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 CAJ denounces Nova Scotia's 
planned fee hikes 

(May 8) The Canadian Association of Journalists is pulling out the stops to try to derail Nova Scotia government's proposed massive fee increases. To back up the local CAJ chapter, national president Robert Cribb is taking the CAJ's message directly to the Nova Scotia government committee studying the fee measures. The CAJ is a founding member of OGC. CFDs on cryptocurrencies


Read the CAJ press release on what Cribb said.
Read the CAJ press release announcing Cribb's presentation
Read a Halifax Daily News story on the plan and local reaction

 Winnipeg conference to discuss state of access to info policy in Canada 

(May 7, 2002) Canada's federal Access to Information Act is approaching 20 years without reform. The Task Force Review charged with studying what should be done is repeatedly delaying its report. Provincial governments change their laws to limit access and hike fees. How healthy is Canada's access to information culture? That's the topic of a national conference on access to government and corporate information this upcoming weekend (May 9-11) in Winnipeg. 

Speakers will include: Andree Delagrave, Chair of Federal Access to Information Review Task Force, John Reid, the Information Commissioner of Canada, Dr. Alasdair Roberts, of Syracuse University, Hon. Horace Krever, the Commissioner of the Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, and many others.

The conference, called Open & Controlled Society: Access to Government & Corporate Information, is sponsored by a variety of groups interested in access to information policy, including OGC.

View the Open & Controlled Society conference website.

 Anti-terror bill unnecessarily overrides 

Access to Information Act 

(October 29, 2001) Open Government Canada questions the Liberal government's justification for its legislative proposal in Bill C-36 which would allow the Justice Minister to suspend the ATI Act "for the purpose of protecting international relations or national defence or security". The government asserts that Canada's allies have called on it to provide more assurances that security and intelligence information won't be released.

However, Open Government Canada asserts that there is no evidence any of our allies are contemplating restrictions on their citizens' right to know similar to Section 87 of C-36, and questions why Canada should take such a step if our allies aren't.

Futhermore, OGC opposes Section 87 because it duplicates the Act's already stringent exemptions for this kind of information. The only difference difference would be that the information could be withheld on these grounds without the independent oversight of the Office of the Information Commissioner or the federal courts

Read OGC's press release
See Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press letter
See the National Security Archive letter
Read Prof. Al Roberts' op/ed

See the Section 87 of C-36 (You'll have to scroll down).

Read the testimony on C-36 - House Standing Committee on Justice 
(starts Oct. 18 at 3:35pm Only first day available as of Oct. 30).

 OGC seeks public input for non-legislative

 changes to Access law 

(October 17, 2001) As the Access to Information Task Force Review gets closer to releasing its recommendations, it's becoming clearer that they will propose some changes to the way the government charges for Access requests. But the fee provisions of the Act aren't in the law, and changing them could be done without changing the law. They can be changed by order-in-council, giving the public no opportunity to comment on their proposals. And many other aspects of the access process are susceptible to such non-legislative change. So far, the government has only committed to holding public hearings on legislative changes. Open Government Canada has written to the ministers in charge requesting a four-month public input process on any administrative or internal policy changes they may have in mind.

Read OGC's letter.

 OGC testifies before Bryden
"MPs on Access Committee"
 

(August 28, 2001) Duff Conacher and Maria Neil of Open Government Canada testified before a all-party committee of MPs looking into the state of the Access to Information Act. Open Government Canada supports the goals of the Bryden committee and denounces federal cabinet moves to shut it down.

Read the OGC press release
Watch portions of our presentation

Read Committee's final report
Read OGC press release calling on government to heed call for openness

 OGC releases ATI Review submission

 at Ottawa press conference

(July 25, 2001) Open Government Canada released its submission to the Access to Information Review Task Force at a press conference in Ottawa today. Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch, and Catharine Laidlaw Sly, President of National Council of Women of Canada distributed copies of the submission, entitled From Secrecy to Openness: How to Strengthen Canada's Access to Information System, and answered questions from journalists from various newspapers, wire services and broadcast outlets.

Read the OGC press release
Download the OGC Submission (PDF

Want to take action? See our Action Alert!

 Canada's first Automatic Access-to-Information
Letter-Generator is launched!

