Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Minister's Offices and Prime Minister's Office Not Subject to Canada's Access to Information Act

On June 19, 2009, the Federal Court of Canada issued a ruling to the effect that Canada's access-to-information law does not apply to the offices of the prime minister or cabinet ministers.  The court said that some records created by ministers' aides could be disclosed in connection with an access to information request by a member of the public when such documents are "controlled" by the bureaucracy.  However, when such documents are  in a minister's office or the PMO, they do not have to be provided because the Access to Information Act (Canada) does not require their production and release.

This decision is surprising when one consider that Canada is a developed country that is committed to the ideals of transparency and rule of law.  One would expect China's laws to deny access to unclassified documents of politicals - but not Canada.

It is important to note that the case was filed by Laurie Throness, a researcher for the former Canadian Alliance party, after she was denied access to copies of the agendas of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien.  the request was submitted after Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien left office and, therefore, the request did not endanger the security of a sitting Prime Minister.

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