moved for leave to introduce Bill C-489, an act to amend the Access to Information Act (cabinet confidences).
Mr. Speaker, in June 1999 the government used the provision for total exclusion of cabinet confidences under section 69 of the Access to Information Act to keep 172 pages of gun registry budget information a state secret.
In September the government used the cabinet confidences exclusion again to hide from the public a 115 page report on the economic impact of the gun registry. That was enough for me and I knew the law had to be changed.
The purpose of this bill is to make certain amendments to the act as recommended by the information commissioner in his 1996 report, The Access to Information Act and the Cabinet Confidences: A Discussion of New Approaches. The information commissioner was kind enough to recommend changes to an earlier draft of this bill.
This bill makes cabinet confidences mandatory exemptions as opposed to exclusions. This results in the withholding of information and documents that are considered cabinet confidences being subject to the independent review under the act, rather than the entire act being inapplicable to them. The bill also excludes from the exemption documents that refer to but do not reveal the substance of cabinet confidences.
Among other safeguards, this bill would require that requests for cabinet confidences be handled only by officers who have received the appropriate security clearance.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)