Difficult-to-Access-Information on Rights and Democracy - Macleans.ca

Difficult-to-Access-Information on Rights and Democracy


There’s little I can add to colleague Paul Wells’ reporting on the mess at Rights and Democracy. He has almost single-handedly driven this story and though mentally exhausted by his efforts should be proud of them.

My own involvement in the story started last year when I got word that trouble was brewing at the organization. No one was willing to go on the record at the time, so I filed several access-to-information requests to the government, including one to the Privy Council Office asking for a copy of a performance evaluation report on the now deceased president of Rights and Democracy, Rémy Beauregard.

On November 18, Ann Wesch, director of access to information and privacy at the Privy Council Office, responded to my request: “A thorough search of the records under the control of the Privy Council Office was carried out on your behalf; however, no records relevant to your request were found,” she said.

But this report does exist. Rémy Beauregard, before his death, obtained a copy. David Matas, a member of the Rights and Democracy Board, confirms its existence and its release to Beauregard by the PCO.

I contacted Wesch today and was informed that my original request might not have been “tasked out” properly. They are going to look again.

I’ll update with new information as I receive it.


Difficult-to-Access-Information on Rights and Democracy

  1. Tell her to look under S for Secret.

    • More likely filed under MB for "More Bullsh*t".

      • Or "Levant, E."

  2. Keep on them Michael! I've followed Paul passionately on the topic of R & D and am sorry to hear Paul isn't going to be continuing on his beat but I sympathize with the mental drain it must be. On the topic of Access to Information, I'd like to see as much passion as Paul has displayed on R & D into getting to the bottom of the issues surrounding Access to Information.

  3. It seems to me that if you ask for a document, and they respond that it does not exist when it does, that is a violation of the act.

  4. "I contacted Wesch today and was informed that my original request might not have been “tasked out” properly. They are going to look again."

    Ah, so this time they're going to get someone other than Cannon to look for it.

    • Nice one.

    • Nice one.

  5. I can't think of a move more ridiculous than several of the twists and turns that have already taken place on this subject. But this one might even be the most outrageously ridiculous one of the lot.

    Never let it be said that Harper's government doesn't have powerful imagination!

  6. Out of curiosity, Mr. Petrou, what proportion of your Access to Information requests are fulfilled in an accurate, timely manner? I know you've expressed extreme frustration with CIDA on such questions.

    • There are other reporters with much more experience on this than me. The majority of my access requests have been to Foreign Affairs and CIDA. Foreign Affairs can be slow but fulfills requests. It is of course impossible to know if the redacted sections have been blacked out for legitimate reasons or not.

      CIDA, which has still not fulfilled one of my requests after almost three years, is either grossly incompetent or intentionally deceptive. Either way I'm not comfortable entrusting them with the millions of dollars in tax payers' money they spend every year. If they can't provide a clear and honest accounting for how they use their budget, they don't deserve to have one.

  7. The real issue which has been missed by the media so far is that Beauregard had every intention of ensuing the independence of R&D and was planning to seek funding from alternate sources to the Canadian Government, but he wasn't allowed to get very far.

  8. Defund all NGOs NOW!!!

    Any government should rise or fall on their policies rather than farm them out to organizations that clearly become unaccountable and driven by staff rather than under the direction of a Board. Any individual who has ever sat on a Board knows that the relationship between board members and the professional staff needs to be a partnership – a partnership where the staff respect the authority of the Board and where the Board respects the expertise of the staff. That partnership will often lead to strong debates on directions and programs, but at the end the Board has the legal responsibility to direct and if they don't individuals on the board can be held personally responsible. All Boards start with a disadvantage because they are not and should not be involved with the day to day operation of the organization and they rely on the staff to provide them with clear and truthful reports. But with R & D, the Board was kept in the dark about the actions of the staff and the staff were following their own agenda. That situation is never acceptable.

    • R & D is not an NGO.

      I would agree with your last paragraph except for your unwavering support for the Board members of R & D. Why do you assume that they are telling the truth? There are many inconsistencies in what they are saying and have done. An independent hearing is needed to get to the bottom of this mess.