OTTAWA - Today, at a hearing of the ad hoc "MPs on Access Committee" on Parliament Hill headed by Liberal MP John Bryden, 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. The OGC submitted its position paper on the access law and system to the Committee.
"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, who testified on behalf of OGC at the hearing. "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
internal Access to Information Review Task Force because it is made up of public
servants from departments regulated by the law, and has been acting secretively.
"John Bryden and the other MPs on the Committee are defending the public interest by legitimately challenging the federal government's manipulation of the review of the access law and system," said Maria Neil of the National Council of Women of Canada, an OGC member group. "Open mGovernment Canada applauds their efforts to force a full, open and impartial review of the many problems with access to information in the federal government."
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 MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch, Tel: (613) 241-5179
Maria Neil, National Council of Women of Canada, Tel: (613) 233-6429
Open Government Canada
Box 6300, Station A