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Bill C-206

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This enactment amends the Access to Information Act by defining more precisely what records held by government are to be disclosed and by providing more severe penalties for those who would wilfully circumvent the intent of the legislation.

The enactment

    (a) changes the name of the Act to the Open Government Act, reflecting an overriding principle that the Government should provide all the information it reasonably can to enable the public to assess its performance and to ensure that it is always acting in conformity with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

    (b) requires government records that are more than 30 years old to be automatically opened except where specifically exempted for reasons of national security, public safety or international obligations;

    (c) establishes the principle that records be provided without unreasonable barriers as to time and cost and provides a government institution with the discretion to provide them free of charge to users who request them in the public interest and, conversely, to charge the cost of producing the records plus 10 per cent to users who regularly request records for private advantage;

    (d) makes the deliberate failure to keep required records, or deliberately to conceal or destroy them, an indictable offence punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a fine of ten thousand dollars;

    (e) makes records of the House of Commons and the Senate subject to the Act;

    (f) specifies what cabinet records must be disclosed or not disclosed;

    (g) gives the Prime Minister discretion to release any record of a previous Cabinet if doing so is in the public interest; and

    (h) improves public access to government records pertaining to third-party contracts, to public opinion polling and to Crown corporations and their subsidiaries.