Access-to-Information: credit where it is due - Macleans.ca

Access-to-Information: credit where it is due

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Last month I wrote about the results of an access-to-information request to the Immigration and Refugee Board, which yielded some 4,000 pages on Cindor Reeves. Nothing in those documents changes my conclusion that the board, as well as the federal government, which intervened in the case through the minister of public safety, has shown gross incompetence and perhaps worse in handling this case.

I should point out, however, the the IRB responded to my access-to-information request quickly and thoroughly. This shouldn’t be worth noting, but given the terrible record of virtually every other government department I have dealt with on access-to-information, it is. Indeed access requests on Reeves made to other departments remain in limbo as I write this.

I do have one complaint about the IRB’s response, though; and it is a large one. I was not given records for some of Reeves’ hearings because written transcripts for them do not exist — only audio recordings. Ostensibly these cannot be censored or edited to ensure they comply with the act’s privacy and other provisions — though anyone who has ever worked in radio will find that explanation dubious. It seems to me that how records are preserved should not prevent their release and that such a loophole might be unjustly exploited.