Late last month I had a conference call with five representatives from the TDSB, a mediator from the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and veteran journalist and author Mark Bourrie from Ottawa, who I asked to join the call because he has extensive experience in filing freedom of information requests. The call ended with us agreeing to remove “complaint letters from members of the public and media communication that is any correspondence to and from media organizations” from my request to get all communications to and from the TDSB involving the hijab hoax incident from January. I decided to exclude these pages from the request, since they’re likely inconsequential, to try and narrow the search down to the communications among TDSB decision makers and the different levels of government.
Two weeks later, the TDSB gave me a new cost estimate of $895 in order to process 838 pages. This was a slight drop from the original estimate of $955 to process 905 pages. In order to begin processing my request, the TDSB needs a cheque deposit for half of the estimated amount. I’ve now submitted the cheque and, unless the TDSB asks for an extension to process the request, I should receive the communications in a month’s time.
In the meantime, I would like to try one more fundraising push. So far I’ve spent $35 in processing fees and ten hours of work on this ATIP (Access to Information and Privacy) request. If the estimate is correct, the processing of the documents will cost another $895. Deduct tax and the GoFundMe processing fees and I’m currently left with a little over $100 for my troubles. This does not include the many hours I will spend poring over the TDSB documents and writing a report. Many lament the poor standards of much of the journalism today, but if you want investigative, hard-hitting journalism, you have to be willing to have patience and pay for it. If you’re behind this story seeing the light of day, and want more hard-hitting journalism from Raving Canuck, please consider making a contribution to this project.
This crowdfunder is a trial balloon. If it is successful Raving Canuck will follow it up with other investigative projects. The next two prospective projects involve looking into the in flux of illegal immigration into Canada in the past couple years as well as the Ontario government’s year-old Ontario Student Assistant Program — which gives free tuition to hundreds of thousands of post-secondary students from low-income houses, no matter their grades or if their program of study isn’t a good investment for taxpayers.
With hindsight, choosing to crowdfund a large ATIP request probably wasn’t the best choice for a trial balloon because of the months it has taken to process the request. Future projects will not involve large ATIP requests and should take only about a month’s time to complete.
Thank you to all of our contributors to date for your patience. We hope to have some answers on how the TDSB decided to host a press conference at one of its schools only a few hours after one of its students had been allegedly attacked in about a month’s time.