By THE CANADIAN PRESS
REGINA -- A retired Quebec judge who oversaw an inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal said Friday that unnecessary delays or outright denials of requests under the Access to Information Act are creating a lack of transparency in government.
John Gomery, speaking to a Canadian Bar Association luncheon in Regina, said this type of transparency is crucial to the Canadian public, to democracy and to society at large.
"It's a danger to open government and to our democratic institutions, frankly. A public that isn't informed is a public which isn't able to vote intelligently," he said.
Improving the flow of government information through such requests is not really on the radar of most politicians, he said.
"The whole subject has a low priority in the minds of too many politicians and definitely access to information is regarded as a pain in the neck to bureaucrats."
He said he hoped that Canadians would pressure the federal government into improving the flow of information to the public.
Gomery has been critical of Stephen Harper's Conservative government in the past.
Last year, he said it had largely ignored the 19 recommendations he made in his report on the Liberal government sponsorship scandal.
At the time, he also voiced concerns about the growing concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office and warned MPs about what he saw as a troubling trend.
"I suggest that this trend is a danger to Canadian democracy and leaves the door wide open to the kind of political interference in the day-to-day administration of government programs that led to what is commonly called the sponsorship scandal," Gomery said in an interview in March 2008.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
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