Saturday, July 01, 2006

Recent Library of Parliament Publications on Access to Information

I happen to be browsing through Blacked Out : Government Secrecy in the Information Age, a book by Syracuse University professor Alaisdair Roberts.

The book refers quite frequently to Canada's Access to Information Act, which has been the object of many proposals for reform in recent years.

The Library of Parliament has published a number of studies on the topic recently:
  • The Access to Information Act and Recent Proposals for Reform (February 6, 2006): "It is widely agreed that, after more than 20 years in operation, the Access to Information Act should be updated. The Conservative, New Democratic and Bloc Québécois parties all included access to information reform in their platforms for the 2006 election. The legislation is recognized as a critical element of the transparency and openness in government that is necessary to the proper functioning of Canada’s parliamentary democracy. Justice John Gomery, in the Phase 2 report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities, Restoring Accountability, acknowledged the importance of the legislation, saying that 'an appropriate access to information regime is a key part of the transparency that is an essential element of modern public administration'. The Act has been reviewed many times since its inception, giving rise to a significant accumulation of reform proposals. This paper identifies the key points emerging from the major studies of the Act that have been conducted over the last two decades, and analyzes in some detail the most recent proposals concerning the legislation."
  • Access to Information Legislation in Canada and Four Other Countries (April 6, 2006): "This paper briefly considers the freedom of information statutes in place in four other jurisdictions: the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. These countries were selected for comparison because they were identified in then-Justice Minister Irwin Cotler’s April 2005 document entitled A Comprehensive Framework for Access to Information Reform: A Discussion Paper as being those which might be most appropriately considered in preparing for reform of the ATIA. These countries’ access to information schemes are useful for the purpose of comparison with Canada’s because all four countries have Westminster-style parliamentary systems, and their access regimes have been developed at varying points during the ATIA’s 23-year history."
  • Bill C-2: The Federal Accountability Act - Legislative Summary (April 21, 2006): "Bill C-2, An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability (the Federal Accountability Act) was given first reading in the House of Commons on 11 April 2006. The bill makes a series of amendments to existing legislation and proposes two new Acts, in diverse areas that are generally linked to political accountability. (...) Amendments to the Access to Information Act extend its application to 15 Officers of Parliament, Crown corporations and foundations, and also establish new exemptions or exclusions relating to the added entities." [Note: the progress of Bill C-2 can be followed using the Library of Parliament's LEGISinfo service]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:01 pm


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