Feds get C grade on information access

Reprinted with permission from Canadian Press

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Thursday, June 6, 2002

Staff

Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- 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.

"The report emphasizes the fragility of the public's right to know," Reid said in a statement. "This right continues to be under siege by government."

Reid also said the government's intention to reform the Access to Information Act through an insider process should be viewed with skepticism.

The government deserves points for receiving a higher number of access requests and a lower number of complaints, Reid added. Complaints about delays on dealing with requests have dropped to 28.2 per cent from 43.1 per cent.

"Overall, I give the government a C grade," Reid said. "It has shown some improvement but much more needs to be done to nurture the right of access."

 Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

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