I appreciate the latitude, Mr. Chair, because my amendments speak to this very issue.
The reason I asked earlier to be directed to the amendment from the government that attempted to solve the problem that was presented in clause 6 and identified so forcefully by many witnesses, including the Information Commissioner, was that LIB-3 does not do what I believe the Liberals think it will do.
If you read proposed section 6 by itself and you imagine statutory interpretation, you have mandatory requirements in several places. The request “shall” be made in writing. It “shall” set forth the following information and provide sufficient detail. There are a lot of requirements there.
I don't believe a government department will feel confident that it has to go to the Information Commissioner to get permission in order to say, “We've read the provision. We don't have to answer this request. It's very clear—black and white—that in requests for access to a record, the person requesting it shall do the following things mandatorily.”
The section that follows, proposed section 6.1, which is the only section being amended at this point—and I hope you'll consider my amendments—does create a discretionary opportunity:
The head of a government institution may, before giving a person access to a record or refusing to do so,
With that—before refusing to do so—the requirement of a head of government is discretionary. They “may” decide for these reasons.
There are absolute requirements for a person asking for the record under proposed section 6. They are required to have it in writing. They are required to speak to proposed paragraphs 6(a), (b), and (c) and to provide sufficient detail. Those are mandatory requirements of this act that I don't believe are obviated by the amendment put forward in LIB-3.
I think there's good intention here, so I hope perhaps we can work together and fix it.