Letter to the President of the Treasury Board on the open government consultations

September 9, 2013

The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
President of the Treasury Board and
Minister for the Federal Economic
Development Initiative for Northern Ontario
140 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R5


Dear Minister:

I am writing to you to share my views as part of the consultation currently underway regarding Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government. Let me begin by saying that I am pleased to see the advancement of open government at the federal level. I believe that overall, the government is doing well in its progress towards meeting the commitments set out in the Open Government Action Plan.

However, a key element that must be included in the government’s initiative is the modernization of the Access to Information Act (ATIA). You may recall that on January 19, 2012, the Information and Privacy Commissioners of Canada wrote to you to provide our views and recommendations for the government’s action plan for the International Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative. In our letter, we recommended that the Government of Canada commit to modernizing the federal ATIA . This commitment was not included in the Action Plan, and it is, in my view, an important weakness that must be remedied.

The ATIA is in its 30th year. The OGP initiative offers an excellent opportunity for the Government of Canada to confirm its commitment to open government by moving forward with a comprehensive review of the legislation with the goal of modernizing it and re-establishing Canada’s position as an access to information leader. The time is ideal for the government to amend the ATIA and align it with current government processes and progressive national and international norms.

As you know, I will be presenting recommendations to Parliament later this fall on how to strengthen the ATIA. I seek your support in ensuring that the modernization of the ATIA becomes a key component of the government’s open government agenda in Canada. An open government agenda without a commitment to modernize the ATIA will not address the democratic and accountability deficits at the federal level.

Yours sincerely,


Signed on September 9, 2013 by
Suzanne Legault
Information Commissioner of Canada

c.c.:

The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, P.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault, M.P., Chair, Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics

Ms. Yaprak Baltacioglu Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada