While some delays due to the election call were understandable, seven months of inaction led skeptics to wonder whether the entire announcement was little more than a publicity stunt. The delays are particularly discouraging given Canada’s willingness to pressure others about the value of open government. Last month, Canada became one of 46 countries to join the Open Government Partnership, which is focused on the availability of information about governmental activities, supporting civic participation, and increasing access to new technologies for openness and accountability. A letter from Foreign Minister John Baird to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirming Canada’s participation noted the June Speech from the Throne that reaffirmed support for open data, open information, and open dialogue.
As announced last March, starting in 2012, all departments and agencies subject to the Access to Information Act will be required to post summaries of completed information requests on their websites.
However, the Open Government website posting from the event states:
Starting April 1, 2011, all departments and agencies will work diligently to proactively release summaries of completed access to information requests.
The difference may be in the language (work diligently vs. required), but regardless it is hoped that Clement’s reaffirmation of the open government plans will put the issue back on track.