Limitations on the Right of Access
All access to information legislation includes some limitations to the information that governments are required to make public. Information such as: Cabinet documents, information that could harm Canada’s security or economy, federal-provincial relations, personal information or international affairs. Some jurisdictions make more information available to the public than others. Some commentators argue that limitations to disclosure are necessary to limit the release of information that may cause prejudice or compromise the public or the national interest if disclosed. In fact, some records, by nature, are sensitive and should be protected. Other note that a presumption in favour of disclosure should prevail. They note that exemptions should only apply, on a case-by-case basis, in narrow and limited circumstances.
In what circumstances should a universal right of access be limited? Should federal institutions have the discretion to limit disclosure? If so, should they be required to demonstrate that a defined injury, harm or prejudice will probably result from disclosure? Should the public interest be considered in the decision to withhold records?