Public has no right to access PM’s agenda, Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court of Canada has turned back an attempt to let the public see information held by top elected officials in the federal government.

The decision means that daily agendas produced by the prime minister and his cabinet are not subject to public scrutiny.

The court said that the federal Information Commissioner incorrectly argued in favour of an access-to-information regime that would greatly expand the duty of top officials to disclose sensitive information.

Several media groups joined the fray, arguing that successive federal governments’ penchant for suppressing information has made Canada fall out of step with most other democracies and with international law.

The Harper government – which picked up the litigation from where its predecessor Liberal government left off in 2006 – has been feeling intense pressure over its purportedly secretive ways.

Four separate access-to-information requests by opposition politicians and members of the media were at the heart of the appeal. They sought minutes, agendas, e-mails and day timers that related largely to Mr. Chrétien’s use of government aircraft, and to high-level national defence meetings.

Judge Charron assured that a two-step test set up by the courts will provide a screening device to ensure that the government does not place documents in an inaccessible “black hole.”

Full article in the Globe and Mail is here.