A close look at government secrecy

A close look at government secrecy by Robert Cribb, with files from Fred Vallance-Jones and Jason van Rassel, Calgary Herald, September 22, 2007
When journalists from across Canada asked government officials for 85 public records ranging from court documents to local water quality reports to federal food safety warnings, the answer was no nearly half the time. Even after filing formal written requests under information laws, journalists were still unable to pry basic public records from government filing cabinets in 41 per cent of cases. In Calgary, government agencies denied two of three requests the Herald made as part of the Canadian Newspaper Association’s third National Freedom of Information Audit. The findings illustrate how government secrecy undermines the public’s right to know, says Anne Kothawala, president of the Canadian Newspaper Association. “Year after year, newspapers show through this exercise that many Canadian governments have a flawed understanding of the importance of transparency to the democratic system. But transparency is exactly what underpins the accountability principle at the heart of it all. You can’t have one without the other.” … “A lot of people are very frustrated,”

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