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Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 05:21:08 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
Subject: Canada: Protest Bill 26 Changes to FOI laws

/** media.issues: 49.0 **/
** Topic: Protest Bill 26 Changes to FOI laws **
** Written 11:31 AM Jan 24, 1996 by web:ccpj in cdp:media.issues **

Media Alliance to protest changes to access to information laws

From Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, Media Release, 24 January, 1966

The Media Alliance, a coalition of a dozen writers' and journalists' organizations, will make a final appeal to the Conservative government of Ontario to preserve the right to access to information. We are urging Members of the Provincial Parliament to alter the proposed amendments known as Schedule "K" contained in Bill 26, before it is passed on January 29.

"The proposed changes to the laws regulating access to government information will so severely restrict public disclosure in matters relating to the government, that many of us feel compelled to come forward and defend the democratic principles we value," says a letter from members of the Media Alliance sent to each MPP this week. The Media Alliance was arbitrarily refused permission to speak at the so-called public hearings on Bill 26.

The proposed changes are ostensibly designed to reduce costs and prevent abuse of the system. New provisions will allow the dismissal of requests deemed to be frivolous or vexatious, the levying of user fees and the restriction of the right to appeal. Information and Privacy Commissioner Tom Wright recently held a Public Inquiry to review the issues of frivolous and vexatious requests and abuse of the system and he has recommended the opposite of the changes now being proposed.

The Media Alliance For Access To Government Information, coordinated by the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, is comprised of the Canadian Association of Journalists, The Computer Assisted Reporting Network, PEN Canada, ARTICLE 19 (International Centre Against Censorship), the Writer's Union, the Newspaper Guild, the Book and Periodical Council, and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, and is endorsed by the Canadian Media Guild and the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild.

Members of the Media Alliance will join Liberal MPP Alvin Curling to protest the Omnibus Bill in the media briefing room on the 1st floor of Queen's Park on Thursday, January 25 at 11:30 am.

Press contact: Kristina Stockwood, CCPJ, at tel: (416) 703 1638.

The Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists
490 Adelaide Street West, # 205, Toronto, ONTARIO M5V 1T2 CANADA
Tel: 416-703-1638; Fax: 416-703-7034; E-mail: ccpj@web.apc.org