November 2nd, 2017

Improve Access to Information: NDP

OTTAWA – Today, the NDP is proposing amendments to fix Bill C-58 which proposes changes to the Access to Information Act. C-58 is a huge letdown to Canadians who were hoping for long overdue reform to our broken regime. The NDP proposals aim to fix the Act in order to keep government officials accountable.

“Once again, the Liberals have failed to keep a black-and-white election promise to make the PMO and Ministers' offices subject to the Access to Information Act. It seems the Prime Minister changed his mind after promising to have an open and transparent government,” said NDP Justice Critic Murray Rankin. “After decades without any significant change to the Act, Canadians deserve amendments that will make the Act easier to use."

The Liberals promised during the 2015 election to make a number of long overdue changes to the Access to Information Act, most notably extending the Act to cover the Prime Minister’s office and Ministers' offices. The Liberals’ Bill fails to include many key recommendations made by the Information Commissioner and the Ethics Committee, and introduces new major loopholes that make the Act more difficult to use. The Information Commissioner agreed with the NDP in her testimony to the Ethics Committee yesterday, and also in her scathing report to this reform entitled “Failing to Strike the Right Balance for Transparency”.

“The Access to Information Act is an essential tool that is used every day by thousands of Canadians to find out what their government is doing with their taxes and how their rights are being addressed,” added NDP Deputy House Leader Matthew Dubé. “Justin Trudeau and the Liberals promised Canadians they would be different than the secretive Harper government. They have not kept their promise and have instead betrayed the trust of Canadians.”

The NDP’s amendments will reverse changes that the Commissioner deemed “regressive,” and instead propose a more progressive regime which Canadians can be proud of. New Democrats believe these amendments are essential and are hoping that the Liberal government will honor its commitment to be open to amendments so we can work collaboratively in order to improve this fundamental right for all Canadians.