CAJ condemns government delays of sensitive access to information requests



    OTTAWA, Sept. 3 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is
denouncing a federal government practice of "amber-lighting" or "red-flagging"
potentially embarrassing access-to-information requests, especially those from
journalists.
    "Red-flagging certain requests for delay completely undermines the spirit
of legislation that's meant to protect the public's right to know," said CAJ
President Mary Agnes Welch. "We agree with the Canadian Newspaper Association
- the country's access regime is in crisis."
    Spurred by a complaint from the Canadian Newspaper Association, Canada's
information commissioner recently completed a three-year investigation into
the practice of singling out and delaying requests for politically sensitive
documents. He found the release of the documents is often delayed so they can
be given extra attention by senior bureaucrats and communications staff.
    The federal information commissioner found the practice "creates unfair
and unjustifiable delays" in processing the requests. While the information
commissioner stated requests from journalists aren't singled out for extra
delay, an independent review of access requests conducted for the CNA found
that in practice they are subject to more delays, more deletions and other
obstacles.
    The CAJ calls on the federal government to stop singling out requests,
and apply our access-to-information law as it was intended: without
discrimination.

    The CAJ is Canada's largest professional organization for journalists
from all media, with about 1,500 members across Canada. The CAJ's primary
roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and
public-interest advocacy.





For further information:

For further information: Mary Agnes Welch, CAJ president, (204)
943-6575, Cell: (204) 470-8862; John Dickins, CAJ executive director, (613)
526-8061, Cell: (613) 868-5442; Sue Montgomery, CAJ board member, (514)
248-1928


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