(July 15, 2001) OGC is proud to present a tool for Canadians who need help in writing an access-to-information request. Inspired by a similar tool offered by a U.S. organization, OGC set about to create a simple, fill-in-the-blanks form which will create a ready-to-send access to information letter. We've collected all the addresses, phone and fax numbers you'll need to send your request. At each stage of the form, we've provided expertise and guidance on how best to phrase your requests.

We hope that this tool will encourage Canadians to make use of their information rights. At first, we'll only be able to help you with requests to the federal government. But we plan to have letter-generators for each province and territory within a year.

Check out our  Federal ATI Letter Generator.

 Public gives  ATI Review Task Force its views

 on the state of Canada's access laws

(21 August, 2001) Organizations and individuals accross Canada have been submitting position papers to the federal task force charged with reviewing the federal Access to Information Act. They'll be posted here as OGC obtains or finds them.

Read the submissions:

Canadian Library Association
Canadian Media Guild
Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner
National Council of Women of Canada
Ad Idem

More submissions can be found on the ATI Review Task force's website.

Most recently, the Public Policy Forum has submitted its report on a series of round-tables it conducted for the Task Force.

OGC member Prof. Alasdair Roberts has assembled documents and information relating to the upcoming review.

 Canadian journalists designate
most secretive government agency

(26 May, 2001) The Canadian Association of Journalists gave the Ontario Ministry of the Environment its first annual "Code of Silence" prize at its annual awards dinner. The prize is intended to recognize the most secretive government department in Canada. The Ministry won the prize for "withholding information about the Walkerton water tragedy that claimed six lives and sickened hundreds more following contamination of the town's water system." The CAJ is a founding member of OGC, and many of its members are active in OGC.

Read the CAJ's press release.

 OGC slams Privacy Commissioner's open letter to Information Commissioner

(11 May, 2001) Open Government Canada has denounced the federal Privacy Commissioner for his unusual intervention into a dispute between the Information Commissioner and the Prime Minister’s Office.

"George Radwanski displays a fundamental lack of understanding of the issues involved in this dispute," says Robert Cribb, an Open Government Canada board member. "In his misguided call for privacy, he is actually supporting government secrecy."

Read OGC's press release

 

 Federal ATIA Review Task Force names
External Advisory Committee

(8 May, 2001) - The Task Force reviewing the ATIA has finally named its "external advisory committee". This body is supposed to help the Task Force broaden its perspective of what aspects of the Act need fixing from the narrow concerns of federal bureaucrats. OGC would like it known that Queen's University Professor Alasdair Roberts, a rare expert on Canadian and international FOI law and a member of OGC, was invited to join the committee, but the offer was withdrawn when he asked that the process be made more open and accountable.

Read the Task Force's press release

 

 Federal Access to Information Review 

Task Force releases consultation paper 

(30 March, 2001) - The federal government group examining possible reform of the Access to Information Act has shed some light on what options might be considered in their review. In the words of the task force, their consulation paper is intended to "to explore possible avenues for reform and encourage public participation in the review process."

PDF format    |    HTML

 

 

Canada-FOI email discussion list

Canada-FOI is a discussion group created by OGC to foster public dialog on Canadian FOI issues. Postings to the list are archived and fully-searchable on the discussion groups website.

Click leaf to join Canada-FOI

Updated

 Friday, January 24, 2003


Info Policy News 

Open ethics office to scrutiny: watchdog 
Ottawa Citizen  12/16/02
Legislation that shields the new federal ethics office from public scrutiny is another step in increasing government secrecy, Canada's information commissioner told a Commons committee yesterday.

Top court deals blow to federal secrecy 
Ottawa Citizen  11/22/02
Renowned lawyer Clayton Ruby won a small victory against state secrecy yesterday, when the Supreme Court ruled that a judge, not the government, should decide whether court proceedings involving national security will happen entirely in secret.

Watchdog decries tilt toward 'secrecy' 
Ottawa Citizen  10/11/02
Adoption of government task force proposals to overhaul the Access to Information Act would turn a law that's supposed to ensure openness into secrecy legislation, the federal information watchdog warns.

New access law could bring more gov't secrecy, says info watchdog 
Canadian Press  10/10/02
The Access to Information law is in danger of becoming a vehicle for making government information even more secret if changes proposed by an insider task force are accepted, the federal access watchdog says.

