Trudeau government proposes expanding information czar’s powers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, June 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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.

READ MORE: Liberals hiding behind outdated access to information laws, commissioner says

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.

READ MORE: Liberal government postpones initial Access to Information reforms

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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.

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