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Canada: Stumbles Badly on Access to Information Reforms

Canada’s proposals to reform its Access to Information Act, Bill C-58, which have now been passed by the House of Commons and are before the Senate, can only be described as massively disappointing. The Government has completely reneged on its promises to extend coverage of the Act to the Prime Minister, Ministers, Parliament and courts, and delivered only partially on other promises, such as to abolish all fees and give the Information Commissioner order making powers.

In September, CLD joined over 60 other Canadian organisations and individuals calling on the government to scrap Bill C-58 and to come up with proposals that represent a serious attempt to address the crisis undermining our right to know ”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “Unfortunately, that did not happen and the House of Commons has failed to make meaningful changes to the extremely weak government draft.

CLD’s latest analysis of the Bill, released today, shows that almost none of the issues raised in our earlier assessments have been addressed in the current version of the Bill. Indeed, we identify only one notable improvement over the original draft. The current analysis updates our June 2016 submission at the start of the reform process, setting out what we believe needs to be changed in the Act, and our June 2017 analysis of the Bill originally tabled in Parliament.

Canadians have been waiting, quite literally, for decades for proper reform of the Access to Information Act. The last chance for this to happen at this point is if the Senate takes its job seriously and introduces major changes to the current version of Bill C-58.

The CLD analysis is available at: Note on Bill C-58 amending the Access to Information Act

For further information, please contact:

Portia Karegeya
Legal Officer
Centre for Law and Democracy
Email: portia@law-democracy.org
+1 424 325-8650
twitter: @law_democracy

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