Stop excessive government secrecy

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Secrecy in government is a recipe for corruption, waste of the public's money, and abuses of power.

Yes, some secrecy is needed to protect the private information that governments gather about Canadians, and to protect investigations into crimes by the police and national security forces.

However, the culture of excessive secrecy within the Canadian government encourages wrongdoing, makes government accountability much more difficult, and helps the ruling party push its agenda forward even if a majority of public opposes the agenda.

The Conservatives under Prime Minister Harper made many key promises during the 2006 election to strengthen government transparency -- but they broke almost all of their promises.

Since then, seven reports have been published calling for key changes.

Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal Party promised during the 2015 election to strengthen Canada's open government law, the Access to Information Act, to close secrecy loopholes so that government data and information will be "open by default" -- and specifically to apply the law to the offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers.  The Liberals said they were making these promises because "transparent government is good government."

Prime Minister Trudeau said: "As the saying goes, sunlight is the world's best disinfectant.  Liberals will shine new light on the government..."

Unfortunately, the Trudeau Liberals have broken their promises so far.

First, an audit by News Media Canada (an association of media outlets across Canada), concluded that the Canadian government's access-to-information system has actually worsened since the Liberals were elected.

Secondly, the Trudeau Liberals recently proposed Bill C-58 to change the open government law.  While the bill will give Canada's Information Commissioner some limited power to order the release of government information, Bill C-58 doesn't close any secrecy loopholes in the law, and it actually gives politicians and government officials broad, unjustifiable reasons to keep information secret.

Canada's Information Commissioner and many citizen groups have concluded that Bill C-58 could actually weaken Canada's open government law.

The House of Commons is reviewing Bill C-58 right now, and MPs can make changes to strengthen the law.  The Senate will then review Bill C-58, and Senators can also make changes to strengthen the law.

Please sign this petition calling on all federal party leaders, and MPs and Senators, to strengthen Bill C-58 so it:

  1. closes all excessive secrecy loopholes, and;
  2. gives the Information Commissioner the independence and power needed to order the release of information, and to penalize violators who keep information secret that the public has a right to know.

To see details about the Liberals' promises, and the response to Bill C-58 by the Information Commissioner and many citizen groups, check out:

Democracy Watch and Open Government Coalition call on federal Liberals to make many key open government changes to Bill C-58 (October 23, 2017)

Access to Information reforms fall short, pro-openness voices tell MPs (CTVNews.ca publishing Canadian Press article, October 23, 2017)

Government access to info bill a step backwards, not forward: watchdog (Canadian Press article, September 28, 2017)

Canada's access-to-information system has worsened under Trudeau government: report

Access to information law changes won't open up PMO, Cabinet offices (CBC.ca, June 19, 2017)



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