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Friday, January 23, 2009

'Follow Obama's lead on transparency, PM told"

Information Commissioner Robert Marleau

So says a headline in the Toronto Globe and Mail, not any of our locals, I'm afraid.

And it's not any old Peter, Paul or Mary speaking, it's the Canadian Information Commissioner, Robert Marleau. Although none appear to have bobbed up publicly in the last day or so, you hope that our own watchdogs and policy heavyweights are telling Federal, state and territory leaders, again if necessary, about the vital role they must play in this:
"I am thrilled to see that Mr. Obama is taking such a forceful position in the context of transparency," Mr. Marleau said. "I'm jealous, yes. Given that the President will meet Mr. Harper in the near future, I hope that they will talk about it and that the President of the United States can be an example for our own political leader."
The Commissioner was referring to President Obama"s comments yesterday, as quoted in The Globe and Mail, elaborating on the written instructions issued to government agencies:
"Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known," Mr. Obama said Wednesday. Mr. Obama said he still wants his government to protect national security and personal information, but that the rules should favour those who are seeking information. "The mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does (not) mean you should always use it," he said. "The Freedom of Information Act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable. And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter but also the spirit of this law." Mr. Obama said "transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

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