[Democracy Watch Logo] [Op-ed]

Problems with federal access-to-government-information system would be solved if Conservatives had kept their 2006 election promises

Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Coordinator Duff Conacher which was published in the January 25, 2011 issue of the Ottawa Citizen, and in the January 27, 2011 issue of the New Brunswick Times and Transcript

All problems with the federal access-to-government-information law and system would essentially be solved if the Conservatives had kept their 2006 election promises to change the law to require all government and government-funded institutions to create records detailing all their actions and decisions (as in the UK, U.S., Australia and New Zealand), and to give the Information Commissioner the power to order the disclosure of any record (as in the UK, B.C., Ontario and Quebec), especially if it is in the public interest and would not cause any actual harm to anyone or any organization (as in B.C. and Alberta).

And if the law was changed to give the Information Commissioner the power she wants, to limit extensions and to issue orders that would resolve disputes over search fees and delays.  And if, finally, the Commissioner was given the power to fine violators, and to require systemic changes by government institutions to improve access (as in the UK).

Make these changes, which the Open Government Coalition has been pushing for the past decade, and the federal government will have an open government law and enforcement system, not the current "guide to keeping secrets" law and system.

Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Chairperson of the Open Government Coalition

For more details, go to Democracy Watch's Report Card on the Conservatives' accountability and democratic reform record, and to the Open Government Campaign page