GOVERNMENT TABLES PAPER PRODUCTION GUIDELINES

Government gives guidelines for what documents MPs can and cannot see.

March 15, 1973 – The government introduced its Guidelines for Motions for the Production of Papers.1Canada, Parliament, House of Commons Debates, 29th Parl, 1st Sess, Vol 2 (15 March 1973). They were supposed to “enable Members of Parliament to secure factual information about the operations of government to carry out their parliamentary duties and to make public as much factual information as possible, consistent with effective administration, the protection of the security of the state, right to privacy and other matters.”2Canada, Parliament, Standing Joint Committee on Regulations and Other Statutory Instruments, 30th Parl, 1st Sess, No. 13 (18 February, 1975). Indeed, when the Standing Joint Committee on Regulations and Other Statutory Instruments began considering those guidelines on February 18, 1975, Privy Council President Mitchell Sharp even went so far as to argue that they “amount to saying that everything that is available will be made public unless it falls within certain categories of exemptions.”3Canada, Parliament, Standing Joint Committee on Regulations and Other Statutory Instruments, 30th Parl, 1st Sess, No. 13 (18 February, 1975). However, he acknowledged, “Naturally these exemptions have given rise to some criticism.”4Canada, Parliament, Standing Joint Committee on Regulations and Other Statutory Instruments, 30th Parl, 1st Sess, No. 13 (18 February, 1975). Indeed, during a visit to Canada two years later, consumer crusader Ralph Nader quipped, “By the time you read all the exemptions, the only one who’s got the rights is (Prime Minister Pierre) Trudeau.”5The Canadian Press, “Nader Calls for Law Giving Public Access to Gov’t Data Banks,” Vancouver Sun, April 13, 1977.

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. Canada, Parliament, House of Commons Debates, 29th Parl, 1st Sess, Vol 2 (15 March 1973).
2, 3, 4. Canada, Parliament, Standing Joint Committee on Regulations and Other Statutory Instruments, 30th Parl, 1st Sess, No. 13 (18 February, 1975).
5. The Canadian Press, “Nader Calls for Law Giving Public Access to Gov’t Data Banks,” Vancouver Sun, April 13, 1977.

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