Access To Information Act
The Access to Information, Ethics and Privacy Committee dropped a major report last week before wrapping up for the summer. Unanimously approved by the multi-partisan committee, the report pushes the Trudeau government to make some serious and long-overdue changes to the law.
A federal study found aboriginals and the mentally ill entangled with the justice system often ran into similar difficulties.
Once a government official says a document is cabinet confidence, neither the information commissioner nor the Federal Court can look at the document to confirm that it is and that the exclusion is being applied appropriately. But this supermassive problem is not being addressed.
Unfortunately, when it comes to CSIS, Canadians can expect very little transparency, a cause for additional concern when you recall Harper eliminated the position of the CSIS watchdog in 2012. The only overview of CSIS is handled by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), a body comprised of part-time appointees with limited resources that assess CSIS operations after-the-fact.
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.
UPDATE, March 28: The Conservative Government tabled a revised version of their legal costs Thursday, bumping the total number
OTTAWA – The Conservative government has spent $482 million on outside legal fees since it came to power in 2006. And more
She ended her letter to the minister with a call to action: "It is vital for open and accountable government that, whatever the form of the entity, if it is carrying on public business, it should be subject to the [Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act]." Two and a half years later, there is still no sign of action from the government.
Though it is true that CBC/Radio-Canada was given an 'F' grade by Commissioner Legault soon after we were subjected to the Act in 2007, the Corporation has since worked very hard on multiple fronts to fix the initial challenges we faced in responding to the flood of Access to Information requests that we received.
The national police force has apparently stopped responding to Access to Information requests, and one federal department (National Defence) said it would take 1100 days (about three years) to respond to one particular request. They released the documents after the Commissioner took them to Federal Court over the delay.