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News October 18, 2017

Canada's most secretive federal department: The Treasury Board of Canada

Canada's most secretive federal department: The Treasury Board of Canada

OTTAWA / Oct. 18 / CNW — Ottawa's point-man on access-to-information reform, Scott Brison, heads the Treasury Board of Canada which is this year's first recipient of the Code of Silence Award for outstanding achievement in government secrecy. 

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), Centre for Free Expression (CFE), News Media Canada and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) have joined forces to expand an award that the CAJ has for almost 20 years handed out to government departments, agencies or public bodies that put that extra bit of elbow grease into keeping any sunlight from reaching the public's business. Previous winners include a former prime minister's office, omnibus government legislation and Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal.

The awards jury, which comprised representatives of the four press-freedom advocacy groups, "honoured" the Treasury Board with this citation:

The Treasury Board of Canada and its President, Minister Scott Brison were in charge of delivering on the Liberal Party's 2015 election promise to make ministers' offices, including the prime minister's office, subject to the Access to Information Act. But his Bill C-58, which received first reading on June 19, did no such thing.

Ministers' offices are still impenetrable bastions of secrecy, a safe zone, free from the obligation to respond to pesky requests by citizens for information on how their tax dollars are being spent. Bill C-58 says ministers will proactively make public whatever information in their offices they decide to release, on a timetable of their choosing.

The Treasury Board and Mr. Brison have ably protected the Code of Silence for ministers' offices. For this reason, the Treasury Board of Canada has been selected as the Federal winner of the 2017  Code of Silence award Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy.

The CAJ, CFE, News Media Canada and CJFE will announce three additional Code of Silence Award winners in the coming weeks. All four organizations will continue to advocate for substantive reform to Canada's federal access-to-information law.

For more information:

Nick Taylor-Vaisey, President, CAJ, 647.968.2393,

James Turk, Director, CFE, 613.277.0488,