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Access to government-held information has become more difficult since Stephen Harper became prime minister. A report by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) said government agencies are taking longer to respond to requests for information. According to the report, 44 per cent of requests are not answered within the required period of 30 days and the average period for processing can be as long as 395 days.
Also journalists do not enjoy an absolute right to protect their sources, which threatens investigative reporting. The Canadian supreme court ruled in favour of journalist Daniel Leblanc on this issue in October 2010. But five months before that, in May 2010, it ruled in favour of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in its eight-year-old battle to get the Toronto-based National Post newspaper and its former reporter, Andrew McIntosh, to surrender a document pointing to a conflict of interest in a state-owned bank’s loan to a friend of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, although this would allow the police to identify the source of the leak.
The supreme court ruled that the public interest served by protecting the identity of informants was important, but that in this case it was outweighed by the public interest in getting at the truth.
Updated in September 2011
Canada - 21 February 2012
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