Friday, February 27, 2009

Watchdog attacks federal cult of secrecy

Watchdog attacks federal cult of secrecy
Access to information so limited it’s a "crisis"

OTTAWA — There are serious flaws in the administration of the federal access-to-information law, says Information Commissioner Robert Marleau.

In a scathing report, Marleau gives six of 10 federal agencies poor grades on their compliance with a law that is supposed to give the Canadian public access to government files. He calls the situation a "major information management crisis."

"There are major delays, particularly with extensions, with some institutions routinely taking months to respond to information requests," Marleau said.

"Canadians expect and deserve far greater efficiency and accountability from their government."


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Government secrecy ‘grim,' watchdog says

Government secrecy ‘grim,' watchdog says

Globe and Mail Update

OTTAWA — The federal Information Commissioner is warning that Canadians' ability to get information from their government has reached a dire state.

The Harper Conservatives now routinely delay requests for government documents – a right of Canadians under the law – well beyond the 30 days that the Access to Information Act requires.

Six out of the 10 governments departments reviewed by the commissioner's office received failing grades.

“I do believe that its results provide a grim picture of the federal government's access to information regime,” Information Commissioner Robert Marleau says in a special report to Parliament.


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Dr. Shiv Chopra - Canada's foremost Whistleblower at a Right to Know Coalition of NS events (Halifax Mar. 26th and Bible Hill Mar. 27th)

The Right To Know Coalition of Nova Scotia presents
Dr. Shiv Chopra,
Health Canada Scientist and Food Safety Whistleblower.

Halifax: Thursday, March 26th, 7:30 pm,
King's College, Alumni Hall, 6350 Coburg Rd.
Bible Hill: Friday, March 27th, 4:00 pm,
NS Agricultural College, Alumni Theatre, Cumming Hall
Are private interests impacting food and health safety? How is the Canadian government dealing with adverse or critical findings by Health Canada Scientists? How do we ensure a safe food supply for the public?

"Shiv Chopra is a Canadian hero. He was guided by science to conclusions that were not politically convenient" says Dr. David Suzuki.

Dr. Chopra and his colleague's work prevented approval of harmful drugs such as Bovine Growth Hormone, raised early attention to avoidable sources of Mad Cow Disease, questioned the Anthrax scare and warned about the myth of safe and effective vaccines.

His 2009 Corrupt to the Core, an account of how corruption is endangering the public food supply proposes "Five Pillars of Food Safety": to not employ:

Hormones, Antibiotics, Pesticides, Slaughterhouse/Rendered Animal Wastes,
OR Genetically Modified Organisms

All are welcomed to this free public presentation followed by Q&A.

The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit organization which encourages the use and development of freedom-of-information legislation to foster a better informed and more politically active electorate and to improve the quality of public and private decision making. No other Nova Scotian organization has a similar mission.

The Right to Know Coalition acknowledges the support of Public Service Alliance of Canada, Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, Nova Scotia Agricultural College and Black River Hydro Limited.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Peggy Cameron (902) 492-4372 / 456-2004 or email <> see also:
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New anti-secrecy plan surfaces on eve of damning report

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

New anti-secrecy plan surfaces on eve of damning report

OTTAWA - MPs were given a new blueprint to renovate the country's antiquated access-to-information law on the eve of a scathing report from the federal information watchdog describing a system in sorry disrepair.

A New Democrat MP introduced a private member's bill Wednesday that would adopt measures Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised more than three years ago to adopt, but has yet to act on.

The bill is based on a comprehensive package drafted in 2005 by then-information commissioner John Reid

Former Information Commissioner John Reid - image by CBC
- reforms that would make more files accessible to the public, expand the commissioner's oversight powers and introduce measures to help ensure federal agencies comply with the act.

NDP MP Pat Martin said Wednesday there is more of a need than ever to scrutinize government activities given the billions of dollars in federal stimulus spending on the books.

"This whole thing is based on the premise that people have a right to know what their government is doing."

The Conservatives took office in early 2006 partly on the strength of promises of new accountability, including reforms to Canada's outdated Access to Information regime advocated by Reid.

However, the Harper government implemented only a handful, including the law's expansion to some additional agencies such as Canada Post, the CBC and Via Rail. The issue of access reform was shunted to a Commons committee for additional study.

