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2013 CJFE Report - A HOLLOW RIGHT Access to Information in Crisis

2013 CJFE Report - A HOLLOW RIGHT Access to Information in Crisis

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Published by jasonYYZ
Canada's Access to Information law is under attach by psychopath Stephen Harper
Canada's Access to Information law is under attach by psychopath Stephen Harper

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Categories:Business/Law
Published by: jasonYYZ on May 13, 2013
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05/13/2013

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CJFESubmissiontotheOICCallforDialogue
AHOLLOWRIGHT:
Accesstoinformationincrisis
 AsubmissionbyCanadianJournalistsforFreeExpressiontotheOfficeoftheInformationCommissionerconcerningreformofCanada’sAccesstoInformationAct
January2013
 
AHOLLOWRIGHT:Accesstoinformationincrisis|January2013CanadianJournalistsforFreeExpression|2
Introduction
CanadianJournalistsforFreeExpression(CJFE),asitsnameindicates,promotesanddefendstherightsenshrinedinArticle19oftheUniversalDeclarationofHumanRightsandArticle19oftheInternationalCovenantonCivilandPoliticalRights.Thesearticlesrecognizefreedomofexpressionasafreedominherentinthehumancondition(UDHR)oronerecognizedbystatesparties(ICCPR).Theyacknowledgetheopportunitytoengageincreativeexpressionandparticipateinsocialorganizationasanessentialattributeofthehumancondition.MuchofCJFE’sworkinvolvespromotingwhatisenshrinedinthesearticles:therightofhumanbeingstoexpressthemselvesfreelyinanyculturalform,regardlessofcontentorstyle.CJFEcallsattentiontoattacksonthisfundamentalfreedomanddefendsthosewhosuffersuchattacks.Forfreedomofexpressiontoflourishhowever,itspromotersmustdomorethanreactivelydenounceanddefend.Wemustworktoensurethatthoseexercisingfreeexpressionhavetherawmaterialnecessarytoformtheiropinionsandcreatetheirtypesofexpressioninthefirstplace.Thisrawmaterialincludesavailableknowledgeoftheworldtheylivein.Thatavailableknowledgeincludestheinformationcollectedandcreatedbygovernments.TheUDHRandICCPRrecognizethis,statingintheirfreedomofexpressionarticlesthatfreedomofexpressionencompassestheright“to
seek,receive
andimpartinformation”(emphasisadded).Furthermore,internationaljurisprudencehasrecognizedAccesstoInformationasafundamentalhumanrightin
ClaudeReyesv.Chile
1
intheInter-AmericanCourtofHumanRightsandthe2001DeclarationofPrinciplesonFreedomofExpression
2
bytheInter-AmericanCommissiononHumanRightswhichassertsthat“accesstoinformationheldbythestateisafundamentalrightofeveryindividual.”InCanada,theCharterofRightsandFreedomsguaranteesfreedomofexpression(section2(b))
3
andtheSupremeCourtofCanadahasrecognized,albeitinsomewhatcarefullanguage,thataccesstoinformation"isaderivativerightwhichmayarisewhereitisanecessarypreconditionofmeaningfulexpressiononthefunctioningofgovernment."
4

1
ClaudeReyesv.Chile,Article77states:“…therighttofreedomofthoughtandexpressionincludestheprotectionoftherightofaccesstoState-heldinformation…”
2
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/expression/showarticle.asp?artID=132&lID=1
3
Justice
Peter Cory
oncewrotethatit"isdifficulttoimagineaguaranteedrightmoreimportanttoademocraticsociety."
 Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (Attorney General)
[1989]2S.C.R.1326,page1336.
4
Ontariov.CriminalLawyers’Association
,2010SCC23
 
AHOLLOWRIGHT:Accesstoinformationincrisis|January2013CanadianJournalistsforFreeExpression|3
Westronglybelievethatwithoutaccesstoinformation(ATI),freedomofexpressionisahollowfreedom.FreespeechadvocatesmustemphasizethelinkbetweenfreedomofexpressionandATI,examineATIregimes,andworktomaximizeboththescopeoftheseregimesandtheirusefulnesstocitizens.WealsoconcurwithJusticeGérardLaForestwhenhearguedinthelandmarkSupremeCourtofCanadadecisionin
Daggvs.Canada
that 
accesstoinformationfacilitatesdemocracyintwoways:
“Ithelpstoensurefirst,thatcitizenshavetheinformationrequiredtoparticipatemeaningfullyinthedemocraticprocess,andsecondly,thatpoliticiansandbureaucratsremainaccountabletothecitizenry.” 

Inthisspirit,CJFErespectfullysubmitsthefollowingtotheOfficeoftheInformationCommissioner’s(OIC)reviewoftheAccesstoInformationAct(ATIA).
 AccesstoInformation
—DesperatelyinNeedofRepair
Onceaninternationalleaderforitsaccesstoinformationlegislation,Canadahasfallenfarbehindduetoafailuretoreformtheactandmodernizeitsprocedures.ArecentstudybytheCentreforLawandDemocracy(CLD)assessedeachcountrywithrighttoinformationlegislation.
Outof93countries,Canadaisnowranks55
th
,farbehindmanydevelopingcountriesandjustaheadofMaltaandAngola.
6
Inourannual
ReviewsofFreeExpressioninCanada,
7
CanadianJournalistsforFreeExpressionhastrackedthesorrystateofaccesstoinformationatthefederallevel.Herearesomeofourfindings:
 
Ithasneverbeenhardertopryinformationthat’softenessentialtoafunctioningdemocracyoutofthefederalbureaucracy.Forexample,ittookthePrivyCouncilOfficefouryearstorespondtoan
OttawaCitizen
ATIrequestforinformationona2006junkettoEdmonton,onaChallengerjet,forthePrimeMinisterandsixcolleaguestowatchgamesixoftheStanleyCup.
8

5
Dagg
.Canada(MinisterofFinance)[1997]2S.C.R.403:http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/privacy/dagg_canada.html
6
GlobalRTIRating,CentreforLawandDemocracy,September28,2012.
7
AvailableeachyearonMay3,WorldPressFreedomDay,andarchivedat:http://cjfe.org/resources/publications
8
OILERSinthe2006playoffs.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005%E2%80%9306_Edmonton_Oilers_season#Playoffs

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