JEROME,Hon. Justice James, P.C.; Judge b. Kingston, Ont. 4 March 1933; s. Joseph Leonard and Phyllis (Devlin) J.; e. St. Michael's Coll. High Sch., Toronto Univ. of Toronto, B.A. 1954; Osgoode Hall Law Sch., grad. 1958; m. Barry Karen Hodgins,7 June 1958; children: Mary Lou, Paul, Jim. Jr., Joey (dec.), Megan Phyllis; ASSOC. CHIEF JUSTICE, FEDERAL COURT OF CANADA 1980- ; Privy Councillor 1981- ; Elected to Sudbury City Council, 1965; el. to H. of C. for Sudbury in g.e. 1968; re-el., 72, 74 & 79; Vice Chrmn., Standing Comte. on Privileges and Els.; Chrmn., Special Committee on E. Expenses, 1970; Parlty. Secy. to Pres. of Privy Council and Govt. House Leader, 1970; mem. Can. delegation to NATO, 1972; Chmn., Standing Comt on Justice and Legal Affairs, 1972-74; elected Speaker of the House of Commons, 1974, and in 1979 became the first Speaker to be re-elected after a change of government; el. Pres. of the Commonwealth Parliamentry Assn., 1976; Liberal; R. Catholic; recreations: golf; music; Home: 1051 Cahill Dr. W., Ottawa, Ont.; Office: Supreme Court of Canada Building, Ottawa, Ont. KlA 0H9.

Court orders Ottawa to release files

Southam News

OTTAWA-The federal government has been ordered to release 200 pages of secret immigration files in a precedent-setting court decision that marks the first legal victory for the access-to-information ombudsman.

The decision by Federal Court associate Chief Justice James Jerome contains harsh criticism of federal bureaucrats and, indirectly, of a cabinet minister for trying to thwart the spirit of open government enshrined in the 1983 access law.

This continuing secrecy is "an approach that runs directly against the very purpose for which this legislation was enacted," states Jerome, a former Liberal MP and speaker of the Commons.

Jerome's eight-page judgment, made public here Wednesday, was also hailed as a legal breakthrough for Canadians trying to challenge dubious affidavits and fraudulent documents in government files.

"This will open the doors," predicted a jubilant Gerald Goldstein, a Vancouver lawyer who has been battling immigration department secrecy for more than two years.

The secret files were used by immigration officials who denied permanent residence to a Filipino woman by rejecting the sponsorship of her husband, a Canadian citizen and federal employee. Goldstein applied for the documents on the husband's behalf and with the wife's waiver of any privacy barriers.

But immigration officials right up to the minister, Flora MacDonald, refused to let the husband see the documents behind the rejected sponsorship, even spurning the advice of openness from Information Commissioner Inger Hansen, the access ombudsman.

Jerome ruled that the officials were ignoring the clear intention of the law by their refusal. They stubbornly interpreted a discretion to release private information as a discretion to keep the files secret, he said.

"The purpose of the access to information act is to codify the right of access to information held by the government. It is not to codify the government's right of refusal."

The victory provides a boost to the ombudsman just as a Commons committee begins hearings into revising the three-year-old access law. Hansen took the immigration officials to the Federal Court for refusing to comply with the access law.

"I don't use words like victory," Hansen said Wednesday, "but this judgment confirms the principles announced by ministers when the access law was proclaimed in 1983."

(text of May 8, 1986 Vancouver Sun article)