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International Right to Know Day Activities

The Centre for Law and Democracy is this year celebrating International Right to Know Day, 28 September, by undertaking a few different activities. We are hosting an Ask Me Anything on Reddit on the theme of the Day, with support from colleagues in Argentina (CELE), South Africa (ODAC), Spain (AIE), Tunisia (GoAct) and Uganda (Catherine Anite). In previous years, we have had a huge response to these events.

We are also launching our report, Canada: Civil Society Parallel Assessment of Compliance with Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 16.10.2. The report, based on a methodology prepared by FOIAnet, assesses the performance of ten Canadian public authorities in terms of implementation of the right to information. The methodology, as well as reports by other FOIAnet member organisations in countries around the world, can be found at: http://foiadvocates.net/?page_id=11036.

Our assessment shows that the ten public authorities did reasonably well in terms of proactive disclosure and institutional measures (such as appointing information officers)”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “But they did a lot less well when it came to responding to requests for information, which is at the heart of any right to information system.

Finally, CLD has spearheaded a joint letter signed by some 35 organisations and 25 individuals to Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board, about the unacceptably weak proposals of the government, in the form of Bill C-58, to reform Canada’s right to information law, the Access to Information Act. Treasury Board is the ministry which is responsible for the right to information in Canada. Despite bold promises by the government to make public authorities “open by default”, the proposals address only one of the demands of civil society for reform of the Act, namely by giving order-making powers to the Information Commissioner. They fail to address other issues such as long delays in processing requests and a significantly overbroad regime of exceptions. Bill C-58 even fails to implement the government’s long-standing promise to expand the scope of coverage of the Act to Ministers’ offices and courts.

CLD’s report on implementation of SDG16.10.2 is available at: https://www.law-democracy.org/live/parallel-report-on-canadas-compliance-with-sdg-16-10-2/

The joint letter to the Canadian government on its proposals to reform the Access to Information Act is available at: https://www.law-democracy.org/live/letter-to-the-president-of-the-treasury-board-demanding-access-to-information-reform/

Bill C-58 is available at: https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-58/.

For further information, please contact:

Toby Mendel
Executive Director
Centre for Law and Democracy
Email: toby@law-democracy.org
+1 902 431-3688

twitter: @law_democracy

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