Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is taking the great step of being an active good government watchdog by undertaking a review of the federal Access to Information Act. This is not only proper as she is required to report to Parliament about how the law isworking, it is also needed.
Under the Act (ss. 75(1), a House or Senate Committee is supposed to consistently review the act, but nothing has been done for the past three years, and no past reviews have resulted in any changes to strengthen the law and enforcement.
The federal Conservatives did not include any proposals for changes in their so-called action plan for the next three years for the international Open Government Partnership, and broke almost all of their 2006 election promises to strengthen the law and enforcement.
Similar past broken promises and ineffective actions by politicians from all parties have resulted in repeated failures to strengthen the access law over the past 30 years to help end the excessive, and often illegal secrecy that is rampant in the federal government.
P.S. Michel Drapeau, quoted in the recent CP article
review, is completely incorrect when he claims that the review is
outside the legal mandate of the Information Commissioner — please see subsection 39(1) of the act set out below which gives the commissioner the clear power to do special reports that contain recommendations to solve problems with the act and its enforcement (in addition to her powers under section 38 to issue an annual report to Parliament in which she is also, of course, allowed to set out proposals for improvements).
co-ordinator of Democracy Watch,
chairperson of the Open Government Coalition