Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gets an “F” for disclosing information to the public and media, according to a report released Wednesday.
Trudeau was critical of the previous Conservative government for its alleged failures to disclose information, but News Media Canada says the Liberals’s performance “was even worse than in the latter years of the former Stephen Harper government.”
The organization, which conducts research on behalf of Canada’s news media, says even though Trudeau has publicly promised to deliver information in at timely manner, the legislation that he introduced towards that end is highly “worrisome.”
News Media Canada found that “the results are not encouraging and show a system that seems as broken as ever.”
The federal information commissioner who evaluates how well the government is responding to access to information requests, says she is “very disappointed” with the Liberal legislation that is supposed to improve the Access to Information Act. Suzanne Legault plans to file a report outlining her specific concerns with the bill by the end of this week.
The Access to Information Act allows anyone with $5 to request information from any government department — subject to privacy and security concerns. If the federal government cannot respond to the request within 30 day, it must explain why it requires an extension.
The official opposition Conservatives and third party New Democrats are in agreement that they Liberals are stonewalling on information requests and don’t really want to reform the legislation.
A major criticism in the report is that the Liberals have their talking points down about government transparency but are practising something completely different. The Liberal legislation contains references to information requests being subject to ambiguous criteria. For instance, a request can be denied if it is deemed to be “vexatious,” which, in politics, can apply to just about anything. Nor can a request be seen as one that will “unreasonably interfere” with a bureaucrat’s regular duties.
“The federal audit reveals an access system that is bogged down to the point where, in many cases, it simply doesn’t work,” states the report.