Mr. Speaker, there are two points to that question I would like to address.
First, because the Information Commissioner will have order-making power, if in fact a requester of information believes that the government's decision to refuse to provide the information was inappropriate or wrong, there will be an appeal process. If the Office of the Information Commissioner agrees with the requester of the information, the commissioner can order that the information be provided, and the government would have 30 years—or rather, 30 days—to provide the information. If it did not provide the information in 30 days, it would be violating the law. It would have 30 days to provide the information and if it chose not to, then it would have to challenge the Information Commissioner in a court of law, the decision ultimately being made by a judge. Government departments will be reticent to challenge the Information Commissioner in a court of law. That is a game-changer in and of itself.
As for exemptions, there are legitimate exemptions around things like privacy and national security, as examples, and cabinet confidence. In fact, the Supreme Court has recognized cabinet confidentiality as essential to good government. In Babcock v. Canada in 2002, the court said, “The process of democratic governance works best when Cabinet members charged with government policy and decision-making are free to express themselves around the Cabinet table unreservedly”.
I would disagree with my hon. colleague in that this legislation actually helps strengthen the weaknesses that he was concerned about and raised.