ROWAT PRESENTS SEMINAL FOI PAPER

Political scientist Donald Rowat questioned whether Canada’s tradition of administrative secrecy “conforms with the requirements of modern democracy.” (Image by Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science)

June 12, 1965 – Carleton University political science professor Donald Rowat presented his seminal paper on government secrecy in Canada at the annual meetings of the Canadian Political Science Association.1Ruth Worth, “Professor Urges End to Secrecy in Government,” Globe and Mail, 1968. In that paper, Rowat wrote, “Since the principle of secrecy in the British parliamentary system has been imbibed with our mother’s milk, so to speak, we find it hard to believe that a country can get along with it.”2Donald Rowat, “How Much Administrative Secrecy?” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 31, no. 4 (November 1965): 488. Yet both Sweden and the United States had. That is why Rowat commended and endorsed New Democrat MP Barry Mather’s freedom of information bill. 3Donald Rowat, “How Much Administrative Secrecy?” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 31, no. 4 (November 1965): 491. Rowat would be an inspiration for Mather.4Canada, Parliament, House of Commons, Debates, 1st sess., vol. 1 (1968): 1167. And Progressive Conservative MP Gerald Baldwin, the “father and grandfather”5“Gerald W. Baldwin, O.C., Q.C., LL.D.,” Governor General of Canada, updated March 26, 2018, http://archive.gg.ca/honours/search-recherche/honours-desc.asp?lang=e&TypeID=orc&id=70. of the Access to Information Act, would describe him as “one of the real pioneers of open government.”6Gerald Baldwin, “Why Should We Tell You?” (unpublished manuscript, August 1, 1983).

This post is part of a series of articles documenting major events in the history of freedom of information in Canada. To see the complete version of that developing timeline, click here.

References   [ + ]

1. Ruth Worth, “Professor Urges End to Secrecy in Government,” Globe and Mail, 1968.
2. Donald Rowat, “How Much Administrative Secrecy?” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 31, no. 4 (November 1965): 488.
3. Donald Rowat, “How Much Administrative Secrecy?” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 31, no. 4 (November 1965): 491.
4. Canada, Parliament, House of Commons, Debates, 1st sess., vol. 1 (1968): 1167.
5. “Gerald W. Baldwin, O.C., Q.C., LL.D.,” Governor General of Canada, updated March 26, 2018, http://archive.gg.ca/honours/search-recherche/honours-desc.asp?lang=e&TypeID=orc&id=70.
6. Gerald Baldwin, “Why Should We Tell You?” (unpublished manuscript, August 1, 1983).

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