We’ve been working for months filing dozens of requests with federal government agencies, provincial agencies, and even American states to dig up information about the COVID-19 related closures of the Canada-US border.
If an agency had any relation to the border or if a state touched the border, we wanted to know what they knew about the border closures and when they knew it.
Getting our hands on 91 documents from Washington state was easy, but those internal emails didn’t reveal anything of note other than a cringe-worthy email signature about "gender equality" used by the Consul General of Canada to the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
Sadly, our efforts were much less successful with our own governments — federal and provincial.
Agency after agency used the pandemic as an excuse not to hand over documents until 2021.
The CBSA took a 180-day extension, saying our requests would unreasonably interfere with the operations of their agency.
Public Safety Canada required an extension of 165 days saying they need to conduct “consultations with program experts and other departments.”
The Cabinet Office of Ontario took an 8-month extension and required a $675 fee. We won't see those documents until at least June 19, 2021!
The Office of the Solicitor General in Ontario took an extension of 60 days and sent us a bill for $795.
Transparency is an important part of a well-functioning democracy. Without it, we can't be asked to trust the direction the government is taking us in.
So why was a U.S. state more open and transparent with Canadian journalists than Canada itself was?