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.'