Delays in Access to Government Information "Alarming": Newspapers



    Information Commissioner's Report Says Slowdown is "Unacceptable"

    OTTAWA, Feb. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Access to Information Commissioner's
2007-08 "Report Cards" clearly show a worsening record of federal government
compliance with freedom of information law, the Canadian Newspaper Association
said today.
    The Report Cards, the first such annual assessment under Information
Commissioner Robert Marleau, were tabled in Ottawa today (see
www.infocom.gc.ca under News and Resources). They demonstrate that government
transparency is deteriorating, as information which the public has a right to
know is trapped in a worsening cycle of delays.
    Citing, in his introductory message, that some departments take an
average of 120 days or four times the limit stipulated in law to respond to
requests for information, the Commissioner characterized this finding as
"unacceptable."
    "What's especially alarming is that the record has been getting worse
despite explicit pledges from the Prime Minister to reverse this trend," said
David Gollob, CNA's Senior Vice President of Policy and Communications.
    "Newspapers know that delay is the weapon of choice for governments that
are nervous about the public looking over their shoulder," he said. "Delay
kills stories, by starving them of corroboration. Fortunately reporters are
resourceful and often find other ways to bring the truth to light. But it
diminishes the credibility of the government as a source when you can't get
authoritative information."
    Of ten federal departments and agencies surveyed in the report, the
Commissioner gives failing grades to six - the RCMP, the Canada Border
Services Agency, Health Canada, and the departments of National Defence,
Public Works and Foreign and International Trade, while lauding improvements
in the performance of Justice Canada.

    About the Canadian Newspaper Association
    ----------------------------------------

    The Canadian Newspaper Association is the voice of Canada's daily
newspaper industry. We promote the positive reputation of newspapers as an
essential medium that benefits all Canadians, and as an effective vehicle for
advertisers. The CNA is a vigorous champion of journalistic freedom and
democratic reform and is a valued source of industry information, trends and
best practices.




For further information:

For further information: and interviews: David Gollob, c: (613)
301-6162, dgollob@cna-acj.ca

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