(This was first published on weneedaLAW.ca)
who wrote to the Prime Minister regarding Roxanne's Law, supported
the bill. Only a tiny number who wrote, were actually against the
In December 2012, I sent an Access to Information request to the
Privy Council Office (PCO) looking for information on MP Rod
Bruinooge's Bill C-510.
I asked for: "all information relating to Bill C-510
including briefing notes, talking points, reports, emails, letters,
and any other documents that reference bill C-510".
The package I finally received contained 713 pages. Access to
Information requests are never very quick and almost never take the
legislated 30 days. This request took eight months to be received in
Pages 1-4 were excluded because of "cabinet confidences".
Pages 5-59 contained a complete list of "Senate Government
Bills" and one entry identified Bill C-510, which is why the
pages were included.
Pages 60-125 were all withheld, also because of cabinet
Pages 126-713 contained letters and emails from members of the
public regarding their support or non-support for the bill, along
with the PCO's responses. All responses were identical and all
personal information was blacked out.
There were three organizations (The Catholic Women's League,
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Priests for Life Canada) and 423
letters from individuals, all who
supported the bill. The Catholic Women's League stated that
they were writing on behalf of 106 of its members.
That's at least 531 shows of support for the bill (e.g. 423
individuals, plus 106 individuals from one organization, and the
other two organizations. I don't know how many individuals belonged
to the other two organizations).
There were a total of 17 letters written from individuals, who
were not in support of
In other words, 97% of people who wrote to the Prime Minister
regarding Roxanne's Law, supported the bill and 3% of those who wrote
to the Prime Minister, did not support the bill.
Clearly Parliament is out of step with the Canadian Public.
One "pro-choice" person wrote this letter to the Prime
"Thank you for supporting the Canadian public in encouraging
your members to vote against Roxanne's Law. I am not normally a
supporter of the Conservative Party, but I believe that you are
finally listening to the voices of Canadian women on this issue. Well
done Mr. Harper."
The irony of this letter of
course, is that Mr. Harper
did not in fact, listen to the voices of Canadian women on
And what was in those 69 pages I couldn't see? Who knows? I could
complain to the Information Commissioner but that would be pointless.
Her office would not be able to review those pages either, as it has
no authority to see the content of information excluded because of
It shouldn't be this way. At the very least, the Information
Commissioner should have the power to view "cabinet confidences"
and rule for herself whether or not they should be legitimately
excluded from the public's view. She cannot. And remember that this
wasn't even a government bill. So why did the PCO invoke cabinet
Look at what the Department of Justice wrote in a document called
Strengthening the Access to Information Act.
"A statutory amendment could be enacted to grant the
Information Commissioner a limited right of review of the issuance of
certificates by the Clerk of the Privy Council, therefore ensuring
the Information Commissioner's review of the Cabinet confidence
This is a golden opportunity for an MP to introduce a private
member's bill to table such an amendment. One wouldn't even have to
be pro-life to support it. This would be about effective oversight to
increase government accountability and transparency. It would get all