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Saturday, January 10, 2009

what's your freedom of information gpa?

The Canadian Newspaper Association has released its 4th Annual Freedom of Information Audit (h/t Archie McLean). Here's how the provincial and territorial governments placed in the audit:

Saskatchewan: A-
Manitoba: B+
Alberta: B+
Nova Scotia: B-
Yukon: C+
New Brunswick: C+
Newfoundland: C+
Quebec: C
British Columbia: C-
Ontario: C-
Though I have a hard time believing that the Government of Alberta excels at freedom of information, it's probably true that this says more about how poorly Ontario and British Columbia are doing than anything else. Here's how the Alberta-portion ranked:
Government of Alberta: B+
City of Calgary: B-
City of Edmonton: C+
C's may get degrees, but they don't mean much when it comes to freedom of information. As someone who is interested in urban issues and municipal politics, I am continually frustrated with how difficult it is to keep track of what initiatives my municipal government and City Councillors are actually working on.

No excuse, Edmonton, it's time to pick up your game.


Anonymous said...

Come on Dave. Auditing gov't response to info requests is very important and must continue, but read the report of this one before jumping to conclusion. The report says Edmonton responded in full to all questions except one - on police taser use. The audit dropped that question for Edmonton only because a fee for the request was not provided. But the report did not adjust the ranking for Edmonton even though it was rated on 4 questions, not 5 questions. The other docked marks were for the size of the fee for processing the 1 question on providing a digital record of all payments to suppliers. What a question. It's good to get this info, but any organization with a billion dollar annual budget would take a little time processing this in a secure form.
Nevertheless, a worthy audit to do - just wish the students doing the requests were a bit more reliable.

Anonymous said...

Fair point. Even after the redesign the City of Edmonton website is poorly organized. Are City Council meetings even recorded on audio? Likely not.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but you have to buy the audio tapes at $25 per tape.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave. I really doubt the the CNA's audit experience is typical of most FOIP seekers: B.C. and Ontario have the best Info and Privacy Commissioners in Canada. Alberta's Frank Work, on the other hand, routinely rules in favour of the FOIP responder, not the FOIP requester, and complaints take years to get resolved. Just ask Tom Engel. Saskatchewan doesn't have much of a FOIP thing happening - its FOIP site lists reports for exactly two complaints last year.
Marnie Tunay Fakirs Canada

Anonymous said...

P.S. Could you Anonymouses do the rest of us a favour and find more imaginative fake names that would enable us to distinguish you one from the other? It is so weird to listen to two of you talking to each other - it's like watching a two-headed creature talking to itself - or a gollum. Eechh.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

While I don't expect that Libs and ND's will soften philosophical differences with the Conservatives, I am aware that Premier Stelmach has made a very concerted effort in making government more transparent - access to travel and expense information, improved internet and digital information access.. so the B+ doesn' suprise me - and neighter do the softer grades for Ontario and Quebec.. notorious Provinces for the applying the concept of "rules for some, but not for me".. I mean, what other Province has gone to the extreme of over-riding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent free expression other than Quebec?

Anonymous said...

re Roblaw's "I am aware that Premier Stelmach has made a very concerted effort" you make him sound like a group. How can one man make a concerted effort? Re your slam on Ontario, - and, for example:???

Unknown said...

At least Edmonton beat Vancouver, Toronto, the CBC, and the RCMP.

Thanks for the article dave.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't place too much stock in the results of a few FOIP requests alone. The provincial government has clearly been anything but forthright in the broader sense (health reform agenda, for example). The audit lacks enough breadth to be considered any kind of authority on the openness of the Alberta government.

Besides, since the audit only pertains to information that the public is legally entitled to, anything below an A+ is appalling in my eyes.