Right to Know Seminar – Open and transparent government for all

Introductory remarks by Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner

Ottawa, ON
September 26, 2016

Check against delivery.

Thank you Dean Plourde.

I am very pleased to kick off Right to Know Week here at Carleton University. This afternoon’s event is the result of a great collaboration between my office, the School of Journalism and Communication, and the School of Public Policy and Administration.

I am extremely grateful to Professors Harada, Francoli and Shepherd for their help in creating an exciting agenda for today’s event. Also, my sincere thanks to Mary Giles, Natalie Hall and Cynthia Sakellarides for their help in managing all the details that make an event like this a success.

What is Right to Know Week about?

It is about raising awareness about our right to access government information. In Canada, this is a quasi-constitutional right. That means that it takes precedence over other legislation. Our Supreme Court has also recognized that our right to know is included in our fundamental freedoms which are protected by section 2(b) of the Charter which protects our freedom of thought, our freedom of belief, our freedom of opinion and our freedom of expression, this includes freedom of the press.

Access to information rights are key to a healthy democracy.

The promotion and the protection of this right take many forms and involves many actors.

It is fitting then that this year’s Right to Know Week starts here at Carleton with an audience made up of students, scholars, journalists, politicians, IM and IT specialists, policy experts and many others. It is fitting that we start the week with a diverse group of expert speakers who will share their thoughts and experiences. They will speak about access to information and journalism, about open government and about a variety of public policy issues, such as indigenous rights, national security, accessing historical records and access to information at universities. I, for one, am looking forward to learning from their ideas and perspectives.

Our afternoon starts with a very special guest, the Honourable Scott Brison. As the President of the Treasury Board, Minister Brison has a wide range of responsibilities, but he plays a key role in delivering on the Government's transparency agenda. He is really the Champion for Transparency in the Government.

He is responsible for the administration of the Access to Information regime across the government and he is also responsible for the Government's Open Government initiative.

I am truly delighted that Minister Brison has agreed to join us today. Although Minister Brison would have liked to stay for the afternoon, please note that the Minister cannot stay for the entire afternoon as he needs to return to Parliament Hill.

Please join me in welcoming Minister Scott Brison to the podium.