||FOI / RTI Reform
Canada needs to become more transparent
Canada needs to drastically improve its freedom of information (FOI) / right to information (RTI) legislation. Its existing legislation is too much a secrecy act and not working well, contrary to the myths officials put forward. It may be necessary tactically to go after selective changes to overcome such resistance but the object is to move towards, not away from, achieving greater transparency. So far, the new government under Justin Trudeau has yet to pass a full transparency bill.
A broader transparency bill needs to feature a pro active disclosure code and agreements and draw from other countries. Back in 2009, I had presented to a parliamentary committee a model FOI/RTI bill that mostly addressed gaining better access to government information.
Two suggested recent FOI reform efforts, one in the form of a private members bill by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, the other in the form of a special report by Canada's Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, fall far short. Recent legislation such as the anti terrorist act, Bill C-51, significantly adds to and enhances secrecy practices in Canada. Canada can learn from other countries adopting FOI/RTI legislation and from under way international efforts at achieving greater transparency.
For FOI / RTI reform to occur, there needs to be both the will to do so and commitment and a natural desire to know, to be curious. We cannot have a right to know without citizenry who value their rights to freedom of expression and have a critical desire to inform and be informed.
My career has been built around testing the public's right to know and getting that right dramatically improved. I challenge all of us to take up the cause of a more transparent society. I'm still there to be an information warrior along with you
"He doggedly pushed for information rights,
never letting up on those who could make changes
to policy or to legislation that improve the access
of citizens to the information they needed as well
as paid for.
And Ken has never let up.
Ken's expertise also made him an indispensable
investigator for those seeking to gain full
disclosure that Canadians have a right to
Canadians owe him more than
they can imagine".
Dr. Kirsten Kozolanka
School of Journalism and Communications
August 1, 2015
"Mr. Rubin reflects an attitude of professionalism
and compassion in his approach to reporting.
He exemplifies a ruthless approach to research,
a broad interest in Canadian policies, and an
insistence on an open and ethical treatment
of information in Canada".
Former Chair of the House Of Commons Standing Committee
on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics
August 13, 2015
Liberals after Year One: Not much transparency despite talk - Ottawa Citizen
Government transparency is still an elusive commodity", Ken Rubin, Hill Times, Nov 28/16 p. 10
Remaking and Replacing the Antiquated
Limited Broken Access to Information Acts
Ken Rubin, Submission to the House of
Commons Access to Information, Privacy
and Ethics Committee, April 21, 2016
Open government promise rings
hollow, Ken Rubin, Citizen, April 1/16 on-line
Trudeau's off to slow, weak start on
transparency record, Ken Rubin,
Hill Times, Jan 17/16 p. 14
Secrecy happenings and transparency
hopes, Ottawa needs to open up',
Ken Rubin, Hill Times, March 7/16 p.45
Wake up: Bill C-51 erodes our rights, transparency, privacy protection", Ken Rubin, Hill Times, March 16/15 p. 13
Justin Trudeau: A sunny positive tone but is it a transparent one?, Ken Rubin, Hill Times, November 2, 2015 p.16
Shining Light On Justin Trudeau's stand on transparency", Ken Rubin, Hill Times, Dec 8/14 p. 14
Legault's access reforms aren't going to move Harper government", Ken Rubin, Hill Times, April 6/15 p. 17
The Myth of Access to Information, January 2011
FOI / RTI Realities Hinder But Do Not Stop Consideration of Reforms
Model Bill for Better Public Access in Ottawa
Projet de loi modele pour un meilleur acces a l’information
Restructurer et remplacer la Loi sur l'accès à l'information