Four in Ten (40%) Believe Feds Have Struck the Right Balance between
Restricting Access and Sharing Government Information
TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2011 /CNW/ - A majority (60%) Canadians believe the
federal government makes it too difficult to access government
information, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of
the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF). The national Freedom of
Information Act allows any Canadian citizen or journalist to request
access to federal government information, which is often deemed
confidential by government, but even with this law most believe the
federal government deliberately restricts information.
Suzanne Legault, the Information Commissioner of Canada, will address
the issue of information access at a CFJ Forum Freedom (Or Not) of Information at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 22 at the University of Toronto's Innis
Town Hall. After her presentation, she will join a discussion with Jim
Bronskill, an investigative reporter with The Canadian Press and Paul
Schabas, a media lawyer with Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto.
The discussion will be moderated by veteran parliamentary reporter and
columnist Hugh Winsor.
According to the poll, six in ten (60%) believe that 'the federal
government, under the direction of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has
made it deliberately and unnecessarily difficult for journalists and
citizens to get information held by the government they deem to be
confidential'. Men (65%) are more likely than women (54%) to believe
the government makes it too difficult to access information, as are
those aged 18 to 34 (68%) when compared to those aged 35 to 54 (58%)
and 55+ (54%). Quebecers (69%) are most likely to agree, followed by
those living in Ontario (59%), Atlantic Canada (58%), British Columbia
(57%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (52%), and only a minority of
Conversely, four in ten (40%) more closely believe that 'the federal
government has struck the right balance in restricting some requests
from journalists and citizens to get information held by the
government'. Women (46%) are more likely to think so than men (35%), as
are older (46%) and middle-aged (42%) people compared to younger (32%)
adults. A majority (53%) of Albertans believe the government has struck
the right balance, while only a minority of those living in
Saskatchewan and Manitoba (48%), British Columbia (43%), Atlantic
Canada (42%), Ontario (41%), and Quebec (31%) believe so.
Reflecting on whether journalists in Canada have too much, not enough or
just about the right amount of freedom to information from the federal
government, half (47%) believe journalists have just the right amount
of access, while four in ten (40%) believe they don't have enough
freedom. Just one in ten (13%) think that journalists in Canada have
too much freedom when it comes to accessing government information.
Seven in ten (71%) 'agree' (24% strongly/47% somewhat) that 'journalists
should have access to government information on request even though
politicians say it is not in the national interest for them to do so'.
Just three in ten (29%) 'disagree' (7% strongly/23% somewhat) that they
should. Furthermore, three quarters (76%) 'agree' (29% strongly/47%
somewhat) that 'journalists should have access through the national
Freedom of Information law to most of the details about what the
government does, such as what is contained within a cabinet minister's
briefing memos'. Just one quarter (24%) 'disagree' (6% strongly/18%
somewhat) with this premise.
Canadians are split on whether the 'government routinely provides
journalists with timely access to government files', with one half
(49%) 'agreeing' (7% strongly/42% somewhat) that it does, and the other
half (51%) 'disagreeing' (16% strongly/35% somewhat) that the
government routinely provides this sort of access.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf
of the Canadian Journalism Foundation between November 18 and 21, 2011.
For this survey, a national sample of 1,015 adults from Ipsos' Canadian
online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to
balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects
that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide
results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an
unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response
rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points
19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire
population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and
polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not
limited to, coverage error and measurement error.
For full tabular results, please visit www.ipsos.ca. News Releases are available at: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/
SOURCE News - Media
For further information:
on this news release, please contact:
Senior Vice President
Canadian Journalism Foundation
(416) 955-0394 x502