Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
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The Information Commissioner of Canada has written to the Chairman of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers regarding the proposed Convention on Access to Official Documents. The Convention is an important initiative aimed at developing an international treaty on the right to information.
In the context of Canada's experience with access legislation, the Commissioner encourages the drafters to strengthen the Convention so that it will serve as a progressive model for nations endeavouring to foster a culture of openness in public institutions.
Mr. Carl BildtMinister of Foreign Affairs,Chairman of the Council of Committee of MinistersMinistry for Foreign Affairs
Dear Mr. Bildt:
As Information Commissioner of Canada, I am writing in support of the Council of Europe’s groundbreaking initiative to develop the world’s first international treaty on access to information. When ratified, the Convention on Access to Official Documents should serve as a model for nations endeavouring to entrench the principle of the public’s right to know and to foster a culture of openness in public institutions.
Recently, Canada celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Access to Information Act (Act). While sound in terms of its concepts and balance, it is recognized that work is needed to modernize the Act from both legislative and administrative perspectives. Changes to date have been modest but we are fortunate in that the debate on how best to achieve and sustain a progressive régime is ongoing.
It is within the context of the Canadian experience, as well as the issues identified on by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that I wish to make the following observations regarding the proposed treaty:
Adopting the positions put forward by the Parliamentary Assembly would significantly enhance the Convention on Access to Official Documents. In my view, the Council of Europe has a unique opportunity to establish an access regime that will positively influence international standards now and in the future.
Robert MarleauInformation Commissioner of Canada