In a recent case, the city of Waterloo was required by the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario, upheld by a three-judge divisional court panel, to disclose legal fees up to January of this year, in an ongoing legal battle over RIM Park financing. The city has already been forced by the Commission to release legal costs between 2004 and 2008. Read more here and here.
My Take: I have long advocated that in the interest of accountability and transparency, we should be disclosing to taxpayers legal fees spent on items of public interest, such as the pier litigation. It’s been a matter of public debate whether disclosing current legal fees or future legal budgets reveal a legal strategy and prejudice a municipality’s case. However, as a first step I’m interested in exploring incremental release of previous legal fees, for example fees from, say, two years ago. This could allow reasonable, annual disclosure of fees during lengthy legal proceedings without suggesting future legal strategy.
Your view: What do you think? Should the city reveal legal expenses – all of them including future budgets? Previous expenses only? None? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.