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Supreme Court rules Ont. Premier Doug Ford’s mandate letters to be kept secret

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the Ontario government does not have to disclose Premier Doug Ford's mandate letters in a unanimous decision issued Friday.

Top court says mandate letters do reveal substance of cabinet deliberations

Ontario Premier Doug Ford gives remarks at the 2023 Ontario Economic Summit, in Toronto, on Nov. 1, 2023.

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the Ontario government does not have to disclose Premier Doug Ford's mandate letters in a unanimous decision issued Friday.

"The Letters are revealing of the substance of Cabinet deliberations, both on their face and when compared against what government actually does," wrote Justice Andromache Karakatsanis in the majority decision.

Mandate letters traditionally lay out the marching orders a premier has for each of their ministers after taking office — and have been routinely released by governments across the country.

But the Ford government went to great lengths to keep the premier's 2018 letters secret by appealing court orders to disclose the records all the way up to Canada's top court, which heard the province's appeal last April. Despite those efforts, a copy of all 23 of Ford's 2018 mandate letters was reportedly leaked to Global News in September of last year.

CBC Toronto originally filed a freedom of information request for the records in July 2018. The government denied access in full, arguing the letters were exempt from disclosure as cabinet records.

Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act states that any records that "would reveal the substance of deliberations of the executive council or its committee" are exempt from public disclosure under what's commonly referred to as the cabinet record exemption.

More to come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Brockbank

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Nicole Brockbank is a reporter for CBC Toronto's Enterprise Unit. Fuelled by coffee, she digs up, researches and writes original investigative and feature stories. nicole.brockbank@cbc.ca

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