It is the general feeling that things are fairer, easier and more democratic in Canada. And while that might be the case in some circumstances, it is not a broad sweep fact. Accessing public records in Canada has the same challenges as the United States and other bureaucratic processes. The Star out of Canada brought this interesting topic to our attention in their article, “The high cost of accessing public records is a barrier to democracy, experts say.”
Public records are documents or pieces of information that are not considered confidential and generally pertain to the conduct of government. In the United Sates public records are not necessarily available without restriction, although Freedom of Information legislation has made access easier.
Each government has policies and regulations that govern the availability of information contained in public records. In the United Kingdom, Cabinet papers were subject to the thirty-year rule: until the introduction of access legislation.
Without easy access to public records, citizens of any country are challenged to hold their elected representatives to account and as a result, democracy can suffer.
Melody K. Smith
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