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Freedom of Information in BC: where it came from and where is it going?

BC's Freedom of Information Act, passed in 1992, was designed to make BC's government more open and accountable. Then-Attorney General Colin Gabelman proclaimed, “We want to create a ‘culture of openness' within government so that information is routinely released.”

That was the theory then; what is the reality today? Has FOI really made the government more transparent and accountable? Has it empowered citizens? Is government really more open than it was fourteen years ago?

The current Liberal administration also trumpeted its commitment to open government and freedom of information, stating, “All citizens must have timely, effective and affordable access to the documents which governments make and keep,” and “there are few issues of more importance than the public's right to know.”

However, according to FOI advocates and requesters, the citizens' right of access to information has suffered badly under both NDP and Liberal administrations. Amendments to the FOI act and ill considered court decisions have reduced the act's effectiveness. Critics of the government's performance complain that an entrenched “culture of denial” has evolved toward access requests. Studies claim that FOI response times have increased, fee estimates have skyrocketed, and other barriers to access have proliferated.

If this is the past of freedom of information in BC, what is its future? Are there workable solutions to the problems of access? Once elected, does any government really have the will to share its control over information with the public?

The first BC Information Summit brings together academics, present and past elected officials and experienced Freedom of Information requesters from every sector of society. Together, they shall explore the challenges and solutions of creating an open government and a free flow of information to the public.


September 29, 2006
The Theatre at UBC Robson Square Campus

Ticket prices:
Early Bird Rates are available until
September 18, 2006.
All rates include
a buffet lunch


$75 (early bird) $90 (regular)

$55 (early bird) $65 (regular)

$25 (early bird) $30 (regular)