Bill would boost information czar”s powers, enshrine proactive release of info

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OTTAWA — The federal information commissioner would be given new powers to order the release of government records to requesters under legislation tabled today.

The Liberal bill also proposes extending the Access to Information Act — at least in some measure — to the offices of the prime minister, cabinet members and administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.

These institutions would not be required to answer access requests filed by individuals, which many agencies and departments must do.

Rather, they would be legally bound to regularly release certain types of records such as expense reports, contract information and lists of briefing materials.

The bill would also require a review of the access law every five years, with the first to take place within a year of the legislation receiving royal assent.

The bill does not narrow loopholes and exemptions in the law that allow agencies to deny the release of records — reforms that many transparency advocates have long demanded.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

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