"Nobody's going to fall for any of these stunts anymore," Martin said. "Those of us that have been around the block a few times on this issue will not accept anything other than a comprehensive reform bill."


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Illinois Gov. Quinn orders better response to FOIA requests

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 03:  Illinois Gov. Pat Q... Illinois Governor Pat Quinn speaks to the media - Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Illinois Gov. Quinn orders better response to FOIA requests

GateHouse News Service
Posted Feb 25, 2009 @ 06:41 PM


Gov. Pat Quinn told state agency directors and state lawyers Wednesday to “take all steps necessary to make information as accessible as possible" and better comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

Quinn spokesman Bob Reed said the directive is intended to let state workers know they “should have a pro-disclosure attitude toward FOIA.”

The purpose of the act is to provide members of the public access to government records. Certain types of information, such as medical files and security information, are exempt from the act.

A common criticism is that state agencies often deny requests for information based on broad interpretations of these exemptions.

In his memo, Quinn ordered FOIA requests to be considered “in favor of disclosure” instead of secrecy.

"In particular, FOIA requests shall be complied with in full conformity with both the letter and spirit of FOIA, and no decision to withhold information sought in a FOIA request shall be made to avoid embarrassment or for any speculative or other improper purpose," he wrote.


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Solomon Islands Freedom of Information Workshop Ends

Thursday, February 26, 2009 11:02 AM

Freedom of Information Workshop Ends

The Solomon Islands from the air.Solomon Islands from the air - Image via Wikipedia

The Solomon IslandsImage via Wikipedia

Participants at the recent freedom of information workshop held in Honiara.
(Source: Photo Supplied)

The three days workshop on Freedom of Information (FOI) has come to an end yesterday at the Mendana hotel.

Ombudsman, Joe Poraiwai, thanked all the resource people and participants for their contribution, stating that the workshop will result in a draft FOI for the Solomon Islands.

Mr. Poraiwai stated that it will be the first of its kind, and will, in many ways, advance good governance in the country.

Meanwhile, Dr. Henry Ivarature, of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, stated that the FOI is an important starting point for the Solomon Islands, but the country would have to learn through others experience, to see how FOI "works on the ground."

"There needs to be a lot of work to tell people about the FOI...this is the only way to move forward," said Dr. Ivarature. Dr. Ivarature said that as partners to the project support will continue to be given to the Solomon Islands, in terms of technical advice.

Dr. Ivarature thanked the Ombudsman for the courageous steps taken, even though there may be a lack of understanding on FOI issues by the general populace and even within government.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jack Straw’s right, Cabinet Government matters

I think this is a great post to at least acknowledge the other side of the argument; that cabinet deliberations should remain out of the immediate reach of FOI.

- Greg

Jack Straw's right, Cabinet Government matters

by MatGB
February 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw meets wit...Image via Wikipedia

Jack Straw has decided not to appeal a decision and instead the Cabinet has voted, using the power allowed it by law the law, to prevent the release of documents, for the first time since the FOI Act was passed. Y'know what? I disagree with Justin, Jennieand most Lib Dems on this. He's right to do so. We can, and should, be attacking this, but not because Cabinet minutes aren't going to be released. Cabinet minutes should not be released, it's one of the basic principles of our Parliamentary democracy. Here's how it's supposed to work:

  • The House of Commons is elected as a representative cross section of British interests and opinions
  • A Cabinet is formed representing the views of enough members of the House to command a majority
    • Appointments are made based on support within the house and talent
  • The Cabinet discusses all major aspects of policy and agrees major decisions
    • The Cabinet is bound by Collective Responsibility and do not disagree in public
    • Ministers that cannot agree to a decision at all should resign
    • If the Cabinet no longer commands the support of the House, then the government should fall

In order for this system of government to work correctly, ministers have to be able to have free, open and frank discussions within Cabinet. If after discussion is over they come to a decision that a minister personally dislikes, the minister chooses whether this is a resigning issue or not. Robin Cook chose to resign before the Iraq War started. Clare Short was given assurances by the PM and had those assurances broken, so resigned after the war. That's the way it's supposed to work. That the Government didn't fall is not the fault of the Cabinet/Parliamentary system of government.

