Canada FOI Resource Website

By Stanley Tromp, Vancouver
Freedom of information policy, study, law reform, journalism

A non-governmental resource site

Comments on the ATIA News Story Index (2021)

The ATIA News Story Index is a great and inspiring resource for anyone who is unfamiliar with Canada’s access to information system, or familiar with it and frustrated by its many loopholes and flaws.   It not only highlights the hard work that many journalists have done using the system (flawed as it is) to reveal information government institutions were trying to hide, it also points to many other situations and institutions in Canada that need to be investigated in the same way, and also reveals the many loopholes and flaws in the system that need to be corrected.

Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch

This is an enormously useful initiative. For years, many in the right to information community have noted a need to do a better job of explaining to the public why transparency mechanisms are so important. This database helps to demonstrate to the world what journalists, civil society advocates, and virtually everyone else who works in the public accountability business knows: that a robust right to information is critical to supporting strong public oversight over our institutions of governance.

Michael Karanicolas, lawyer, Wikimedia Fellow, Yale Law School

Nowhere will you find a more complete collection of evidence that so clearly demonstrates how access to government records matters to real people, good governance, and democracy. Stanley Tromp’s compilation is a treasure trove for journalists looking for story ideas, and more importantly, provides definitive proof to the entire world that access to information laws work, that they must be protected, and that they must be improved.

David Cuillier, associate professor, University of Arizona School of Journalism, and president, U.S. National Freedom of Information Coalition

Too few reporters use FOI laws, and those hardy souls who do venture down that path can quickly sour on the process. Governments have tremendous power over information, and will not willingly relinquish it, no matter what a transparency law requires. Journalists struggle in a grossly unequal war of attrition, as legions of public servants search for excuses to deny and delay.

Stanley Tromp’s heroic work reminds us – not just those in the news business but all Canadians – that dedicated journalists have never given up the fight and have sometimes emerged victorious. They have uncovered stories of corruption, fraud, incompetence, waste, threats to health and safety, and more. Those stories are gathered here as a reminder of the importance of this branch of journalism, as a morale booster to weary reporters, and surely as inspiration to new generations to take up the struggle themselves. Thank you, Stanley, for this monumental undertaking

Dean Beeby, former CBC and Canadian Press FOI journalist

Stanley Tromp is one of Canada’s foremost advocates for access to information.  This database is an excellent resource for anyone who is working to advance the ideal of open government.

Alasdair Roberts, lawyer, Director, School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Great work, Stanley! These records serve as a “morale booster” for those of us who struggle to keep using ATI while trying to pass along its virtues — warts and all — to a new generation of journalists.  Thanks for sharing these wonderful resources. They provide proof that the system can work.

David McKie, CBC reporter and journalism professor, Carleton University

The ATIA News Story Index is an incredible resource of the news stories produced by journalists and others using Canada’s access to information law. It not only showcases the invaluable role this law has played in generating some of the most probing news stories over the last 35 years. It should also serve as an incubator for news story ideas for up-and-coming journalists

Toby Mendel, lawyer, executive director, Centre for Law and Democracy, Halifax

This is fantastic stuff Stanley. Thanks so much for compiling it.

Sean Holman, associate professor of journalism at Mount Royal University

Reviews of the report Fallen Behind: Canada’s Access to Information Act in the World Context (2nd ed., 2020)

This report is by far the most comprehensive comparative analysis to date of Canadian and international access to information laws. It is an invaluable resource to those seeking to assess the various Canadian laws in this area, and indeed to anyone interested in comparative research in this area.

Toby Mendel, law program director of London-based human rights organization Article 19

I’ve now had the opportunity to review your report. I want to congratulate you for this initiative, its quality and exhaustive scholarly content. It will stand as a significant reference for all who are interested in the FOI field, but more importantly for those who advocate that Canada should be at the forefront as a governance model for the rest of the world.

Robert Marleau, Information Commissioner of Canada

In the fall, with Right to Know Week, your report might well be an important catalyst as the centerpiece of the week. This is a very good piece of work – I learned a great deal from it myself.

John Reid, former Information Commissioner of Canada

Collecting and analyzing information about the burgeoning number of open government laws is extraordinarily hard work.  Stanley Tromp has provided a valuable service is showing the emerging international standards, and what Canada must do to regain its status as a leader on transparency.

Alasdair Roberts, Jerome L. Rappaport Professor of Law and Public Service, Suffolk University Law School, Boston, author of Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age. (New York: Cambridge U.P, 2006)

Stanley Tromp has done us all a great service in compiling this thoughtful analysis of freedom of information law and policy around the world.  Its remarkable scope and its detailed analysis of the key issues are staggering. His spread sheet, World FOI Chart, alone is worth the price of admission. In a sense, he has become our conscience in this crucial policy field. . . .  Freedom of information is a right worth fighting for.  Stanley Tromp has been a real champion of this right: he leads the way for the rest of us to follow.

T. Murray Rankin, QC, MLA, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Victoria, author of Freedom of Information in Canada: Will the Doors Stay Shut? (Ottawa: Canadian Bar Association, 1977)

From the comparative law perspective, Mr. Tromp’s report is an extremely valuable resource document, containing a large amount of interesting information regarding FOI regimes around the world.

Internal memo prepared by counsel for Public Law Policy Section, Canadian Department of Justice. Dec. 15, 2008

This will be a key reference globally for those fighting for freedom of information.  It’s thoroughly researched and very clearly written. This is a significant achievement in the field.

David Loukidelis, British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner