OTTAWA - As the 30th anniversary of the federal Access to Information law approaches, Canada finds itself tied for 51st in the world on a list of freedom-of-information rankings, languishing behind Angola, Colombia and Niger.
After some number-crunching to standardize findings, it turns out Canada is even lower on the list — 11 spots to be exact — than when it was first published last September as part of a groundbreaking project by Halifax-based Centre for Law and Democracy and Access Info Europe of Madrid.
The Access to Information Act, which took force on July 1, 1983, allows requesters who pay $5 to request a variety of records in federal files — from correspondence and reports to briefing notes and hospitality receipts.
Departments and agencies are supposed to respond within 30 days, but often take extensions of up to half a year or more. Often little information is released even after a lengthy wait.
There have been repeated calls from pro-democracy groups and the federal information commissioner's office to modernize the act for the 21st century.
In October 2009, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson rejected a Commons committee's call to update the access law, saying it was a strong piece of legislation.
Who Gets The Most Canadian Foreign Aid?
Here's a look at the top 10 recipients of Canadian development assistance. All figures in U.S. dollars, <a href="http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/42/21/44284003.gif" target="_hplink">info from the OECD</a>.
10. Bangladesh - $69 Million
(AP Photo/ Saiful Haq Omi)
9. Pakistan - $72 Million
(AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)
8. Mozambique - $79 Million
(AP Photo/Louise Sherwood)
7. Mali - $90 Million
6. Tanzania - $103 Million
(AP Photo/Khalfan Said)
5. Sudan - $107 Million
(AP Photo/Pete Muller)
4. Ghana - $107 Million
(AP Photo/Olivier Asselin, File)
3. Ethiopia - $114 Million
An Eritrean woman cooks Ijara (an Ethiopian dish) in the Mai-aini refugee camp in northern Ethiopia, Friday, July 29, 2011 .(AP Photo/Luc van Kemenade)
2. Afghanistan - $250 Million
AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
1. Haiti - $289 Million
(AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)