Together with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Newspapers Canada, FIPA planned to ask the federal parties to describe what they would do to repair and improve transparency policies and practices. This effort quickly expanded to include 22 transparency organizations from across the country.
Jointly with all of those groups, FIPA developed and signed a joint statement, which called on federal party leaders to commit to a comprehensive review of the Access to Information Act and to support four specific reforms:
- giving Canada’s Information Commissioner order-making power,
- expanding the scope of the Act to cover all public bodies,
- limiting the regime of exceptions, and
- creating a legal duty to document decision-making processes.
Following the release of the statement, we were pleased to see the NDP and Liberals include commitments in their platforms to improve the Act. Green Party leader Elizabeth May sent a tweet expressing support for transparency, but the party’s platform contained only a general commitment to improving the access law. And unfortunately, the Conservative Party did not see fit to even mention access to information in its platform.
While no party committed fully to all four points, the NDP platform made promises in all four areas while the Liberals committed to fulfil two, and have also promised to institute regular reviews of the Act. Both the NDP and Liberals have also committed to eliminating all access fees beyond the initial $5 requesting fee.
Now that a Liberal majority government has been elected, FIPA will be reminding them of their commitments, and pushing for much-needed, urgent action to improve the right to information in this country, and bring the Access to Information Act in line with international standards.