POLITICS

Access To Information Rankings: Canada Falls Behind Angola, Colombia

06/22/2012 04:50 EDT | Updated 08/22/2012 05:12 EDT
Alamy
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.

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