The problem lies not with the way this individual decision was made. The problem lies with the corrupted system that our Parliamentary democracy has become. This is the way it actually works:

  • The House of Commons is elected using a gerrymandered system created in 1947 that encourages:
    • an unrepresentative House with a two-party duopoly
    • A predominance of white middle class men in suits
    • Safe seats allocated by party fiat in which the rebellious are penalised
    • Party loyalty over individual thinking
  • A Cabinet is formed by the party leader, made up mostly of his/her friends or political allies
    • Appointments are made based on presentational ability and sucking up
  • The Prime Minister makes most major decisions and reveals them to Cabinet
    • Groupthink is both likely and encouraged
    • Discussion and debate is discouraged
    • Ministers who disagree with the PM are aware that challenging is a threat to their career
    • Super majorities from one party mean the Majority is rarely threatened

If a precedent is set for Cabinet minutes to be revealed during a period in office, then full and frank discussion within Cabinet is threatened. That it currently doesn't happen enough is part of the problem. If we are to retain the good aspects of the British system of Goverment, we need to get rid of the corruption and the parts that aren't working. Not attack the chances of the bits that sometimes do from happening.

British politics has allowed, over the last 60 years, to become increasingly corrupt and partisan. This is a fault of the electoral system, and specifically the introduction of uniform single member constituencies and the abolition of alternative voting methods made by the Representation of the Peoples Act 1948.

We need to remake and revitalise the Parliamentary system of government. For that to happen, we also need to examine how and why the Cabinet system works.

If it's decided that the Cabinet should have disagreements in public, that Collective Responsibility can be abolished, etc, then so be it. I can see arguments favouring that, especially in the new information age.

But to call for the abolishing of a fundamental feature of the British system, that has been working effectively for over 300 years, over a single, specific issue in which an abominable decision was made, is to throw out the baby with the rather murky bathwater.

Parliament voted for the Iraq war. The nation almost certainly opposed it. That is thereal problem. In defending the principles of our democracy, for once in his life, Jack Straw is right.

And if you think I liked typing that last sentence you really don't know me.

· About the author: Mat Bowles is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He's a house-husband and freelance marketing consultant based in Yorkshire. A member of the Liberal Democrats, he is 34 and lives with fellow conspirator Jennie Rigg. His general interest blog is currently hosted on Livejournal and his old political blog is archived at Voting TaKtiX.

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Britain Refuses To Publish Cabinet Record Of Iraq War Decision

Straw appears at a press conference with Unite...Straw appears at a press conference with United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. - Image via Wikipedia

Britain Refuses To Publish Cabinet Record Of Iraq War Decision

February 25, 2009
(RFE/RL) -- The British government says it has vetoed publication of minutes from ministerial discussions about the legality of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw used the justification of "exceptional circumstances" to prevent publication of the cabinet records under the Freedom of Information Act.

In doing so, Straw overthrew a ruling by the British Information Tribunal, which had ordered the government to make available the records in the public interest.

Some lawmakers greeted his announcement with cries of "shame!"

Straw told the House of Commons that his decision to use the veto was motivated by his desire to avoid weakening the cabinet style of government, which he described as an integral part of British democracy.

"In short, the damage that disclosure of the minutes in this instance would do would far outweigh any corresponding public interest in their disclosure," Straw said.

He said that a key feature of the cabinet style of government is that it provides a space for thought and debate in private, and that advantage of candor would be lost if ministers knew their deliberations could be made public at any time.

Normally in Britain, cabinet papers are kept closed for 30 years.


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Minnesota FOI award recognizes citizen lobbyist

FOI award recognizes citizen lobbyist

February 25, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - A nonprofit group that fights for the public's right to government information is honoring a St. Paul man for doing exactly that.

Rich Neumeister was named Wednesday as the winner of the John R. Finnegan Award, given each year by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.

The group said Neumeister has worked for 25 years as a citizen lobbyist. He's appeared before numerous legislative committees and worked with legislators on issues such as freedom of information, privacy rights and government accountability.


