Is it a coincidence? Prime Minister Justin “Sunny Ways” Trudeau just returned from an invigorating visit to Washington DC, and “Sunshine Week” has been declared south of the border for the following week (March 13 to 19, 2016).
The theme of “Right to Know” activities everywhere is to raise awareness of an individual’s right to access government information, while promoting freedom of information as essential to both democracy and good governance
Canada has something similar, aptly called “Right to Know Week” (official website: www.oic-ci.gc.ca/rtk-dai-eng). It is typically held starting on international Right to Know Day (September 28 each year), but we cannot find official dates yet for Canada in 2016.
The Sunshine Week official website (www.sunshineweek.org) has lots of U.S.-based resources, but the principles are the same.
Vancouver is undergoing an audit by B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner. It is one of the worst municipalities in the province for complaints about information disclosure, and we know that senior officials routinely delete their e-mail. The B.C. provincial government and leading politicians are also embroiled in a fiasco of systematic “triple deleting” of e-mails. There is lots of room for improvement.
We believe that with better accountability and transparency our governments at every level would be able to serve society better, faster, and at lower total cost. But it is up to citizens and citizens’ organizations to demand that. So every day should be “Sunshine Day” and “Right to Know Day.” That’s why we felt it was worth mentioning today. What can you do to move governments in this direction? Something to think about and act on.
Previous coverage by CityHallWatch
Celebrate Right to Know Week and make a Freedom of Information Request
September 30, 2015
Did you know? Canada’s “Right to Know Week” ended Sept 28. But every day, know and exercise your rights! (October 2, 2013)
REFERENCES AND READING
- Access to information is a right of everyone.
- Access is the rule—secrecy is the exception!
- The right applies to all public bodies.
- Making requests should be simple, speedy, and free.
- Officials have a duty to assist requesters.
- Refusals must be justified.
- The public interest takes precedence over secrecy.
- Everyone has the right to appeal an adverse decision.
- Public bodies should pro-actively publish core information.
- The right should be guaranteed by an independent body.
- A Right to Know Fact Sheet (PDF)
- A link to The Road Forward: Raising British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to World Standards – A submission to the British Columbia Legislative Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, by Stanley L. Tromp
- Federal government and Parliament links
- Links to information offices in countries around the world
- Link to NGOs and related sites across Canada
Here we wish to feature the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA). Their website is filled with information and resources. They deserve everyone’s attention and support.
We must also mention the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia (OIPC-BC). The website contains reports, rulings, tools/guideance, news/events. The current Commissioner is Elizabeth Denham. Here is her official statement on Right to Know Week 2013.