The B.C. Court of Appeal has granted Coun. Brian Skakun leave to appeal his conviction of violating the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act by leaking a report on the work environment at the Prince George RCMP detachment to a local media outlet.
In a decision issued Wednesday, Justice Kathryn Neilson found the trial judge may have erred in law in concluding that a municipal councillor is an officer of a public body under the Act.
Skakun said he is happy with the decision.
"It isn't a victory, but I think the Appeals Court has recognized the need to resolve this issue once and for all," Skakun said. "And whether or not we're officers of a public body under the Freedom of Information Act could have some pretty big implications for city councillors and regional district directors across the province."
In May 2011, Provincial Court Judge Ken Ball fined Skakun $750 and in July 2012, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Selwyn Romilly upheld the decision.
Nielson found two reasons to grant the leave - that Romilly may have misapprehended the ground for appeal and that Skakun's submissions, made through Prince George lawyer Jon Duncan, persuaded her that Romilly's review was not "sufficiently comprehensive and adequately addressed nuances and potential inconsistencies in the legislation under consideration."
Regardless of the outcome, Skakun said the provincial legislature will have to look at the issue.
"If they find I'm not an officer, is there implications with the Freedom of Information Act and if I am an officer, are there implications as well? So there are a lot of unknowns," Skakun said.
Skakun, who has said the original legal battle cost about $30,000, said Duncan is now working the case on a pro bono basis, or at no cost to the client.
"He feels this is a real important issue as well, so he's taking it on on my behalf and I'm really grateful for that," Skakun said.
A date for hearing the appeal has not been set, Skakun said.