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Spending web sites make politicos take transparency seriously

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 28:  (L-R) Speaker of t...WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 28: (L-R) Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) hold a news conference at the U.S. Captiol September 28, 2008 in Washington, DC. The Congressional Democrats talked about the compromise legislation between Congress and the Bush Administration for the $700 billion bailout plan for the Wall Street financial crisis.Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Spending web sites make politicos take transparency seriously

By Lise Bang-Jensen
Manhattan Moment Columnist | 2/24/09 6:10 PM

Did $165 billion in taxpayer dollars disappear into the ether? Probably not, but eight top financial executives, appearing before a House committee last week, were unable to account for how they spent federal bailout money.

The episode speaks poorly for the banking industry. (Let’s hope banks are more prudent with our personal checking accounts.) It also makes government look terrible—and increases demands that the federal government track every dollar of the $789 billion stimulus plan.

Transparency has emerged as a political buzzword, but it’s not a new concept. Thomas Jefferson observed, “Information is the currency of democracy”. Two centuries later, another president, Barack Obama, has promised “an unprecedented level of openness in government”.

Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives embrace the transparency movement. As a U.S. senator, Obama joined with Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John McCain of Arizona in co-sponsoring the Federal Funding and Accountability Act of 2006. It posts federal contracts and grants on a website,

Government transparency is about more than tracking federal contracts or stimulus funds. Citizens have a right to know how every tax dollar is spent.


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Monday, February 23, 2009

the Wobbing Europe 'wobsite'

Wobbing Europe: Freedom of Information for good stories aims to inspire and support journalists to use their right of freedom of information as a journalistic tool. aims to build a network, where journalists who use freedom of information legislation can meet and exchange experiences. aims to watch developments of freedom of information legislation in order to further stronger legislation useful for journalists.

Wobbing is a verb, it is Dutch journalist’s slang expression for Freedom of Information or Access to Documents legislation. It derives from the name of the Dutch and Flemish laws: Wet van Openbaarheid van Bestuur, which means Law about the Openness of the Administration. is a trademark-protected name in the Benelux.

The Belgian Pascal Decroos Fund runs Wobbing Europe. The Pascal Decroos Fund is an independent Belgian-Flemish foundation working for special journalism and funded by the Flemish Government. It provides grants to journalists for investigative and special research projects, in print and audio-visual media in Dutch language in Belgium.
Pascal Decroos was a special journalist with special ideas. He was born in Ostend (Belgium) on 20 April 1964 and died in Brussels (Belgium) on 2 December 1997. Pascal Decroos is the exponent of a new generation of journalists. Someone with a passion for journalism and committed to the case of the weaker in our society. In the course of his professional career, Pascal Decroos earns himself the reputation of being a critical, inventive television journalist. His creed is: do not let yourself be carried along the stream of superficial news, but submerge. Do not content yourself with drawing the obvious conclusion, but investigate and probe until you find the truth.

Wobbing Europe,
Editor Brigitte Alfter

The Pascal Decroos Fund for Investigative Journalism, Director Ides Debruyne

Rozenweg 4b
B-1731 Zellik
Tel +32 2 705 59 19
fax +32 2 705 59 29
Account number 422-8004971-11
IBAN: BE30 4228 0049 7111

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Cayman Islands First Freedom of Information Unit Report on Implementation January 2009

Coat of arms of the Cayman IslandsCoat of arms of the Cayman Islands - Image via Wikipedia

Cayman Islands First Freedom of Information Unit Report on Implementation January 2009 (PDF)

The Freedom of Information Law was brought into effect on January 5th 2009. The FOI Unit will issue a monthly statistical report on implementation which will summarise the number of FOI requests received by public authorities and the decisions that were made during that month. Public authorities have up to a maximum of thirty calendar days to respond to an FOI request with a decision to grant, refuse or defer access and therefore this reporting period will not reflect decisions on all requests submitted during the month of January.

Between January 5, 2009 and January 31, 2009, eighty-eight public authorities received a combined total of one hundred and seventeen requests for information under the FOI Law.

Of the thirty-six requests that were closed in this time period, twelve were granted in full, two
were granted in part, and five were exempt in their entirety. Four applicants requested
records that were available in the public domain and eight other applicants asked for certain
information but the Information Managers determined that their public authority held no
records related to that request. Three requests were withdrawn by the applicants, one
request was refused under Section 9(c) of the FOI Law and one request was deferred under
Section 11(2).

