Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ontario Superior Court Rejects Government Bid to Conceal Autism Lawsuit Costs

In a decision which could have embarrassing political costs for the government of Autism Promise Breaker Dalton McGuinty a three justice panel of the Ontario Superior Court has rejected the government's bid to keep secret the legal costs it incurred in fighting a lawsuit brought by parents seeking therapy for their autistic children. The parents were seeking in the courts what they felt had been promised them by Premier McGuinty while he was campaigning. It is interesting to note in the following Canadian Press report of the decision that government lawyers advanced arguments before the court which they had not made before the Privacy Commisioner whose decision was the subject of the judicial review proceedings. As the matter proceeded through the legal process the McGuinty government became ever more determined - or desperate - to continue concealing the costs to taxpayers of his decision to fight the parents who were seeking help for their autistic children - children Mr. McGuinty had promised to help.

Court rejects bid to conceal autism lawsuit costs

Canadian Press

TORONTO — The Superior Court of Justice has rejected a government request to conceal how much it spent fighting a lawsuit filed by parents of autistic children.

New Democrat Shelley Martel filed a request under the province's Freedom of Information law to find out the cost of the province's legal bills in fighting a lawsuit that sought intensive autism therapy for children over the age of six.

Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian ruled earlier this year that the government should release the total by March 8, but the attorney general's ministry sought a judicial review of that decision.

On Monday, a panel of three judges rejected the government's application and said Crown lawyers tried to build some of its case based on arguments that were not presented to Cavoukian's office, and therefore weren't valid in court.

The lawyers had argued the government's legal bills were covered by solicitor-client privilege and shouldn't be disclosed. They told the court that disclosing the fees would set a precedent that would apply to all lawyers and their clients across the province.

Martel had argued the costs were a matter of public interest. She said the government could have better spent that money on treatment for children, rather than fighting families in court.

The judges also rejected another government application for a judicial review into a case involving funding for a test for a rare form of eye cancer.

Cavoukian's office had ordered that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care disclose how much it spent on a series of appeals involving reimbursement for the cost of the testing.

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