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Government Operations committee  Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I would also like to thank the committee for inviting me here to testify on this most important of issues. As mentioned, I'm a journalism professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, where my research focuses on why we value information in demo

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  That's a really good question. I think one of the first things we need to do is to take away the government's teeth. What the government has demonstrated over time is that it cannot be trusted with the existing exemptions and exclusions in the Access to Information Act. I think

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  It sends a very poor message, obviously. This has been the history of governments in Canada. Opposition parties promise that when they come into power they will be more open and accountable than their predecessors. When they actually get into power, what we have seen is that the

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  I would say that very few provinces are doing a good job when it comes to ATIPs. This is a problem that exists across Canada. It is not exclusive to the federal government. Part of the reason is that all our laws come from essentially the same primal pool from the late seventies

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  I think the Information Commissioner did an excellent job of outlining those factors. Given the fact that employees are working from home, they perhaps do not have ready access to some records and documents or perhaps the networks that they're accessing those records and document

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  That's a very good question. This committee has actually assembled, as one of your members just mentioned, an extensive list of recommendations on how Canada's whistle-blower law can be improved. The government should act on those recommendations. This isn't rocket science. In ma

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  That's a really good question. I think at the present moment in time we don't know the answer, because we haven't implemented such a system. We do know that financial protections for whistle-blowers, financial incentives for whistle-blowers, have worked in other jurisdictions,

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  Other than through the statement that was made by the Treasury Board president, it hasn't. However, this has been, in a lot of ways, the history of freedom of information in this country. As an example, when the Canadian Bar Association was advocating for freedom of information i

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  That's a good question. I'm not sure if there is actually a comparable measurement for whistle-blowing legislation. My colleague Allan Cutler would be better positioned to answer that question. What I do know is that there has been a substantive criticism of how out of step we ar

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  It's very true. That speaks to the built-in secrecy that is inherent in our system of government. When you have government's primary decision-making body's, cabinet's, business being conducted under a shroud of confidentiality, that has an effect on the overall culture of governm

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  It's certainly not a concern I've heard. I speak mostly with the journalistic community, being a former investigative journalist. That said, I can definitely see the concern. If sensitive information is being requested, information that, for example, falls under the national secu

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  I think we're too sensitive to the needs of third parties when it comes to access to information requests. In most cases, we're talking about government information that the public has a right to know about to a greater or lesser extent. I think we're often too obsessed with priv

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  Absolutely. I couldn't have put it better myself.

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman

Government Operations committee  I think we need to have a real substantive discussion about cabinet confidentiality in this country, which we didn't really have when the Access to Information Act was being debated, at least not in a fulsome way. What we're essentially saying is that Canadians have no right to k

June 19th, 2020Committee meeting

Sean Holman