Transparency at risk: Amendments to the Access to Information Act

The federal Government of Canada has tabled a bill that seeks to make significant changes to what they insist is antiquated legislation; the Access to Information Act.

Estimated reading time for article: 2 mins

By James Johnson

And though not wrong (the bill came into being in 1983) there are several problems with the new changes. The bill is promoted as modernized, transparent, and trust-building for Canadians and their Government. But according to the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada, the bill would effectively regress our quasi-constitutional rights.

In her report released in September 2017, the Commissioner makes several recommendations that would increase facilitation for Canadians in accessing the information that rightfully belongs to them, and asserts that if the Bill were to go forward as is, there would be democratic ramifications.

In order for a citizenry to actively take part in the governance of their society there must be made available to them the information to make informed decisions. It’s why we have libraries. It is one of the fundamental concepts of the library. It’s a pillar of civilization that supports our modern freedoms today.

I won’t explain specifically why Bill C-58 is detrimental to Canadians. The Commissioner’s report is thorough and in a language all can understand. But what I will say is this:

It is so important for all of us to fight for each other’s rights to access public information. A huge part of this fight is monitoring what Bills our elected officials table. Continue to inform yourself on the happenings of parliament. Read the daily or weekly periodicals at your local library branch. Do your research and be sure to write to your MP’s. Let them know what’s important to you. Be an active, engaged, and informed citizen.

A good place to start is here. This resource is awesome. I mean, super awesome. Everything you need to know about your elected official, what they do and what they say within their official capacities, is available for your information. Seriously, check it out.

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