Freedom of Information, current debate, United States, Sweden, favourable, experience
Freedom of Information has been the subject of much current debate in Canada, but is not new to the world. The United States enacted their first Act, in 1966,1 and amendments in 1974 finally gave the Act some worthwhile effect. 2 Sweden has had Freedom of Information legislation for over two hundred years. The experience of these two countries has been very favourable, but Canada refuses to learn from that experience. There is still a fear in the governments of Canada that openness in government would lead to problems, the ultimate fear being that the party in power will no longer be in power after the passage of effective Freedom of Information legislation. Perhaps that should indicate something in itself. In the United States, after the 1974 amendments, the reaction of the public was overwhelming, and the government, becoming less suspicious of its use, has found that it doesn't discredit executive branch employees. Things now being released south of the border include CIA and FBI files on individuals, the Department of Army Report on My Lai, meat inspection reports showing that products are unwholesome, nursing home reports, anti-trust files relating to merger clearances, correspondence with auto manufacturers on defect investigations, and consumer test reports.
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Keith R. Evans, “Nova Scotia Freedom of Information Act” (1979) 5:2 DLJ 494.