This event starts at 12:15 p.m. in the ALBERTA ROOM.
FOI requests are about attitude and being pesky more than knowing the techniques, Beeby says.
The roots of FOI really go back to the 1970s, Beeby says. He says the Joe Clark government was actually the first to bring it up federally
Beeby says FOI legislation worked well until the '90s, when government started to learn loopholes to circumvent FOI.
Federal law allows cabinet documents to be excluded under the FOI act. Beeby says the use of this exclusion has grown
greatly since 2006 when the Conservatives took power.
Beeby: "The definition of cabinet documents has expanded beyond all reason.
"The other phenomena we're seeing since 2006 is consultations," says Beeby.
Beeby says an increase in interdepartmental consultation is a natural part of government growth. However, he says the length of time these consultations take has become unreasonable under the current federal government; going from weeks to months.
Beeby: We've seen an increase in political interference with this government.
Beeby says there is solid evidence that proves the federal government uses political interference to limit FOI.
After submitting an FOI request that he thought had been tampered with, Beeby submitted another request to find out how his first request had been processed.
Beeby says the act itself needs a complete overhaul because it is vague and badly written.
The amendments that have been made to the act have not gone through enough scrutiny,
Beeby: "We need to get business involved." A lot of people don't know that businesses are the biggest users FOI.
Beeby wants to see businesses push for better FOI.
Beeby: "We need a coalition of lobby groups to push for change"
Beeby: "Our own newsrooms need to go to court more often."
Beeby wants to see media organizations taking the government to task for failures in allowing FOI.
Beeby is suggesting tactics that journalists can use...
"Piggybacking" - Each government department is required to post all of the FOI requests they have received on their websites. Journalists can get access to past disclosures. There's also no cost for processing, since the request has already been filled.
Beeby: If you can target agencies that operate at an arm's length from the federal government, you can have much better success in your requests. Via Rail, Bank of Canada...etc.
"Public servants have a chip on their shoulder," Beeby says. "You have to exploit it."
Beeby: "There's no love lost between public servants and their political masters."
Beeby: specific and detailed requests give more of an impetus for public servants to respond quickly to your requests.
The very interesting FOI update was sadly cut short due to the start of the Keynote.