Saturday, March 15, 2008

The original application for information is now 15 months old ... that's the reason for this blog in the first place....

....and so far I've got 73 pages of nothing, with a letter from the Department of National Defence explaining that the 73 pages of nothing were attached, and a subsequentl letter from the Office of the Information Commissioner saying that the delay of nine months in providing me with 73 pages of nothing was unacceptably long. I have yet to hear about my appeal that I was denied the information, which the Information Commissioner can sustain and take my case to Federal Court, or deny, in which I can take my case to Federal Court. Either way, the foot-dragging is, for practical purposes, an abuse of the right of a Canadian citizen to ask for government information.

What makes me feel a little better is that I'm in good company. The Military Complaints Commission of Canada is planning to hold public hearings into the treatment of Afghan prisoners by Canadian Forces. This is as a result of a complaint made by Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Association. The Commission, whose members have security clearances, has also waited over a year for information from the federal government, and is now preparing to use its subpoena powers to extract the information, through the power of the Federal Court.

None of this scrutiny would be occurring if it were not for the vigorous action of two determined and courageous public interest groups, and it's obvious that the scrutiny is being resisted. I couldn't help detecting a note of exasperation on the Military Complaints Commission website.