Access to information has become freedom from information

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I do regret that the hon. President of the Treasury Board has taken so long with his answers when we opposition members are restricted to a finite 30 minutes to complain about the fact that our debate on this very important access to information bill will be restricted.

I want to put this directly to the President of the Treasury Board. I am very pleased that one of my amendments was accepted at committee, but even with that small measure, I cannot vote for this bill. As well, I do not know if we will be allowed to debate the bill that we cannot vote for, because access to information has become freedom from information under the government.

I would urge the President of the Treasury Board to release us from time allocation on this debate.

Scott Brison – Kings-Hants

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, my colleague and leader of the Green Party, will fulfill her function as a member of this place and determine how she wants to vote on this. However, let us be very clear that this bill is an advancement in Canada’s Access to Information Act.

This bill provides the Information Commissioner with order-making powers for the first time. It actually expands the access to information regime to cover over 240 Government of Canada entities from the ports to the courts.

In terms of balance, we have heard concerns from the Privacy Commissioner that we may be going too far, and concerns from the Information Commissioner, which we have reflected in our acceptance of some amendments.

We are listening, but we are also acting. That is something that no government has done in 34 years.