Using the Access to Information Act: How to Cut through Government Bureaucracy


135 pages
ISBN 0-88908-589-7




Reviewed by Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor is a journalism professor at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Institute and founding editor of the CBRA.


Both authors are lawyers who have written about the Access to Information Act, serving as members of or consultants to such groups as the Ontario Commission on Freedom of Information or the Canadian Bar Association’s Special Committee on Freedom of Information. In itself, this is a bargain book, not only for its price but also for its tips. The base material here is readily available for free in many public libraries, which have the official government guidebooks and forms for potential users. The actual “how to” is not involved; what is frustrating in using the Act (and what this book is good for) is the advice on how to find what you want, what to do about long waits, how to appeal, and some of the tactics used by government to stonewall (and how you can overcome these). There are also charts of exempted files (although these might have changed since the time of the book’s original publication in June 1984). In Canada, along with Britain, it seems as if everything in government is confidential unless it has been declared open. Under the Freedom of Information Act in the United States, the opposite is true. What is needed here is for every lawyer, journalist, and detective in the country to fill out the forms and inundate the government: that will show the feds how picayune their withholding really is.


Mitchell, Heather, and Murray Rankin, “Using the Access to Information Act: How to Cut through Government Bureaucracy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,