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Canada: Submission to the UPR on the Right to Information

5 April 2023.

The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), in collaboration with the Centre for Free Expression (CFE), the Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies (CIIPS) and Democracy Watch, has made a Submission to Session 44 of the Universal Periodic Review on the Right to Information in Canada, a process which is overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The entire Submission focuses on problems with the federal right to information (access to information) system in Canada, which has been broken for many years now.

“Stakeholders from almost every sector agree that the right to information system in Canada is fundamentally broken, despite some modest improvements with Bill C-58, and that root and branch reform of the legislation is needed,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “We hope that this Submission will attract the attention of some States and that a recommendation will be put to Canada on this issue, something which has not happened at previous UPR reviews of Canada.”

The Submission outlines the numerous problems with Canada’s right to information regime, from the many public authorities which are not covered by it, to procedural problems, in particular leading to delays in responding to requests, to the significantly overbroad regime of exceptions. These issues have been highlighted by civil society, the Information Commissioner of Canada and parliamentary committees quite literally for decades now. It is high time the government took note of this serious shortcoming in Canadian democracy and acted decisively to address it.

“For years, Canada’s federal Access to Information Act has fallen far short of international standards, much less international best practices,” said James Turk, Director of CFE. “This Review provides an opportunity for the Canadian law’s serious shortcomings to be corrected – corrections badly needed.”

The full submission is available here.

For further information, please contact:

Toby Mendel                                                            James Turk
Executive Director                                                    Director
Centre for Law and Democracy                               Centre for Free Expression
Email: toby@law-democracy.org                             jim@jameslturk.com
+1 902 431-3686                                                     +1 613 277-0488
www.law-democracy.org                                         https://cfe.torontomu.ca
Twitter: @law_democracy

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