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Most Canadians remember when Brian Mulroney was PM, Steve

Check out yesterday’s Hansard on the questioning of Harper about why he would kill off the Co-ordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS) and what his answer was:

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the government took another step to limit transparency and accountability. It quietly killed the CAIRS, which allowed everyone to know what information Canadians had requested about their government through access to information.

Why did the government shut down the registry? What does it have to hide?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):

In fact, Mr. Speaker, this is a government that has actually widened access to information. The database in question was created by the previous Liberal government. It was called the product of a political system in which centralized control was an obsession. That is why the government got rid of it.

Perhaps Steve doesn’t think the media investigates what he claims in QP or does any follow-up, but fortunately, they do:

NDP Leader Jack Layton pointed out that the system was actually implemented in 1989 by Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney “so the criticism seems a little misplaced by Mr. Harper and his team.”

They were also trying to make this story go away by quoting an “expert opinion” in the House claiming CAIRS was flawed – but also unfortunately for Harper and Vic Toews, reporters also do follow-up on that too:

The Conservative government has killed a flawed but workable information registry rather than open itself to real public scrutiny, says an academic who was quoted glowingly Monday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Conservative party line backfired when Alasdair Roberts – “a leading expert on access to information law,” according to Treasury Board President Vic Toews – trashed their talking points moments after the daily question period… neither Harper nor Toews mentioned that Roberts had recommended fixing the problem by making the registry public online – something the federal information commissioner reported in 2004 could be done “at virtually no cost” to government…”They really don’t care what I think about CAIRS or any other aspect of ATI,” Roberts said Monday from New Delhi, India…Roberts, a Canadian who’s about to take a new academic posting at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, suggested the Conservatives have simply gone to a less transparent method of centrally overseeing sensitive access requests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,  you are witness to what Stephane Dion correctly called “the most secretive government in the history of our country.”

H/T to David over at CDLU and Cam at his blog for being some of the few bloggers to highlight this story, and just another example of the lengths Harper and his Cons government will go to hiding potentially embarrassing information from the public – first the suggestion that independent agencies must vet their commmunications throught the Privy Council Office, and now this.


3 comments to Most Canadians remember when Brian Mulroney was PM, Steve

  • Harper is playing a dangerous game here. He is betting that people are not paying attention to the issue and will only take away the (deliberately misleading) impression that this is another instance of Tories cleaning up Liberal corruption. It is a profoundly cynical move, by a profoundly cynical government.

  • The Fwanksta

    Thanks for this post. This is important, interesting stuff.

  • Wow, its like they can’t even stop lying now. Its pathological.

    I love the bit where Harper and Toews tried to use an expert to back up their position, only to have that expert vehemently disagree, stating he wanted the system to remain in place and be improved (at no cost) not scraped.

    More lies. Gotta love transparency and accountability Conservative-style.

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