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Ontario fights order to release documents outlining cabinet minister priorities

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Monday, April 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner says the government is going to court to prevent the release of Premier Doug Ford’s mandate letters to his cabinet ministers, which outline their key priorities.

Former premier Kathleen Wynne began making those documents public in 2014, but the current government is fighting an order from the commissioner to release them.

The government denied a freedom of information request for the mandate letters, saying they are cabinet documents and therefore automatically exempt from disclosure.

But information and privacy commissioner Brian Beamish says the documents don’t actually reveal any government deliberations, the substance of any meetings, discussions or options considered by the premier’s office.

He ordered the government to disclose the letters by Aug. 16, but instead it has filed an application for judicial review of the order in Divisional Court.

Beamish says Ontarians have a right to know what the government’s policy priorities are.