[BC] "Open and accountable" BC Liberals slam door on information flow (Press release)
BC NDP  10/10/02
Premier Gordon Campbell is sneaking through a change to BC's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation that will prevent British Columbians from accessing a wide variety of previously obtainable government documents, Opposition Leader Joy MacPhail said today.

Better access to information fading
Ottawa Citizen  10/04/02
Prospects for reform of Canada's freedom-of-information law faded yesterday amid talk of further government study of possible changes. Key officials involved in a review of the Access to Information Act indicated there would be many months of consultations and preparatory work before proposals could be drafted for consideration by the federal cabinet.

Feds to expand access to info
Canadian Press  08/06/02
Extending the Access to Information Act to Crown corporations and other institutions not currently covered by the law will be among the major changes introduced this fall by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, sources have told The Canadian Press.

Ottawa to guard info about industrial chemicals . . .
Canadian Press  07/21/02
People living near industrial sites will soon find it more difficult to get information about dangerous chemicals stored on the properties. Ottawa has drafted new environmental regulations that will classify certain information on materials that could be dangerous in the hands of terrorists.

Federal gov't plans to keep more public records secret
Ottawa Citizen  06/24/02
The Chrétien Government has just received its internal Treasury Board's Access Task Force Report and plans to use it as the basis for ramming through regressive amendments this fall to Canada's 1982 Access to Information Act. This means more public records will be cut off, including ones exposing government waste in the sponsorship program.

Info. czar fears 'zone of secrecy' expanding
Ottawa Citizen  06/19/02
The federal information watchdog has lambasted a government task force's proposed changes to the country's freedom-of-information law as timid moves that would "expand the zone of secrecy in Canada."

Info. watchdog chastises PMO for attacks on right to know
Southam News  06/06/02
Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his senior officials continue to display a "hostile attitude" towards the public right of access to government records, says the federal information watchdog, in his annual report tabled Thursday.

Feds get C grade on information access
Canadian Press 06/06/02
The right of access to government information is under siege, the federal information commissioner says. New ways to obscure ministerial spending, new laws brought in after Sept. 11 and new government bodies not subject to access laws all point to a steady erosion of the right to key information, John Reid said Thursday in his annual report.

Privacy office appeals database release
Toronto Star  05/28/02
Ontario's information and privacy commissioner is appealing a court order requiring the release of Toronto's municipal election donations in the hopes of keeping the electronic database from the public. The appeal is being made by the office of commissioner Ann Cavoukian despite a willingness by the city to open its computer records.

Panel targets Parliament's 'weakest link'
Ottawa Citizen  05/28/02
A new super parliamentary committee being set up to oversee the spending of $170 billion taxpayer dollars previously unscrutized by Parliament will also provide a home for independent officers of Parliament, who have long complained their reports don't get the attention they deserve, such as the Information and Privacy Commissioners and Public Service Commission.

Radwanski under political fire
The Hill Times  05/27/02
Two Liberal MPs are attacking Federal Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski's confrontational approach to public policy issues and former privacy commissioner John Grace says Mr. Radwanksi's style is "dangerous."

Grit senator attacks governments' nuclear bill
The Hill Times  05/20/02
A government bill to set up a $550-million agency designed to develop Canada's long-term nuclear waste policy is coming under fire by a Liberal-dominated Senate committee because the body won't be subject to the Access to Information Act or the Auditor General's Office.

[ON] Ruling opens elections database
The Toronto Star  05/11/02
A Divisional Court panel has rejected attempts by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the City of Toronto to prevent The Star from having access to an electronic database of campaign donations made to political candidates in the 1997 municipal elections.

Task Force to call for access-to-info changes
Southam News  05/10/02
A federal task force studying Canada's freedom-of-information law is poised to call for an array of changes to improve public access to government records such as now-secret cabinet papers.

[NS] Access to information fee hike a concern
CBC Nova Scotia News  05/09/02
Darce Fardy, the person responsible for overseeing the province's access to information law is speaking out against the Hamm government's new access fees.

The right to know in a timely fashion [Op/Ed]
Ottawa Citizen  05/07/02
Canada's right-to-information laws are supposed to give every Canadian equal access to documents by government departments. But many who use these laws suspect that in reality there is a double standard on access to information -- and now there is more evidence that they're right, according to Dr. Alasdair Roberts.

