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OTTAWA - It's been said the wheels of justice turn slowly, and a new look at Canada's creaky access-to-information system appears to bear that out.According to data collected as part of a Liberal ques...
Any delay in the Commissioner's office means information requesters will have to wait even longer to get their documents. It also means that if the government digs in its heels, requesters can't even get their day in Federal Court until the Commissioner's office finishes its review of the file.
Delays and fees in Freedom of Information requests are reaching such ridiculous proportions that if you didn't laugh you'd cry. And worst of all, our various rulers are more than happy to continue blocking our information rights, seeming to believe they will have no price to pay. But there are a number of potential cracks in the wall of secrecy at both the federal and provincial levels.
Shhhhh. Don't tell anybody, but the Harper™ government is 'consulting' Canadians on Open Government. Well, sort of. There has been no press release about the consultation program. No ad campaign, either. And the program was quietly started in the middle of summer, while everyone was on vacation. It's almost as if Harper doesn't want anyone to know about it. Crazy talk, right?
After 65 years, Canada doesn't do too badly on the right to speak freely, but terribly when it comes to the flow of information from our governments about what they have done. Proud Canadians should blush in horror when they learn that last year the country ranked number 55 out of 93 countries that have laws that allow requests for documents about what their governments have done. Canada ranks so low because our law passed 31 years ago needs a major overhaul. Journalists, people interested in public policy, and others have been asking for years for changes to make the law and the Access to Information (ATI) process really work. Why?
Treasury Board President Tony Clement is the federal government's Mr. Open Government, but in many ways, his much-hyped open data schemes testify to the Conservative government's general trend toward secrecy and one-way transparency.
Federal budget cuts will lead to the elimination of the Interlibrary Loan Department, which gives British Columbians access to national archival collections housed in Ottawa. Without this service, Canadians living and researching anywhere outside the capital region will have to physically visit those collections on their own dime -- a pricey pill that many simply can't afford to swallow.