Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Knowledge is Power: Access to Information in Alberta

Did you know that it's Right to Know Week in Alberta? It all started yesterday with the International celebration of Right to Know Day, and continues up until the 2nd of October. Alberta's festivities are a tad belated, and will be held on October 7th in Edmonton.

Find the details below, courtesy of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership

"Calgary—The importance of citizen access to government information will be the focus of Knowledge is Power: Access to Information in Alberta events in Calgary and Edmonton on October 6 and 7, 2009. Hosted by the Alberta Press Council, University of Alberta Centre for Constitutional Studies and the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, the events are part of the national Right to Know Week.

Keynote speaker Darrell Evans, Executive Director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, will address the need for advocacy and activism to get access to information and to keep that access from being eroded over time, and recount some of the notable successes citizens have had in exercising the right to know in Canada.

“Governments will always try to dominate the political agenda and control citizens by controlling access to information,” says Evans. “But from the perspective of a citizen, ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.’ That means it’s our civic duty to counter the spin by demanding timely access to the key government records that tell us what’s really going on.”

Evans will be joined by panelists Linda McKay-Panos, lawyer and Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre and; in Calgary, Lorne Motley, Editor-in-Chief of the Calgary Herald; in Edmonton, Alan Mayer, Editor-in-Chief of the Edmonton Journal.

McKay-Panos will discuss how Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) legislation functions and what changes are needed to improve the legislation.

Motley and Mayer will emphasize the importance of the right to know from the media’s perspective as a key source of public information for citizens in a democracy. The Editors-in-Chief of Alberta’s two major dailies will also offer examples of the obstacles to access to information in Alberta.

In Alberta, the public’s right to know is guaranteed by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The public’s right to information allows any person to request records under the control of a public body relating to the decisions, operations, administration and performance of government. The underlying principle is that citizens are best equipped to hold government accountable, and are better able to participate in the democratic process, when they have timely access to relevant information."

If you'd like to attend, here are the times and locations:

Event Details:
(1) WHEN: Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 7:30 - 9:30 PM
WHERE: EPCOR Centre, Engineered Air Theatre, 205 - 8

(2) WHEN: Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 7:30 - 9:30 PM
WHERE: University of Alberta, Glacier Room, Lister Centre,
87th Ave & 116 St, EDMONTON

Happy Right to Know Week!!!!!

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