Mount Allison University has refused The Argosy’s request for payment invoices to their chief negotiator during the faculty labour dispute. Halifax-based lawyer Brian Johnston of Stewart McKelvey was the chief negotiator for the university side in the contract negotiations, which lasted from July 4, 2013, to Feb. 16, 2014.
The Argosy filed the request on Feb. 4 under New Brunswick’s right to information legislation. As the university is a public institution in the province, the act allows individuals to request files of the university by submitting a form to David Stewart, Mt. A’s vice-president administration.
Stewart replied to the request in a Feb. 14 letter to The Argosy, which stated: “[The] invoices are subject to solicitor client privilege and therefore I refuse to provide you with access to them under section 27(1)(a) of the Act.”
Section 27 of the Right to Information Act covers under what circumstances the public body may choose to deny an applicant the information she or he requested. Section 27(1)(a) of the act reads: “The head of a public body may refuse to disclose to an applicant (a) information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege.”
According to the Canadian Bar Association, solicitor-client privilege applies to communication between a lawyer and client for the purpose of legal advice. The privilege is the client’s, who may voluntarily disclose the information.
While Stewart is not the head of Mt. A, the letter notes that University President Robert Campbell has delegated all “his duties and powers under the Act with the exception of the power to delegate.”