Accessing Democracy: The Critical Relationship between Academics and the Access to Information Act
Canadian Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2011
15 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2011 Last revised: 22 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 17, 2011
The Canadian Parliament recognized the fundamental importance of protecting access to government information when it enacted the federal Access to Information Act. When the Act came into force on Canada Day 1983, Canada was just one of a handful of countries to have legislative protection of access to government information. Now, 27 years later, over 80 countries across the globe have enacted some form of access to information legislation.
Although the world has followed Canada’s lead in recognizing the importance of protecting access to government information, Canada is no longer a leader in promoting or protecting access to government information. What has gone wrong with the federal access regime? Why should legal studies scholars care? I address these questions in this article. I start by outlining the symbiotic role between academics and access to government information. I then identify three key factors that have contributed to the decline of the federal access regime: administrative resistance, legislative degeneration, and political indifference. Finally, I close by briefly discussing three ways in which scholars can continue to work to protect and promote access to information in Canada.
Keywords: freedom of information, access to information
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