Advice for the Information Commissioner: Do your job.

Longtime readers of this blog may be familiar with my ongoing battle with the Canadian International Development Agency over an access-to-information request I made in April 2007. I wanted to know about CIDA programs in Zimbabwe, but when CIDA claimed such a supposedly broad request would require thousands of dollars in “research fees,” I narrowed the request to one phase of one program – in other words, nothing too broad or onerous.  

Almost two years later, CIDA still hasn’t completed the request. Every few months or so, I check in with CIDA or the Office of the Information Commissioner, where I registered a formal complaint more than a year ago, mostly just to get my blood boiling, because nothing productive ever results. I did so again this week.

 The Access to Information Act gives the Commissioner the power to subpoena recipients of complaints to give oral evidence and produce records. I asked someone in the office of the new Commissioner, Robert Marleau, how many times Marleau has done this since his appointment in January 2007. The answer: zero. Not once. Apparently, he wants to use a “collaborative” rather than a confrontational approach.

How’s that working out for him? Not so good