ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Right-to-know law ‘has no teeth’
OTTAWA — The Harper government is ignoring urgent pleas of Canada’s Information Commissioner to fix the broken system that governs Canadians’ right to know, a regime where complying with the law is now the exception rather than the rule.
Information Commissioner Robert Marleau, calling the situation “dire” and “grim,” said a lack of leadership is leading to an access-to-information structure that is essentially falling apart through excessive delays and a law that “has no teeth.”
But in the Commons, Treasury Board President Vic Toews dodged questions about whether the government will ever deliver the access-to-information reform that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives promised in their 2006 election campaign that highlighted accountability. Mr. Toews then ducked out a back door, avoiding reporters.
In a special report, Mr. Marleau found that excessive delays are now routine, so access to timely information is denied. The act is supposed to allow any Canadian who pays a fee to get a government document within 30 days.
“It’s no longer done,” he said. “It’s not the norm. It’s the exception.”
There are “no consequences” for government officials who don’t comply with the law, Mr. Marleau said: “It has no teeth.”
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