Sadly, we were not surprised at all with the contents of the 2017 National Freedom of Information Audit report released last week by News Media Canada (NMC).
The report simply reaffirmed what we have written about in this space for years: that despite advancements in technology, ballooning staff rosters and endless promises to be more accountable, many government bodies have done little to improve access to information – and some have gotten worse.
A large portion of this year’s audit, which reviews the performance of federal, provincial and municipal governments and other public institutions, focuses in particular on the failings of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.
“The federal audit reveals an access system that is bogged down to the point where, in many cases, it simply doesn’t work,” the report states.
In fact, the report notes the federal government’s performance “was even worse than in the latter years of the former Stephen Harper government,” which was regularly lambasted for being inaccessible.
The federal government received an “F” grade in the NMC audit, which notes “just a quarter” of federal freedom of information requests were answered within the normal 30-day time limit and a third had not received a response by the end of the audit (outstanding for three months or more).
Of course, the NMC audit also found “trouble spots” at other levels, “But none is as thoroughly gummed up as the federal system.”
This despite Trudeau’s repeated promises during the 2015 election campaign to establish a more “transparent” government.
“It’s a sentiment shared by just about every opposition party that seeks power, but often falls out of favour once power is achieved,” the NMC report states.
As noted repeatedly by the Advertiser, this pattern of deception is not unique to federal politics. It also happens at the provincial level and even plays out every four years in almost every municipality in Wellington County.
Despite election promises, when it comes to access to information, several current municipal governments across the county would receive a poor grade.
But that’s a topic for another time (more on this matter coming soon).
This year, Oct. 1 to 7 is National Newspaper Week. Organized annually by NMC, the event aims to acknowledge the people “who work tirelessly to bring the News to their communities.”
Of particular note is Carrier Appreciation Day on Oct. 7, which recognizes the efforts of Newspaper carriers young and old who make a vital contribution to the industry.
Each week 150 town carriers and 20 rural drivers brave the elements and countless other factors to deliver your Advertiser. Please take a moment – and perhaps not just this week – to express your gratitude for the great job they do year round.
As NMC notes, carriers “come from all walks of life to bring the world to your doorstep.”