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Attention News Editors: 

Coalition calls for open review of Access to Information system, and open government reforms

OTTAWA, July 25 /CNW/ - Today, the Open Government Canada (OGC) coalition called for extensive reforms to the federal Access to Information Act (ATI Act) and access system and the federal government's process for reviewing the law. At a news conference, OGC released its position paper on the review, entitled From Secrecy to Openness: How to Strengthen Canada's Access to Information System. 

"The current federal access to information system actually encourages secretive and unaccountable behaviour by Cabinet ministers and public officials," said Duff Conacher, a member of the OGC Steering Committee and Coordinator of Democracy Watch. "Many changes are needed to end the government's culture of secrecy that threatens our democracy." 

The OGC position paper sets out 47 recommendations for changes to the federal access to information system, including the following main proposals: 

In addition, the OGC paper criticizes the government's current Access to Information Review Task Force because it is made up of public servants from departments which are in a fundamental conflict of interest because they are regulated by the law, it has failed to disclose key information such as the results of its research, and it has failed to consult in a meaningful and open way with Canadians. 

"The government is trying to manipulate the review of access to information issues to entrench government secrecy," said Conacher. "A more independent body should be empowered to conduct an open, full and fair review of the access system." 

Open Government Canada is a nation-wide coalition of non-profit groups fighting government secrecy and pushing for greater access to public information. OGC groups represent citizens, journalists, librarians and lawyers. 

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For further information: 

Contact: 
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179

Mike Gordon, Chairman of Open Government Canada
(416) 205-6635
mgordon@opengovernmentcanada.org
Box 6300, Station A
Toronto, ON
M5W 1P7

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