No doubt the government of the day has the right to legislate and to remake policy, but eroding Ottawa’s shaky information management practices further for political reasons is not without penalties and does have some far-reaching negative consequences.
The International Conference of Information Commissioners held in Ottawa last week helped illustrate just how far behind Canada has fallen in progressive access to information circles. It’s not good.
The time to push for transparency is in the first year of a new government's mandate.
The 2006 background checking guidelines, obtained from PCO under the Access to Information Act, do apply to advisers to the PCO as well as Cabinet ministers, Supreme Court justices and very senior officials. And they do include checking criminal and polic
Outrage over excessive secrecy and what to do about it has become pure theatre in Ottawa, especially in a super-charged election atmosphere. Don't expect now that any of the parties intend to do much to change excessive secrecy in Ottawa.
There is no doubt that Canada's ranking would be near the bottom. But this begs the question: did Canada ever rank near the top or really have progressive access legislation?
Making as much government data available to the public as possible through a searchable online free of charge site at 'opendata.gc.ca' seems to be the current hip flavour for making transparent government happen.
And as harsh as Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report was on Christiane Ouimet, it took too long to come to this conclusion.
Expect more team-player replacements and less critical analyses of how Ottawa operates.
The Harper government has been engaged in aggressively fighting to cut back on mandatory record collection and record keeping.
Canada is now consistently nearer the bottom on international openness ratings.
This warrants a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee inquiry and an auditor general report.
The real shame is that the House Access Committee has side-stepped and steered away from its earlier intent for a comprehensive review for 'stronger and more modern' access legislation.
Talk of 'modernizing' Access to Information Act will not necessarily mean a huge increase in disclosure.
There's little thought to boosting the level of accountability and transparency needed in global economic crisis.
Does the 'no-surprise' prospective coalition accord clause mean they agreed to even greater secrecy surrounding government operations? That's not entirely clear.
His government inserted an upbeat clause about the duty to assist. But then it promptly looked the other way as access service deteriorated.
A February 2007 memo calls for Ottawa 'to ensure that the event reflects the priorities of the government and helps to achieve its domestic and international branding goals.'
On Sunday, Aug. 23 Ottawa celebrated its 30th annual pride march through downtown. All four main political parties had a contingent in the parade, with the Liberals first in the line of marchers. Here Orleans candidate Andrew Leslie and a slightly hidden Ottawa South MP David McGuinty walk together, alongside dozens of supporters.
More Liberal supporters march in the parade. Liberal MPP for Ottawa Centre Yasir Naqvi, Ottawa-West Nepean candidate Anita Vandenbeld, Kanata-Carleton candidate Karen McCrimmon, and Hull-Alymer candidate Greg Fergus were marching too.
The local Green party contingent in the parade threw their support around Kanata-Carleton candidate Andrew West.
The New Democrats making their way onto the parade route, flanked by local unions UFCW Locals 175 & 633, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).
NDP candidate for Orleans Nancy Tremblay was all smiles next to Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar.
Paul Dewar and the NDP supporters were yelling "Happy Pride" as they marched. Carleton candidate kc Larocque, Kanata-Carleton candidate John Hansen, Ottawa South candidate George Brown, and Nepean candidate Sean Devine were there, too.
Despite a petition looking to ban the LGBTory contingent from marching in the parade, about two-dozen supporters took part, holding signs that included "I kissed a Tory and I liked it," and "I am Conservative, I support trans rights." The latter was inspired by backlash over Bill C-279, the trans bill of rights that was killed by Conservative Senators during the last session of Parliament.
Nepean Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod, and Ottawa Centre federal candidate Damian Konstantinakos (far right) were the only politicians The Hill Times spotted among the LGBTory contingent.
Ontario Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod. She also marched earlier this summer in the Toronto Pride Parade alongside Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown.
The LGBTorys were joined by Melissa Hudson, the chair of Trans-Action Group, a non-profit focused on Transgender health and employment. As well, some marchers carried signs, seen above, that list the 18 federal MPs past and present who "stand with" the LGBTorys.
The LGBTory contingent calls themselves the 'Rainbow Conservatives of Canada" according to a handout they had at their tent set up as part of the street fair alongside the parade. All parties had sign-up lists at their booths, looking to gain supporters and volunteers. On the handout, it says they want to "break the left wing monopoly on the LGBT community," and includes quotes from former Foreign Affairs minister John Baird, and former VP of the Ottawa Centre Conservative Association Fred Litwin.