Straight Talk
BRIAN LILLEY - CBC flouts law and gets praise

Canada's Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault speaks a news conference in Ottawa.

Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie


OTTAWA — CBC may not be adhering to the law and is still handing out blank pages on a frequent basis but that was good enough for the state broadcaster to get an A in a report card from federal information commissioner Suzanne Legault.

In her report two years ago, Legault gave CBC an F for their refusal to respond to requests in a timely manner. The Access to Information Act allows Canadians to pay $5 to find out details about government business. The law requires a response in 30 days, while CBC's average response time is 36 days.

To Legault that didn't seem to matter as she sang the praises of CBC president Hubert Lacroix.

"I attribute the CBC's success to strong statements and actions by the president on the importance of transparency for a public organization," Legault said.

CBC was the subject of 71 new complaints over the last year including 55 for refusal to disclose information. A recent request for information on a contract with Microsoft saw most information stripped out with CBC claiming it was against the economic interests of Canada to release it.

Quebecor, the parent company of QMI Agency, has been a frequent critic of CBC's poor performance on transparency.

"It's as if a teacher gave a dunce an A for showing up in class more often, even though he was still flunking his exams," said J. Serge Sasseville, Quebecor's senior vice-president of corporate and institutional affairs.

"Based on the facts noted in the commissioner's own report, CBC/Radio-Canada is hardly a model student."

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