Canadian PM urged to loosen info secrecy

Jan. 22, 2009 at 7:38 AM

OTTAWA, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Canada's federal information commissioner is urging the prime minister to allow more transparency as ordered by new U.S. President Barack Obama.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Information Commissioner Robert Marleau praised Obama's declaration of more openness on his first day in office.

"I am thrilled to see that Mr. Obama is taking such a forceful position in the context of transparency," Marleau said. "I'm jealous, yes. Given that the president will meet Mr. Harper in the near future, I hope that they will talk about it and that the president of the United States can be an example for our own political leader."

While Obama said "transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency," Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is known in Ottawa to keep a tight rein on what his ministers and members say in public.

Marleau told the Globe Canada is moving in the opposite direction of Obama as far as transparency.

"The fog is thickening," Marleau said. "Things are clearly going backwards in the amount of information that is being released, and there is a clear increase in the use of time extensions and exemptions."

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