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On the 25th Anniversary of the Access to Information Act: the Information Commissioner calls for modernizing the Access to Information regime

Ottawa July 1, 2008 - This Canada Day marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of a landmark piece of legislation that is today under more intense scrutiny and examination than ever before. On July 1, 1983, theAccess to Information Act formalized Canadian’s right to information held by federal institutions. The date also marked the establishment of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada.

Freedom of information is central to achieving transparent and open government. Robert Marleau, Canada’s Information Commissioner, salutes the work of his three predecessors and the corps of professional investigators and lawyers who “individually and collectively, significantly contributed to the development of access to information over the past quarter century”. 

However, as the Act celebrates its silver jubilee, it is time to assess whether the complete federal access to information regime fits the times.  “We strongly need to modernize all aspects of the regime, namely the culture, the administration and the legislation” says the Commissioner, “to promote open, effective and accountable government in a way that truly serves the public interest.” This will only happen with bold political leadership.

Over the coming months, the Office will continue to raise awareness about access to information issues through a series of events, public discussion and debates, starting with an open dialogue on the modernization of the federal access to information regime and followed in the fall with the national Right to Know Week from September 29 to October 3, and a Special Report to Parliament.