Media, politicians get slower Access to Info service: study
Southam News 05/06/02
Formal requests for information submitted by journalists and political parties to the Human Resources Department took at least three weeks longer to answer than queries from other Canadians, a new study has found.

[MB] Province short on freedom of information 
CBC Manitoba News 04/25/02
Manitobans are filing a record number of complaints about troubles they're facing while trying to access public information, according to the provincial ombudsman's annual access and privacy report.

[NS] Province hikes price of truth
The Daily News (Halifax) 03/27/02
Nova Scotians may no longer be able to afford the truth. The provincial government is hiking fees on freedom of information requests more than fivefold, to $25 from $5 for each request, making it the most expensive province in which to obtain public information.  

Public servants face criminal charges under secrets law 
National Post  03/03/02
Government officials could face criminal charges for violating a strict new official secrets law, part of the federal government's anti-terrorism bill, according to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Federal files routinely lost, destroyed: government 
Southam News  02/07/02
Many federal records are permanently lost or difficult to find because of a lack of staff, inadequate training and new technology that makes it easy to delete files, government departments candidly admit in a new report.

Ministers' spending hidden from public 
Ottawa Citizen 01/22/02
The federal government has dropped a veil over the spending habits of cabinet ministers and their aides by refusing to release expense reports requested through the Access to Information Act.

Amended bill threatens public's right to know, information watchdog says 
Southam News  11/26/01
Canada's information watchdog broke a week of silence Monday by expressing deep concerns about the government's amended anti-terrorism bill as it heads for a final vote in the House of Commons.

Senators demand limits to terror bill 
Ottawa Citizen  11/01/01
A special Senate committee report is recommending an appeal system for the portion of the government's controversial anti-terrorism bill that allows the government to issue a certificate exempting records from the Access to Information Act.

Drop plan to let Minister shield data, MPs advise 
National Post  11/01/01
The government should drop plans to give the Justice Minister the power to keep information permanently secret if it pertains to national security or foreign relations, a committee of MPs will recommend today.

McLellan hints at concession in terror bill 
Southam News 10/29/01
Justice Minister Anne McLellan, under pressure from critics who say her proposed anti-terrorism bill restricts the public's right to know, signalled Monday she is prepared to tinker with the controversial provision. 

Anti-terrorism bill puts privacy [and access] at risk [Editorial]
Toronto Star 10/26/01
There is no need to give the justice minister such sweeping powers. There are better ways to satisfy Canada's allies that information provided to Ottawa will not be divulged. 

[ON] Province can't block Ipperwash affidavits 
Toronto Star 10/26/01
The provincial government has lost its fight to block the release of affidavits from 40 government and police officials — including one from Premier Mike Harris — about a top-level government-police meeting the day native activist Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Anti-terror bill called information 'clampdown' 
Southam News 10/23/01
The federal information watchdog has assailed proposed measures to restrict the public's right to know following last month's terrorist attacks, saying none of Canada's key allies plans to do the same. "For the Americans, it's business as usual," he said. 

Time limit essential on government secrecy [Editorial]
Vancouver Sun 10/22/01
Years from now, we'll want to look back on how we responded to this international crisis and reflect on the choices we made as a nation. However, in a little-noticed section of the federal government's mammoth new anti-terrorism bill, it will make intelligent reflection much more difficult.

Tough on Terror (Part III) [Editorial]
Ottawa Citizen 10/19/01
It's well-known that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien doesn't like Canada's access-to-information laws. But that doesn't make it right for the prime minister to use the new Anti-Terrorism Act as a means of further restricting what Canadians may know about their government.

Foreign powers urged bill's secrecy clause  
National Post 10/18/01
Anne McLellan, the Justice Minister, said yesterday pressure from foreign governments led her to include in the anti-terrorism bill a controversial clause that allows the government to keep secret indefinitely information relating to international relations, national defence and security.

The department of secrets [Op/Ed]
Ottawa Citizen 10/18/01
The anti-terrorism bill introduced in Parliament on Monday contained something that the Minister of Justice described as "a consequential amendment" to federal law -- a minor piece of housekeeping, a little fillip in the larger project of combatting terrorism. The amendment gives the Minister of Justice the untrammelled discretion to suspend rights granted by the Access to Information Act.

