As the federal government considers hiking user fees to access government information in order to “control demand,” the RCMP has begun an investigation into accusations of political interference by a Conservative staffer in an access-to-information (ATI) request. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose has asked that the RCMP investigate the actions of Sebastien Togneri, a Tory political aide who reportedly demanded that Public Works officials “unrelease” a requested document that was to be sent to The Canadian Press. Ambrose directed the RCMP to look into Togneri’s actions after Canada’s information commissioner concluded a year-long investigation showing the aide had interfered in the request without the proper authorization.
At the same time, the federal government is debating on whether to increase user fees for information requests as part of its reforms to the ATI fee system, which the Treasury Board called “outdated and does not reflect new technologies and formats.” Currently, requestors pay a flat fee of $5 for an information request, which the adds up to less than one per cent of the $47-million cost of the more than 35,000 requests made between 2009-2010.
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