Guide to FOIP-Chapter 4

Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner. Guide to FOIP, Chapter 4, Exemptions from the Right of Access. Updated 8 April 2024. 97 decision-making process before the formulation and announcement of a final decision “would increase the public pressure that stakeholders put on ministers and give rise to partisan criticism from their political opponents”; this scrutiny “would ultimately paralyze the collective decision-making process” (p. 26). … [61] In approaching assertions of Cabinet confidentiality, administrative decision makers and reviewing courts must be attentive not only to the vital importance of public access to government-held information but also to Cabinet secrecy’s core purpose of enabling effective government, and its underlying rationales of efficiency, candour, and solidarity. They must also be attentive to the dynamic and fluid nature of executive decision making, the function of Cabinet itself and its individual members, the role of the Premier, and Cabinet’s prerogative to determine when and how to announce its decisions. Cabinet establishes the provincial government’s policies and priorities for the province. Cabinet ministers are collectively responsible for all actions taken by the Cabinet and must publicly support all Cabinet decisions. In order to reach final decisions, ministers must be able to express their views freely during the discussions held in Cabinet. To allow the exchange of views to be disclosed publicly would result in the erosion of the collective responsibility of ministers. As a result, the collective decision-making process has traditionally been protected by the rule of confidentiality, which upholds the principle of collective responsibility and enables ministers to engage in full and frank discussions necessary for the effective running of a Cabinet system.352 The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that Cabinet confidentiality is essential to good government. In the decision Babcock v. Canada (Attorney General), 2002, the Court explained the reasons for this: “The process of democratic governance works best when Cabinet members charged with government policy and decision-making are free to express themselves around the Cabinet table unreservedly.”353 352 Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (Cabinet confidences), Accessed June 26, 2019. Also referenced in the Office of the Information Commissioner resource, The Access to Information Act and Cabinet confidence: A Discussion of New Approaches, 1996 at p. 5. 353 Babcock v. Canada (Attorney General), [2002] 2 SCR 3, 2002 SCC 57 (CanLII) at [18]. Also cited in Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (Cabinet confidences), Accessed June 26, 2019.