Northern Village of Pinehouse mayor, council did not deliberately violate FOI rules: inquiry

An inquiry into the operations of the Northern Village of Pinehouse, Sask., found that council was not meeting their legislative responsibilities for access to information requests and some municipal operations.

However, the report does not recommend that the mayor and council be removed.

This process began in December 2018, when the Saskatchewan Privacy Commissioner said the municipality had been blocking freedom of information (FOI) requests. This triggered an inspection, which was later expanded to a formal inquiry in March 2019 following a report on the initial inspection.

The inspection report recommended the removal of Mayor Mike Natomagan and Deputy Mayor Conrad Misponas from office.

This was one of the main considerations of former Court of Appeal judge William Vancise’s inquiry, which he was appointed to lead in June 2019.

In his report, which was submitted to Government Relations Minister Lori Carr on Dec. 23, 2019, and released publicly Feb. 19, Vancise found the village was non-compliant with requirements under FOI rules and the Northern Municipalities Act (NMA).

However, Vancise added that evidence suggests the non-compliance was not a deliberate disregard for the law. Instead, he said, the mayor and council did not have “a sufficient understanding of their responsibilities” under the relevant legislation, nor the resources in place to achieve compliance.

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