delay the bill's passage as long as they can.

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