The Canadian government released a new Canada Food Guide yesterday, the first major update in 12 years to what is reported to be one of its most-requested publications. The guide is viewed as very influential, with copies often found in medical facilities, schools, and other community spaces. Yet despite the demands for distribution, the government has disappointingly adopted a restrictive copyright approach with respect to its reproduction, adaptation or translation. The guide is subject to crown copyright rules and public uses that extend beyond fair dealing require government permission. In fact, Health Canada has posted a lengthy permission form that asks for the following information for those seeking to reproduce, translate or adapt the guide:
Post Tagged with: "open government"
Canada’s Access to Information Open Data Fail: Departments Months Behind Posting Summaries of Completed Requests
The Liberal government has emphasized the importance of open data and open government policies for years, yet the government has at times disappointed in ways both big (Canada’s access-to-information laws are desperately in need of updating and the current bill does not come close to solving its shortcomings) and small (restrictive licensing and failure to comply with access to information disclosures).
After years of often feeling excluded from the policy making and legislative process, many civil society groups were excited by the prospect of a new government committed to public consultations and feedback. The Liberal government moved quickly to consult on all manner of issues, providing hope that an emphasis on participatory democracy would lead to better policies and an opportunity to incorporate a broader range of perspectives.
My op-ed in today’s Hill Times notes that two years into the Liberal mandate, the consultative process is now a well-established part of how policy is developed. It is nice to be asked for your opinion, but Canada is increasingly facing a consultation crisis as the sheer volume of hearings, notices, and consultations can be overwhelming.
Why the Government’s ATI Reform Bill is a Promise Broken: Proactive Disclosure ≠ Access to Information
When political parties find themselves in opposition, promising to fix the access to information system invariably seems like a good idea. The public is often skeptical about whether the government is transparent and when combined with a woefully outdated Access to Information Act, reform provides a ripe target. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives promised a long list of access to information reforms before taking power, most of which were never acted upon. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals made similar promises when in opposition, unveiling a 32-point plan in June 2015 that pledged a fair and open government backed by access to information reform.
The government introduced Bill C-58 yesterday, the bill promoted as fulfilling its commitment on access to information reform. Discouragingly, it fails to do so. The bill does include some notable improvements, including implementing order making power for the Information Commissioner and establishing a requirement to justify, with written reasons, why information is redacted. However, the bill does not live up to the campaign promise nor does it fully address longstanding concerns with the law.
This week, I was pleased to participate in a joint initiative between the University of Ottawa’s Public Law Group and iPolitics to examine the government’s Speech from the Throne from many policy perspectives. This includes contributions from Professors Mendes, Morales, Oliver, Pal, Dodek, Forcese, Chalifour, and Cairns Way. My piece (iPolitics version, homepage version) focuses on the government’s commitment to “open by default”, which appears in all ministerial mandate letters. I note that the emphasis on open and transparent government in the Speech from the Throne was both welcome and unsurprising. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on openness and transparency with impressive commitments to transform how Canadians access government information.