Structural Pluralism and the Right to Information
University of Toronto Law Journal, Vol. 51, No. 3, pp. 243-271, July 2001
48 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2008 Last revised: 22 Dec 2008
Date Written: July 21, 2001
In many nations, the structure of the public sector has changed dramatically. Public services are now delivered through a variety of governmental, quasi-governmental and private organizations. This transformation has undermined freedom of information laws, which usually establish a right to information held by governmental bodies alone. Controversies have arisen over the withholding of government-held information relating to contracts with private providers, but this is only one aspect of a larger problem. We must also decide whether to recognize a right to information held within contracting organizations or institutions that have no contractual or financial relationship with government at all. There is no consensus on how these questions should be answered or on the criteria that should be used to resolve them. The aim of this paper is to develop a framework for deciding when a right to information should be recognized. It suggests that disputes about the right to information should be resolved by reference to its role in protecting the fundamental interests of citizens, and not by reference to the provenance or structural characteristics of the institution holding the contested information.
Keywords: freedom of information, right to information, privatization, restructuring
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