OTTAWA, February 24, 2020 / CNW / – The Town of Erin, Ont., is the 2019 recipient of the Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the Municipal Government category.
The award is presented annually by the Canadian Association of Journalists (ACJ), Center for Freedom of Expression at Ryerson University (CFE), News Media Canada and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) to draw public attention to government departments and agencies that are making additional efforts to deny the public access to government information to which the public is entitled under access to information legislation.
The award jury, made up of representatives of the four press freedom groups, recognized the City of Erin with this quote:
It has become commonplace for the City of Erin refuse to be transparent with the media and therefore with local residents, even on matters of fundamental public interest. Local officials routinely avoid interviews with the media, insist that all media communications should go through a newly hired communications officer and administrative manager and only by email. Even these requests are then evaded or refused. Even worse, Erine officials have not informed the media of meetings in which important decisions will be made.
In response to the dismissal of a large number of senior executives and department heads a few years ago, Wellington Advertiser staff submitted FOI requests for details on severance pay. Erine refused these requests and Erine Mayor Allan Alls told the media they would not release these details unless forced to do so by the commissioner.
The jury also pointed to five other municipalities which, thanks to similar achievements in government secrecy, deserve honorable mentions: Cranbrook, BC, Morinville, Alberta., North Bay, Ont., Cornwall, Ont., and Coast-Saint-Luc, Que.
CAJ, CFE, News Media Canada and CJFE will announce the recipient of the Code of Silence award in the Federal, Provincial and Law Enforcement categories in the coming weeks.
The four organizations will continue to advocate for substantive reform to from Canada Federal law on access to information.
SOURCE Canadian Association of Journalists
For further information: Karyn Pugliese, President of the CAJ, [email protected]; James Turk, Director of the CFE, 613.277.0488, [email protected]