Art (Eggs) Eggleton making noise about red tape 
Esprit de Corps  10/16/01
Despite repeated expressions of support by the current minister, many senior Canadian Armed Forces officers oppose ATI.  It appears ATI is more of a threat to Canada's military than was Germany in two world wars.

Hypocrisy exposed 
Toronto Star  8/29/01
It was a sad little display of defiance. Yesterday on Parliament Hill, a handful of MPs led by Liberal backbencher John Bryden began public hearings on the government's Access to Information law.

PM pooh-poohs MP's review of access act 
Southam News  8/28/01
Prime Minister Jean Chretien dismissed Tuesday the efforts of backbench MPs reviewing the Access to Information Act. Chretien said the ad hoc committee set up by Liberal MP John Bryden was not an official parliamentary committee and that members would have a chance for input before legislation is passed, after the official government task force reports.

Give info watchdog more bite, expert argues 
Southam News  8/27/01
The federal information watchdog should be given the power to order the release of records under the Access to Information Act, says a leading scholar on the law.

Critics fear secrecy-loving feds planning to tighten federal access law 
Canadian Press  8/25/01
It's supposed to be a window for citizens to peer into the shadowy inner workings of government. But critics fear a planned overhaul of the federal Access to Information Act, ostensibly designed to nudge the window wider, will instead be used by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his cabinet to slam it shut.

Access to irony [Editorial]
National Post  8/23/01
No Canadian statute carries a more ironic title than the Access to Information Act, a law that reduces the amount of government information available and is debated by federal mandarins in well protected secrecy.

"Siege mentality' impedes access 
Ottawa Citizen  8/21/01
The government has developed a "culture of secrecy" or "siege mentality" over the Access to Information Act, says a new report prepared for a task force reviewing the federal law.

Chretien, cabinet live in blinkered world, says crusader for open government 
Canadian Press  8/20/01
Prime Minister Jean Chretien and other career politicians are in danger of succumbing to an elitist, "blinkered mentality" that undermines the public's right to know what government is up to, says Liberal MP John Bryden in a letter last week to Don Boudria, the government House leader in the Commons.

Pressure from tops stalls hearing 
National Post  8/20/01
An effort to open the country's access to information law to scrutiny is in peril after witnesses from the private sector and Crown agencies cancelled appearances before an all-party committee of MPs. The pullback follows a decision by Don Boudria, the government House leader, to prevent civil servants from going before the committee to answer questions.

House leader wants to muzzle committee reviewing Access to Information Act. 
Kingston Whig-Standard  8/11/01
Government House Leader Don Boudria has warned fellow Liberal MP John Bryden on Friday that any review of the Access to Information Act undertaken by Bryden's ad hoc committee would be "incomplete and unsatisfactory."

Inaccessible information [Editorial]
Toronto Star  8/9/01
When it comes to access to information, Jean Chrétien's government wants to keep even its own backbench MPs in the dark. It's forbidding government bureaucrats to talk to a group of MPs holding committee hearings on problems with the Access to Information Act.

We need open government [Editorial]
Ottawa Citizen  8/09/01
A vigorous House of Commons and an open government are essential to a healthy democracy, so it's disturbing that the prime minister is taking such an unopen approach to parliamentary efforts to make the Access to Information Act more effective.

[PEI] Environmentalist says people deserve to know about tests
CBC PEI News 7/27/01
Sharon Labchuck says Islanders deserve to know where genetically modified crops are planted. Labchuck heads an organization called Earth Action.

Secrecy surrounds GM wheat trials in PEI
CBC PEI News 7/27/01
The location of test plots for genetically modified wheat on Prince Edward Island has been kept so secret that even the provincial agriculture minister has been kept in the dark. "I absolutely think the province has a right to know," said P.E.I. Agriculture Minister Mitch Murphy.

Access laws 'threaten democracy'
Ottawa Citizen  7/26/01
Canada's access to information rules encourage elected officials and public servants to hide behind a wall of secrecy, Open Government Canada charged yesterday, as they released a report containing 47 recommendations to improve openness and public trust in government.

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Freedom of Information Coalition

Last edited: January 22, 2003

 

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