Canadian Political Parties Criticized for Silence on FOI

8 April 2011

Three Canadian groups have asked the political parties to say what they will do to fix an access to information system that the groups say is “in chaos.”

“In the campaign so far, politicians have used words like open government, transparency and democracy,” said Troy Lanigan of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, “but they say almost nothing about Access to Information. Without a functioning ATI system, those words ring very hollow.”

The letter was sent by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the British Columbia  Freedom of Information and Privacy Association and Newspapers Canada,  asking the parties “to spell out what they will do to combat an already a disastrous situation,” according to an April 6 press release on the letter.

“The Information Commissioner has said the system has hit rock bottom, and that should have alarm bells going off,” said FIPA’s Vincent Gogolek. “In an election where democracy is supposedly a major issue, the leaders have said virtually nothing about this undermining of Canadians’ right to information.”

According to the press release: “In the past decade alone a number of studies by parliamentary committees, by a series of Information Commissioners and various task forces and independent groups, have pointed to the serious problems with the ATI system. Former Information Commissioner Robert Marleau said the situation amounts to ‘a major information management crisis throughout government.’ ”

 “The current state of the Access to Information system is unacceptable,” said John Hinds of Newspapers Canada. “This is not a matter of debate, it is a fact and those who would be our leaders have to address this.”

The letter asks the party leaders to respond by April 18.

For a media report on the letter and what the political parties have said in the past see this article.

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