CUSJ has joined over 50 Canadian civil society organisations and citizens in sending a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to renew the commitment of his government to reform Canada’s woefully outdated Access to Information Act. Notwithstanding strong pledges to amend the Act during the election campaign and afterwards, including in its 2016-2018 Open Government Partnership (OGP) action plan, the government announced two weeks ago that it was delaying the promised reforms.
“The need for reform of the Act is clear and there have been broad debates and consultations about this for years”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Democracy (CLD). “It is now time to move forward decisively with concrete changes to the Act rather than making vague claims about needing more time.”
Canada languishes at 49th place out of 111 countries on the RTI Rating, the leading global methodology for assessing the strength of access to information or right to information laws. For decades, successive Information Commissioners, Parliamentary committees, civil society actors and independent experts have been calling for reform of the Act, while governments have refused to move forward on this important democratic issue. The commitment of the Trudeau government to reform the Act was, as a result, warmly welcomed by many across the country.
The letter calls on the government to make a clear and formal commitment to move forward with the reform process and to pass amendments at the very latest by the end of 2018.