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Lag in releasing listeriosis notes breaks information law: experts

Listeria monocytogenesListeria monocytogenes - Image by AJC1 via Flickr

Lag in releasing listeriosis notes breaks information law: experts

OTTAWA — The Harper government has delayed for months the release of notes on conference calls held at the height of last summer's deadly listeriosis outbreak - a lag some experts say breaks Ottawa's own information laws.

At issue is an Access to Information request by The Canadian Press to the Privy Council Office for "all transcripts and minutes" of the crucial exchanges last August and September.

PCO-PMOPrivy Council Office (PCO) - Image by jascha via Flickr

Officials were grappling at the time with a health crisis that sparked intense scrutiny of the national food safety system.

Twenty Canadians died after developing listeriosis, an outbreak that was traced to meat-processing equipment at a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto.

Privy Council officials at first said they had records as requested, but needed four months "to consult other government institutions" about them.

Then Ann Wesch, the access to information director for PCO, wrote a letter dated Feb. 10 stating that in fact "the records retrieved do not fall under the scope of this request. Therefore we have no records relevant to your request."

The explanation for the flip-flop? Records retrieved were handwritten notes - not minutes or transcripts, said the PCO analyst questioned about the response.

This, despite the fact that the word transcribe is in part defined in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary as "make a copy of, esp. in writing . . . write out (shorthand, notes, etc.) . . . ."

Agriculture Canada, in an apparent contradiction of PCO's interpretation, released handwritten notes in answer to an identical request for related transcripts.

Retired Col. Michel Drapeau, a lawyer who co-wrote a book on federal information laws and teaches at the University of Ottawa, was astounded by the Privy Council response.

"It is silly," he said. "I would even say it's infantile to be making this sort of distinction.

"This goes against the spirit of the act and the letter of the act."

Drapeau stressed that the Harper government's own Federal Accountability Act added the onus of a "duty to assist" for institutions that fall under the Access to Information Act.

It requires that federal officials, "without regard to the identity of the person making a request . . . make every reasonable effort to assist the person in connection with the request, respond to the request accurately and completely and, subject to the regulations, provide timely access to the record in the format requested."

What's most disturbing, says Drapeau, is the tone that the Privy Council Office is setting as the public-service standard bearer providing advice and support to the prime minister and cabinet.

"The Privy Council has a duty by virtue of its mission in life to serve as a beacon, to serve as an example, to all public servants - because this is where all authority flows from. This is why the head of the Privy Council Office is also . . . the top public servant.

"And they're setting a bad example. Simple as that."


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Friday, February 20, 2009

South West Shore Development Authority (SWSDA) tosses reporter from closed meeting

SWSDA tosses reporter from meeting...
Shelburne County Today

Despite the recent ruling by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court that the South West Shore Development Authority (SWSDA) was a public agency according to the laws of the Province and despite protests by several member politicians, CEO Frank Anderson had the Shelburne RCMP escort SCT editor and publisher Timothy Gillespie from the Shelburne meeting of the agency in Shelburne early Wednesday morning.

Anderson told Gillespie that, despite the court ruling, he considered the meeting a "private" one and not open to the public or the media. In a November, 2008 decision, Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Hood determined that, because its membership is comprised almost exclusively of elected officials and the agency's funding is almost exclusively from public funds, SWSDA is a "municipal body" and should not be exempt from legislation controlling their actions.


One SWSDA member reported that the board of directors decided at the meeting that the agency was obliged to conform to Freedom of Information requests as "municipal agency", but determined that they were not subject to public meeting legislation. "In light of the court's recent ruling," said an authority on the governing legislation," that is a patently absurd and dangerous conclusion. All of the municipalities which comprise SWSDA are now subject to almost certain legal action in the courts and to all of the costs and bad publicity that will entail."


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A fellow Canadian advocacy group worthy of note: Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of Canadian lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law by providing support internationally to human rights defenders in danger. LRWC promotes the implementation and enfosigned to protect the independence and security of human rights defenders around the world.


  • campaigns for lawyers whose rights, freedoms or independence are threatened as a result of their human rights advocacy; and,

  • produces legal analyses of national and international laws and standards relevant to human rights abuses against lawyers and other human rights defenders; and,

  • works in cooperation with other human rights organizations.

