Joint Statement by Michele Beaton, Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture and Land and Trish Altass, Official Opposition Critic for Health and Wellness on The Standing Committee on Health and Social Development’s decision to subpoena IRAC report on Brendel Farm land sale
Despite numerous attempts by the Minister of Agriculture and Land to prevent the release of IRAC’s corporate land transaction report, the efforts of the Official Opposition and its legislative colleagues have paved the way for strong oversight on the King government’s handling of land matters.
Earlier today, we sent a letter to the Chair of the Health and Social Development Committee providing the grounds on which we believed the Minister could lawfully provide the report to the Committee, and moved a motion to subpoena this report so it could be reviewed.
We are pleased the Committee voted unanimously to compel the Minister to produce the report. The Minister has until March 5, 2021 to provide the unredacted report to the Committee for review.
The Legislative Assembly Act grants the Legislative Assembly and its committees the power to subpoena documents. This is an important tool that assists the Legislative Assembly and its committees in obtaining the records and things it needs to properly execute their duties.
Parliamentary precedent has demonstrated that this subpoena power prevails over privacy legislation, and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act authorizes public bodies, like the Department of Agriculture and Land, to disclose personal information for the purposes of complying with a subpoena.
The Official Opposition is committed to diligently and thoroughly reviewing the findings of the IRAC corporate land transaction report and acting on any recommendations that may have been made to ensure that the spirit and the intent of the Lands Protection Act are upheld.
The letter to the committee by Official Opposition MLAs Michele Beaton, Trish Altass, and Hannah Bell can be found here:
The original motion put forward by MLA Trish Altass can be found here (Note: the motion was amended at Committee to require the production of the report by March 5th, 2021):
Trish Altass, MLA Tyne Valley – Sherbrooke
Michele Beaton, MLA Mermaid – Stratford
February 26, 2021