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Maclean’s ran an article titled “Vanishing Canada” in their September 28th issue. It discussed the federal government’s ‘apparent’ ongoing strategy of limiting information collection and disclosure. Our local Member of Parliament, The Honourable Tony Clement, was mentioned several times is the article, and was, at least implicitly, identified as one of the architects behind this strategy.

Well, I decided to contact Minister Clement’s office for a response to the suggestions leveled in the article that the federal government is restricting access to information, largely by not collecting information, and limiting public employees from sharing what they do have. I have attached the response below.

I will compliment the Minister’s office for their quick response, it came back to me less than four hours after my original email. I don’t think the response addressed the issues raised in the Maclean’s article, but then again the Minister chose not to speak to Maclean’s as the article was being prepared. Sometimes it’s best to just avoid an issue rather than addressing it directly. It’s an election year and as an experienced politician you really don’t want to disclose any more than you have to. Wait, wasn’t that in part the theme of the article – limited information, transparency and openness?

(Hmm – I think that our local MP needs to have his staff trained on how to spell Maclean’s. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip on their part.)

Dear Josef,

Thank you for writing. I appreciate hearing from you.

Our Government was elected on a commitment to transparency and accountability.

The problem raised in the Mclean’s article regarding the long-form Census is unfounded. It has been stated, time and time again, that National Household Survey will yield useful and usable data that will meet the needs of users and cover 97% of Canadian communities. The data released from the last round of NHS covers a wealth of data on immigration, citizenship, visible minorities, ethnic origin, Aboriginal peoples, religion, labour, education, mobility and migration, languages, commuting, income, earnings, housing and shelter costs.

Canadians gave us a strong mandate to protect and complete Canada’s economic recovery, and we will make good on that promise by spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently in all government departments and agencies. Rest assured that Statistics Canada will continue to provide the same high-quality, reliable and timely information at lower cost to Canadians.

I would also like to highlight our Government’s achievement on right of access to information. Our Conservative Government completed 43,664 access to information requests in 2011-12, nearly double that of a decade ago. We have significantly reduced the backlog of requests and achieved 58% drop in complaints in 2011-12. We have also expanded the Open Government initiative that posts these completed Access to Information summaries online and adds to the hundreds and thousands of government data sets freely available online to Canadians.

Today Canadians have a Government that is proudly more open and transparent than the last. We will continue to improve out access to information system to provide Canadians with the accountability and up-to-date information they deserve.

Thank you once more for writing.

Sincerely,

Tony Clement
Parry Sound-Muskoka

Want answers? Have a seat and wish upon a star. (Parry Sound in Colour)

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