26 January 2012

The Canadian Government has been rebuked by a coalition of federal and provincial information commissioners. The Federal information Commission on behalf of 12 information agencies wrote to the Government with proposals for opening up government, pressing for greater integrity to counter growing constraints on accessing official information. Although the Conservative Government has campaigned strongly on integrity to win the last two elections, the 30 year old information legislation has been circumvented with the commissioners referring to an alarming backsliding in the availability of information.
Agencies are slow to respond to requests for information, and after long delays up to 80% of requests are not actioned. The commissioners  want “increasing public integrity” from the Government, describing this as a “grand challenge”.
Ironically the Canadian Government indicated at the Brazil conference of the Open Government Partnership in December 2011 that it is developing its open government commitments. It has announced that, at the May 2012 OGP meeting, it will join the initiating eight States in signing the Open Government Declaration –as have another 42 countries.
New Zealand and Australia which compare well internationally in the effectiveness of  access to information laws, have made no official statements about committing to the Open Government Partnership.
Canada ranks in 10th place on the TI Corruption Perceptions Index (between Australia and Luxembourg). The UK is 16th and the USA is 24th.