Information Commissioner calls for Access to Information overhaul

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Originally posted on J-Source

By Grant Buckler

As Canada’s Access to Information Act marks its 30th anniversary on Canada Day, federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is calling for the act to be overhauled to make all institutions that spend taxpayers’ money – including Parliament – accountable.

“If Parliament is serious about transparency and accountability,” Legault wrote in an op-ed piece in the Toronto Star Thursday, “it must not only proactively disclose much more information regarding the expenses and allocations of parliamentarians, it must also subject itself to the Access to Information Act.”

Legault wrote that she plans to submit recommendations to Parliament this fall on amending and modernizing the act.

“There was a time when much of the world looked to Canada as a leader in access legislation,” Legault wrote. “Let me share a sobering statistic with you. According to an international survey conducted by the Centre for Law and Democracy, we now rank 55th out of 93 nations. This is in some part due to the limited coverage of the act.”

Legault cited concerns raised by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC).

Earlier this year, as J-Source reported, CJFE submitted a report, A Hollow Right: Access to information in crisis, to Legault’s office as part of her national consultation on the act. CIPPIC also made a submission to that consultation.