Food for Thought: Law, Society, and Access to Information

Our final class focused on the socio-legal dimensions of secrecy and access to information.

I have three final ‘food for thought’ questions. You may choose to compose a post in response to one of these questions.

Food for thought:

Option 1: Locate and briefly discuss one call for the reform of Canada’s Access to Information Act. This could take the form of a government report, an NGO report, a media article, or an academic article. Drawing on one or more socio-legal theories, explain why the federal government has not reformed the ATIA in response to this call. For example, you could reflect on the functions of ATI/FOI laws, the relationship secrecy and bureaucracy, the ideology of Access, or the relationship between ATI/FOI and sovereign power.

Option 2: ATI/FOI mechanisms recognize and facilitate a legal right to access public records. It is – by definition – lawful to file an ATI/FOI request. However, some students, when first introduced to the topic of ATI/FOI, have expressed a concern that filing a request might ‘put them on the radar’ or identify them as ‘people to watch out for’. They have noted that this is of particular concern to those who plan to seek employment within government (ex. as police officers). Drawing on one or more socio-legal theories, comment on this concern. Explain the ‘theory of law’ (and of the state) that may inform such a concern.

Option 3: Comack (2006) explains the functionalist, liberal-pluralist, and Marxist perspectives on the Official Version of Law. Drawing on her analysis, and on your knowledge of socio-legal theory, provide an overview of how ATI/FOI laws might be explained by functionalists, liberal-pluralists, and Marxists.

Posts prepared in response to one of these questions must be submitted before the end of the day on Saturday Dec. 7.

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