The Journal's editorial on the government of Canada's review of the Access to Information Act is misleading and inaccurate and requires clarification. ("Why a closed door review?" Edmonton Journal, July 19, 2001.)
As we have said on many occasions, the government to Canada is committed to the principles of openness and transparency. That is why last August we announced a review by the access to information review task force. The review is a joint exercise initiated by the Department of Justice and the Treasury Board Secretariat.
The task force was created in response to Canadians' desire for legislation, policies and processes that reflect an increasing demand for government information and advances in information technology.
Despite what your editorial asserts, the review process has indeed been a public and inclusive one. Various groups of users who regularly seek information through the Act participated in roundtable discussions conducted by the Public Policy Forum this spring. Information on the roundtables was made available on the Web sites of both the Public Policy Forum and the task force, and was sent to over 450 individuals and groups.
And external advisory committee which includes academics, journalists, historians, lawyers and business people, is giving the task force practical and independent advice on how to improve the law and the way it is administered. In addition, the general public has been encouraged to participate in the review process by submitting their views and recommendations, and has been kept informed about the progress of the review exercise.
The task force's Web site (http://www.atirtf-geai.gc.ca) provides summaries of meetings and consultations, research reports and public submissions.
The invitation for public submissions was not limited to Internet users. The task force invited any form of written submission.
Interested persons would have easily been able to obtain contact information through the task force office.
Inquiries can be sent to: Access to Information Review Task Force, P.O. Box 1178, Station B, Ottawa, Canada, K1P 5R2
Most importantly, any changes to the Act will be done in public, through Parliament.Lucienne Robillard, President of the Treasury Board,