The government’s freedom of information legislation is insufficient

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague on his first speech as the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board. I just wish he had better content for his first speech.

Bill C-58 is such a massive disappointment. I have never seen a commissioner like the Privacy Commissioner pan legislation as this was panned. I have to confess that while I try to keep up with absolutely everything in this place, I have not seen if the Senate amendments are capable of making this bill worth supporting.

I read an article which says that the Liberals’ new freedom of information bill is garbage. I wonder if there is any reference that the hon. parliamentary secretary could direct us to from any impartial experts. Is there anything from a third party source that could be referenced at this point indicating that it is a substantial improvement?


Mr. Greg Fergus: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the question from the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

I can tell the hon. member that perhaps she should have kept up to date. I would not assume that she has not kept up to date, but she admitted she might not have kept up to date with the last little bit. As of May 14, the Information Commissioner actually had this to say before committee:

…the current version of the act is definitely a better bill than what we have currently….I think [the former commissioner’s] call for changes has been responded to….I’m really hoping that Bill C-58 will be passed, yes….
I think we have done our duty. Is better always possible? Absolutely, and that is why we included a provision to take another look at the act a year after it receives royal assent and review the entire act every five years.
That way, we will avoid waiting 34 years to update a bill that is crucial to ensuring the people view the government as legitimate.