03/09/2013 09:55 EST | Updated 05/09/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. court to rule if city councillor is above privacy law

The BC Court of Appeal has said it is willing to weigh-in on a long-running freedom of information and privacy protection case involving a city councillor from Prince George.

In 2011, Brian Skakun was found guilty of breaching the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) for having leaked a confidential city report to the CBC.

The private consultant's report detailed complaints of harassment against Dahl Chambers, the superintendent of the city's RCMP detachment, and concluded his alleged romantic relationship with a senior city manager was a conflict of interest.

CBC obtained the documents, reported on them and posted them online in August 2008. Skakun later testified he released the documents because he had a duty to protect city employees.

In his appeal, which was denied by the BC Supreme Court last summer, Skakun said the provincial privacy protection laws should apply to municipal employees, not elected officials.

Skakun says the issue is bigger than his particular case.

"Regardless of what happens, I think the legislature with the province of B.C. is going to have to look at the whole issue of privacy legislation: how elected officials can do their jobs, how elected officials can be whistleblowers without being convicted under the act," Skakun told CBC News.

In her March 6 decision granting Skakun leave to appeal, Court of Appeal Justice Kathryn E. Neilson agreed that the role of elected officials under FOIPPA should be examined.

Neilson wrote that the interests of justice favour examining the issues of whether an elected official is defined as "an officer... of a public body."

A date for an appeal hearing hasn't been set.