Access to Information reforms fall short, proopenness voices tell MPs

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OTTAWA — Transparency advocates say a Liberal government bill to modernize the Access to Information Act would create new barriers for people seeking federal files.

The access law allows applicants who pay $5 to ask for government documents ranging from expense reports to briefing papers, but it has been criticized as clumsy and antiquated.

Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association tells the House of Commons information, ethics and privacy committee today the government”s proposed updates are not the comprehensive reform package that”s needed.

The bill would allow an agency to refuse to process a request unless the applicant states the type of record being sought, the subject matter and the time-frame in which the documents were created.

Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch, a group that long pushed for improvements to the law, says the legislation would be a big step backwards.

The government touts the bill as the first real advancement for the law since it took effect in 1983.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

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