PACC supports petition E-1090 (Access to Information)

The Privacy and Access Council of Canada (PACC) has pledged its support and signed petition e-1090, a petition before the House of Commons that “[calls] upon the Government of Canada to immediately begin the process of turning over all historical documents” to Library and Archives Canada (LAC); and to “reform the ATI and Library and Archives Canada Act to ensure historical material does not remain hidden outside of LAC”.

The petition was drafted in response to the revelation that several governmental institutions including the Privy Council Office, Global Affairs, and the Department of Justice have withheld historical material from Library and Archives Canada.

PACC as an association supports effective privacy and access legislation that preserves and strengthens democratic and Charter-protected freedoms, and calls on the Government of Canada to transfer all historical materials to Library and Archives Canada — regardless of the format of the records, and regardless where they might be located within the Government, federal agencies, boards, commissions, Crown corporations and other entities.

PACC also calls on the Government to reform the Access to Information Act and the Library and Archives Canada Act with clear language to ensure that future documents will be archived, and that all such archived documents will be readily available to Canadians — without being hidden behind a paywall, obscured through the application of overly-broad exemptions in ATI legislation, granting authority to data holders to deny access requests, or providing other mechanisms to effectively shield information from view.

Access to historical government documents is important for researchers and for the advancement of social knowledge in Canada, and is an essential component of a free and democratic society. Clear and workable access-to-information legislation is essential for ATI professionals to be able to carry out their roles in an effective and efficient manner, without undue interference, in order to provide Canadians with access to information held by governments and public institutions.

In supporting signed petition e-1090, PACC joins the Canadian Historical Association (CHA), Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians and other group and individual signatories of the petition; and PACC encourages its corporate and individual members to sign the petition. The petition is available for signature until 4:31pm (EDT) on September 8th, 2017.

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