Canada drops 6 spots in global freedom-of-information rankings

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Canada has slipped six places to 55th spot on an annual list of global freedom-of-information rankings, giving it the dubious distinction of being in the company of Bulgaria and Uruguay.

The Halifax-based Centre for Law and Democracy and human rights organization Access Info Europe published the list to mark International Right to Know Day.

The rating system, launched in 2011, uses a 150-point scale to indicate the strengths and weaknesses of freedom-of-information laws around the world.

Canada has dropped down the list partly because other countries have leapfrogged it by introducing better laws, the latest report card says.

War-torn Afghanistan, working to rebuild its public institutions, tops the rankings this year, followed by Mexico, Serbia and Sri Lanka.

The law allows people who pay $5 to ask for records ranging from internal studies and meeting minutes to correspondence and travel receipts. Departments are supposed to answer within 30 days or provide valid reasons why they need more time.

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Canada’s lax timelines, imposition of access fees, lack of a proper public-interest override, and blanket exemptions for certain political offices all contravene international standards for the right of access, says the report published Friday.

In an analysis of the proposed changes last year, the Centre for Law and Democracy said the measures would give Canada only a modest boost in the global rankings. -CINEWS

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