'Right to Know' Week
WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR AREA?
Events across Canada
SEPTEMBER 28 - OCTOBER 4, 2015
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner values the importance of Prince Edward Island residents being informed of their right to access information. Access to information plays a vital role in promoting open government. We have been given the opportunity to promote this important right during 'Right to Know' Week, held annually across this nation. During the week, events are held throughout Canada to raise awareness of our right to access government information and to promote freedom of information as a fundamental democratic right of citizens. This year, our national 'Right to Know' Week is being held from September 28 to October 4, 2015.
Grace-Pépin Access to Information Award
The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada, in collaboration with the its provincial and territorial counterparts, has created the Grace-Pépin Access to Information Award. The award is presented in memory of John Grace (1927-2009) and Marcel Pépin (1942-1999), two public figures who contributed significantly to the development and promotion of access to information principles in Canada. Award recipients will have demonstrated an exceptional contribution to the promotion and support of the principles of transparency, accountability and the public’s right to access information held by public institutions. Further details about this access to information award can be found on the national website.
The first of this prestigious award was presented to the University of Alberta's Information Access and Protection of Privacy Certificate Program (IAPP) at the Canadian Museum of Civilization by the Information Commissioner of Canada, Suzanne Legault, during the opening reception of the 7th International Conference of Information Commissioners on October 3, 2011. The IAPP Certificat Program, which is part of the Faculty of Extension, was nominated by the Canadian Access and Privacy Association.
A national logo contest was held in 2009 for a new and powerful logo to be the official identification for Canada's 'Right to Know' Week events, the official website, and all related promotional materials. The logo, as displayed at the top of this page, was created by Justin Ward from St. Albert, Alberta.
'Right to Know' Resources
The 'Right to Know' Fact Sheet is a great resource. Access other fact sheets, the logo and additional resources on the national website.
How did you do on the Right to Know Quiz? Here are the answers: Right to Know Answers
History of 'Right to Know'
Around the world, September 28th is celebrated as 'Right to Know' Day. It began in 2002 in Sofia, Bulgaria, at an international meeting of access to information advocates, who proposed that September 28th be dedicated to the promotion of freedom of information, worldwide.
We have been celebrating 'Right to Know' Week in Canada since 2006, to promote the right to information as a fundamental right of citizens and to campaign for citizen participation in open, democratic societies. Most jurisdictions throughout the country organize various activities during 'Right to Know' Week, including conferences, luncheons, public forums, award ceremonies, free workshops and essay contests. This year, we celebrate 'Right to Know' Week from September 28 to October 4, 2015, and Canadians will have the opportunity to participate in many special events nation-wide.
What is 'Right to Know' Day
'Right to Know' Day celebrates the right of individuals to access information held by public bodies. It marks the benefits of transparent, accessible government.
Over the years, there have emerged certain principles that form the core of our right to know. They are best expressed by the Open Society Justice Initiative, formed with other organizations, in honor of the 'Right to Know' Day celebrations in 2003. These ten principles are:
- Access to information is a right of everyone.
- Access is the rule – secrecy is the exception.
- The right applies to all public bodies.
- Making requests should be simple, speedy, and free.
- Officials have a duty to assist requesters.
- Refusals must be justified.
- The public interest takes precedence over secrecy.
- Everyone has the right to appeal an adverse decision.
- Public bodies should pro-actively publish core information.
- The right should be guaranteed by an independent body.
Canadian jurisdictions continue to work at carrying out these principles.
When is 'Right to Know' Day Celebrated?
'Right to Know' Day is celebrated every September 28th. It had its start on September 28, 2002, in Sofia, Bulgaria, at an international meeting of access advocates. It was proposed that the date be dedicated to the promotion of access to information worldwide.
Where is 'Right to Know' Day Celebrated?
'Right to Know’ Day is celebrated around the world. Over 60 countries have legislation promoting access to information, and more countries are in the process of developing such laws. Countries where ‘Right to Know’ Day has been commemorated include Argentina, Czech Republic, El Salvador, India, Jamaica, Latvia, Mexico, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Peru, Spain, Turkey and the USA.
Who Celebrates ‘Right to Know’ Day?
Everyone has reason to celebrate ‘Right to Know’ Day. Active participants since 2002 have included citizen groups dedicated to democratic principles, students, media, academics, policy makers and governments.
Why Celebrate ‘Right to Know’ Day?
- Access to information provides individuals with knowledge to address public issues, scrutinize government and become active participants in the democratic process.
- Access to information has revealed and clarified the basis for government decisions, disclosed environmental and health dangers and shed light on error, mismanagement and illegal activities.
- Access to information has required improved records management, prompted routine disclosure to information, promoted the duty to assist the public and resulted in better government service and efficiencies.
- Access to information requires vigilance; beyond simply having access to information legislation, there must be a commitment to a culture and spirit of openness. This includes staff and public awareness of access to information principles and appropriate resources for implementation.
- There have been many successes as a result of access to information and, as with any legislation, there are improvements to consider. This is an ideal time to reflect on right to know legislation and discuss potential improvements.
How to Celebrate ‘Right to Know’ Day?
- Read or write an article on access to information.
- Participate in a poster contest.
- Participate in a 'Right to Know' essay contest.
- Host or attend a public forum to hear speakers on the subject.
- Have an open house at a government office, library, hospital or other location where access to information is practiced every day.
Details on events happening across Canada can be found on the national 'Right to Know' website. You may also want to search the internet with the phrase "Right to Know Day" for more ideas on how to celebrate!