Around the world, lawyers and others who defend human rights are often singled out as targets of repression much of which is perpetrated by governments or government-controlled agencies. Criminal offences against human rights defenders occur with alarming frequency. The 2002 report of the International Commission of Jurists records reprisals against 315 lawyers and judges including 38 murders and 5 disappearances.

In addition authorities use existing laws and legal procedures to prosecute or otherwise intimidate advocates representing unpopular clients or causes, often in violation of international standards. Methods used to silence intimidate or punish advocates are often illegal pursuant to the law of the state itself.

LRWC seeks to identify illegal actions against advocates, campaign for the cessation of such actions and lobby for the implementation of effective immediate and long-term remedies.

Recent Publication in the Jurist:

Omar Khadr: Release, Repatriation, and Remedies

JURIST Special Guest Columnist Gail Davidson, Executive Director of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, says that Canada and the US are duty-bound to act immediately to ensure that Canadian Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr is released and repatriated, his rights are protected and violations of his rights are investigated and remedied, where appropriate, by

Photo of Omar Khadr, copyright released into t...Omar Khadr - Image via Wikipedia

criminal proceedings against the perpetrators....
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Nauru considers freedom of information rules

This is The Republic of Nauru. All of it.Image by Tatters :) via Flickr

Nauru considers freedom of information rules
Posted at 02:18 on 18 February, 2009 UTC

The President of Nauru says making information accessible to the public will ensure government is transparent and that the public is better able to hold government accountable.

Marcus Stephen was delivering the keynote address at the opening of a freedom of information workshop, which opened yesterday in Nauru.

Map of the island nation of the Republic of Na...Image via Wikipedia

The four day workshop has been organised by the Nauru Government, with support from the United Nations Development Programme, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

It aims to raise awareness about the value of the right to information, and to provide technical advice on what should underpin any such legislation.
Nauru is trying to eradicate the corruption that has long plagued the country.
Mr Stephen says if Nauru introduces freedom of information legislation, the island will have an additional tool in its quest to wipe out corruption.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Canadian Access-to-information laws too weak: Watchdog

Access-to-information laws too weak: Watchdog

FEBRUARY 17, 2009 3:01 PM

Canada's information commissioner of Canada, Robert Marleau
Photograph by: Kier Gilmour, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA — Canada's information commissioner says existing access-to-information laws are too weak. and lack measures that would force the federal government to hand over the records Canadians have a right to see.

Commissioner Robert Marleau will table "a shopping list of legislative amendments" next month for MPs to consider. But he says it's vital Treasury Board President Vic Toews take steps to force individual government departments to give their access-to-information offices the money and staff to fulfil their legal obligations under Canada's Access to Information Act.


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Transparency and the Web - public domain advocate Carl Malamud

w:en:Carl Malamud holding a talk at Berkeley a...Image via Wikipedia

Tuesday, February 17, 2009; A11

Transparency and the Web

Already, the struggle to digitally upgrade federal agencies seems certain to be one of the central challenges of the new administration as it seeks to create a more transparent government.

Just ask public domain advocate Carl Malamud. "I've been putting government online for ages," says the 49-year-old from Sebastopol, Calif.

Malamud first put difficult-to-access Security and Exchange Commissions records online in early 1994, ultimately leading the SEC to open up its EDGAR database by making the information available online.

Now Malamud is pushing to make "America's operating system," as he calls federal court records, no more than a Google search away.

Launched in early 2007, his nonprofit group,, has found that effort somewhat controversial, with pushback from privacy advocates and the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system that has until now had a monopoly on online access to the files, which are stored in a pay-per-page database.


Monday, February 16, 2009 is dedicated to promoting online tools for government transparency in Canada PresentationImage by jason_diceman via Flickr is a non-partisan non-profit dedicated to promoting the planning, funding, and implementation of online tools for government transparency in Canada.

See our Vision page for our view of how citizens and government could use the web to:

  • engage citizens in the democratic process
  • improve bureaucratic efficiency
  • achieve 'radical' transparency
Visit our Projects section to see what's currently on the go. Have an idea for a project? Send it to If you'd like to be involved in the planning for, join the general discussion on our newsgroup, or sign up for our mailing list for announcements.
Also, check out our Links section to see who we're inspired by -- online tools from citizen groups in other parts of the world, as well as here in Canada.

Also see: I Believe in Open
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