Retired archivist in legal battle with U of S

University of Saskatchewan redacted over 80 per cent of the requested documents. (Courtesy U of S)

Hande requested documents about U of S’ research interests

Bianca Bharti, Daily Herald

After submitting an access to information request, a man pursued a notice of appeal in the Court of the Queen’s Bench against the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon on Thursday.

D’Arcy Hande filed the appeal, asking the court to enforce recommendations made by Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner that the university lift most of the redactions put in place of the requested document.

Hande, a retired archivist who worked on the campus for the provincial archives, is part of an informal academic integrity group that acts as a “watchdog” for U of S.

In December 2015, the university held a closed meeting involving agriculture industry representatives, he said.

The American organization Right to Know, faculty, research funders, communications personnel and industry representatives made up 20 of the invite-only attendees, according the Hande.

He said he has felt “very concerned for some time” about the university’s research dealings.

Though the Daily Herald contacted spokespeople from the U of S, no response was given.

Through previous freedom of information requests, Hande accessed emails that showed Prof. Peter Phillips from U of S and a lead from Monsanto Canada, Camille Ryan, organized the closed meeting to “to develop strategies for managing the intense media scrutiny of collaborations between university researchers and the agricultural chemical industry.”

In August 2017, on behalf of his informal watchdog group, Hande submitted an FOI for the meeting proceedings, but the university blacked out over three-quarters of the content. Names and affiliations of participants and almost all discussion was redacted.

Hande asked Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Ron Kruzeniski to review the university’s actions. In Kruzeniski’s opinion, delivered on June 5, 2018, the university had not applied the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act appropriately.

He recommended U of S lift most of the redactions, but they did not do so. Soon, Hande began to pursue the notice of appeal.