Ottawa- The Canadian Press
Jan. 09, 2011
A new study ranks Canada dead last in an international comparison of freedom-of-information laws – a hard fall after many years being judged a global model in openness.
The study by a pair of British academics looked at the effectiveness of freedom-of-information laws in five parliamentary democracies: Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Canada.
New Zealand placed first and Canada last.
“Above all, an effective FOI regime requires strong government commitment and political will. Officials cannot do it on their own,” says the paper, published in the journal Government Information Quarterly.
“Canada comes last as it has continually suffered from a combination of low use, low political support and a weak Information Commissioner since its inception.”
The study, by Robert Hazell and Ben Worthy of University College in London, ranked countries based on official statistics on appeals, court decisions, delays and other factors affecting the release of government information to public requesters.
The authors criticized Canada FOI law as an antiquated system that generally prevents citizens from filing requests electronically and compels them to submit paper cheques to cover fees.
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