On June 12, I made a request from the federal government for documents from the Prime Minister’s Office related to the Devils Lake Outlet issue, including briefing notes and correspondence between the PMO and Washington on the issue.
Usually an Access to Information request is supposed to take 30 days. But I was warned it would take longer. It ended up taking the Privy Council Office 148 days to send me a package of 21 documents. No wait, it should have contained 21 pages but the first five pages were held back because they are confidential.
One might think that means there is actually information on the remaining pages. One would be wrong.
Every single page has almost every piece of information blacked out except for the date and time of meetings which occurred two years ago, and headings telling me what would be contained in the blacked out parts if I could read them.
Among the information which apparently is too secret to let Canadians in on is the proposed agenda of items for discussion at a meeting between Harper and President George W. Bush in Washington in June 2006, and items for discussion at a meeting between Harper, Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox in March 2006.
These aren’t the actual agendas mind you. They are just the proposed agenda items for Harper’s review.
What is so classified about subjects Harper and Bush could have talked about at meetings we know took place more than two years ago?
Ironically each page is stamped with the following note:
"Notwithstanding any security markings appearing on this record, the information contained herein is no longer classified."
Basically it took the federal government 148 days to find 21 pages of briefing notes which contained a reference to Devils’ Lake, photocopy the pages, black out all the text, and then forward them to me so they could claim the access request was complete.
Yes, open and transparent government indeed.