Time to open up

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It didn’t take long for provincial NDP leader Mike Redmond to jump on the provincial government of Robert Ghiz over a poor showing in a recent investigation into freedom of information requests.

The Newspapers Canada report gave the Island a D grade – nothing to be proud of there. The audit made 15 requests to the province for information. Of those only three were granted in full.

There are lots of statutes in this country that grant the public the right to check up on what their governments are up to. Unfortunately, the results are often a disappointment. The requests are time consuming – one can wait months for results – and those results, if released, often have large sections blacked out or omitted altogether. Other times requests are outright refused.

The report (which can be found at: http://www.newspaperscanada.ca/sites/default/files/Freedom-of-Information-Audit-2012-FINAL.pdf) is further proof that governments across Canada need to do more to get rid of the secrecy. Canada is full of taxpayers who are more than capable of reading information to form their own opinions without them first being censored by government.

The executive summary of the audit indicates they found “egregious examples of fees, delays and denials.” The authors and researchers compared the performance of all levels of governments and agencies and had them answer identical requests, filed at the same time.

While the results are less than acceptable everywhere, in P.E.I. it gets even worse. The province, while clearly not good at providing the information, at least has to respond to freedom of information requests; municipalities here have to do no such thing. It is an archaic policy that needs to change.

Local municipalities are the form of government closest to the people. There needs to be legislation now to force them to respond to requests from the public.

An open government is a better government. It’s the only way to ensure accountability and trust; both which are sadly lacking at all levels of government today.

Organizations: Newspapers Canada

Geographic location: Canada, P.E.I.

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