Sunday, July 19, 2009

Farewell, Mr. Marleau

Robert Marleau, Information Commissioner of Canada, has retired. Good on him. He’s well out of it, preferring to spend his time fishing with his grandson. Mr. Marleau by all accounts is a gentleman and a scholar, and therefore totally unfit to be Information Commissioner in an era in which the government dissembles, lies, and manipulates. He's too nice a guy.

I had harsh words for Mr. Marleau, which I don't take back; I was exasperated, no excuse. But now, in my opinion, we need an attack dog.

The problem is, the Information Commissioner is a government appointee, and therefore in the Access to Information Act Schedule I, a “government institution.”

Office of the Information Commissioner
Commissariat à l’information

Office of the Inspector General of the Canadian Security Intelligence
Bureau de l’Inspecteur général du service canadien du renseignement
de sécurité
Office of the Privacy Commissioner
Commissariat à la protection de la vie privée
Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner

Meanwhile, the Access to Information Act states in Section 2:

The last part of Section 2 says decisions to withhold information should be reviewable "independently of government".

Therefore, the Information Commissioner, absent a strong ornery independent streak, is not independent of the government of the day. Stephen Harper chose Mr. Marleau. Is there an attack dog on his short list now?