The response to a Freedom of Information request records pertaining to a committee of council such as the Accessibility Committee with the wording "no records exist" is an indication that the process being used by the Clearview Township Clerks office to maintain municipal records is flawed OR something is being hidden.
Unlike the position of CAO, the position of CLERK is a required role specified in the Municipal Act and every Ontario municipality has to have one. One of the key specified requirements of that roles is to ENSURE that ALL of the records of the municipality are kept and accessible through the Freedom of Information system.
A township is supposed to ensure that ALL of the business conducted by Clearview STAFF and council INCLUDING its committees is recorded and for most part, and with few exceptions available to respond to requests for that information by residents. That includes communications in ANY FORM so even emails sent to email@example.com email addresses that are being ILLEGALLY blocked by an edict of council, once delivered to the "firstname.lastname@example.org" are deemed to be records of the corporation and accessibnle under the Freedom of Infoprmation process.
Since the inauguration of President Trump to our South, we've all been made aware of the use of PRIVATE EMAIL by his opponent as having impacted the election process and possibly be a way to "HIDE" information and records that are supposed to be publicly available.
One serious concern over the use of "private" emails is that the "free" systems commonly available to the public have very little security, messages reside on the system server (and not on the local machine) and if the account is ever closed ALL of the messages disappear and can no longer be accessed.
Why would any council support the use of private emails?
I believe that one of the reasons why the owner of this site has been BANNED from any communication with staff and council is because for the past three years he has tried to get the Clerk to issue "email@example.com" email addresses for ALL committees so that ALL records are properly maintained and there is continuity when membership of committees change.
These notifications have all taken place in writing and have resulted in private emails STILL being supported by the Clerk and the writer being BANNED!
Not only were the requests made to the Clerk, they were also communicated to the former Chair of the Accessibility Committee who could also not get this POLICY of STAFF changed. (copies of these letters to the Clerk and the committee available upon request).
When the records of residents are better than those of the person being paid to maintain them for the municipality, there's going to be "pushback" and there was - I WAS BANNED FROM ASKING QUESTIONS!
Luckily, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that where a record is not in the physical possession of a government institution, it will still be under its control if these two questions are answered in the affirmative:
(1) Do the contents of the document relate to a departmental matter?
(2) Could the government institution reasonably expect to obtain a copy of the document upon request?
The facts of each case will determine whether personal email are under the control of a public body. As a general rule, any email that an employee, councillor or member of a committee of council sends or receives as part of her or his employment duties will be a record under the public body's control, even if a personal account is used.
Since this news clip was written I have used the Freedom of Information process in an attempt to obtain the RECORDS related to the communications with the past chair of the accessibility committee who was using a private email since the clerk had refused to provide an @clearview.ca address.
This has resulted in both "records not found" and "this request is deemed vexatious" responses confirming the fact that the clerk is NOT MAINTAINING THE RECORDS AS REQUIRED BY THE MUNICIPAL ACT and using the same deficient "private email server" excuse as used by Ms Clinton in the U.S. as a way to ensure that records are not maintained and accessible!
Why has the CLERK chosen to use private emails for Clearview Township business?
Additionally the messages are only available to the account holder, so unless they are forwarded to a "government" account, communications are not retained in the public record as is required by the Municipal Act.
With the ever increasing number of records that the "delegated head for FOI" (also the CLERK) is not able to find there is an obvious issue with the ongoing refusal of the CLERK to provide firstname.lastname@example.org email addresses to members of commitees.