- A commitment to make as many government datasets as possible available to the public online free of charge at opendata.gc.ca in an open and searchable format, starting with Statistics Canada data, including data from the long-form census;
- A commitment to post all Access to Information requests, responses, and response times online at accesstoinformation.gc.ca
- A commitment to make information on all government grants, contributions and contracts available through a searchable, online database at accountablespending.gc.ca
- A commitment to immediately restore the long-form census
The open government/open data commitment is particularly noteworthy since it will apparently include a direction to all federal departments and agencies to adopt an open government principle where the default position is to provide information to the public. The plans for access to information would also be enormously helpful, including restoring the CAIRS database and following the recent UK lead by making all documents released under ATI available online.
If adopted, there is still work to do – for example, we need to address barriers to access created by crown copyright (Elizabeth Judge examines access to public sector information in her contribution to From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda) – but this is a great start that is particularly timely given that it is Open Access Week. A growing number of local municipalities across Canada have implemented open data initiatives, but the notable absence of the federal government has been discouraging as Canada watches other countries race ahead. The development of a clear commitment from the opposition is a welcome development that should raise the profile of the issue and increase the chances of seeing movement sooner rather than later.