Mystery Ontarian uses Freedom of Information request to find secret fishing spot

Mike Borger

When Mike Borger made a video of highlights from a trout fishing ship in Algonquin Park this summer, he made sure not to share the location of a particularly bountiful lake. However, one ingenious viewer is attempting to find out where it is anyway, and they’re taking a strangely bureaucratic approach: filing a Freedom of Information request.

Freedom of Information requests (or FOIs) allow citizens to request records and files from the government, usually to ensure government transparency. However, in this case, the enterprising citizen is apparently requesting access to camping permits, which would give them a pretty clear idea of where Borger has been.

Borger, who often posts about fishing trips on his website, said he did give credit to the unknown person for their imagination. “I’m going to give him credit, because it was an incredibly smart — underhanded and a little bit devious — but also very smart way to get this information,” he told the CBC. 

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A letter from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry alerted Borger to the information request.Borger learned about the request in a letter from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, though they would not confirm the identity of the person who had filed it. However, he has since learned that the request has been denied on privacy grounds (information that violates personal privacy will not be granted through FOI requests).

Thunder Bay lawyer Jordan Lester called the information request “a case without merit.”

“The whole purpose of this freedom of information regime is more to shine light on government actions,” Lester told the CBC. “It’s meant to be transparent. And not necessarily to find out where an individual has been camping.” He also said that Borger’s information could be considered a trade secret, and therefore private. He also opined that filing a request to find out where someone has been camping is “weird and creepy.” However, he noted that the person who filed the request still had the option to appeal the rejection.

As for Borger, he says he won’t willingly give up the location of the lake to anyone, no matter how they ask. “I haven’t told anybody about this lake. I wouldn’t even tell my best friend about this lake.”