Access to Information can be time consuming and expensive. In 2011, I wrote a lot of cheques to the Government of Canada, of those cheques I wrote, the majority of which have been cashed, and I’ve spent at least $500.64 on requesting information so far, or $41/month on this hobby. I’m not including the hosting fees, which I would be paying anyway, but so far things are working out. If I don’t include the times that I paid the photocopying fee for CSIS, the amount goes down to $320, so in reality I spend $26/month requesting Government documents.
The thing is that I really don’t feel like flushing money down the toilet. With the RCMP, I’ve gotten pretty good at getting information regarding the Olympics out of them, and I’ve successfully managed to get ITAC documents twice from CSIS. The PROFUNC documents from the PCO (who have yet to cash my cheque), have caused me to launch a new site, so all of those requests are money well spent. DND isn’t bad, nor is Industry Canada or the Department of Justice. CBSA can be hit or miss, with their extreme abuse of their new found redaction power. However, nothing feels like flushing money down the drain more than sending a request to the Library and Archives Canada.
I’ve sent a few requests to Library and Archives Canada, and so far all of them have come back empty. The reason I’m interested in the LAC is because they currently hold the CSIS fond which includes the RCMP Security Service records. This would help in beefing up the documents here with historical context. I discussed this recently with a friend, and he directed me to the Library and Archives Canada site which talks about the Fond</a>.
(Note: A fond is a collection of records in an Archive. Fonds are named after the source of the material, and they usually have a MARC description such as the link above. I once worked at an archive.)</em>
I find it interesting that the RCMP and CSIS collectively have over a kilometer of documents stored, and only 22.6 MB of these documents are stored electronically. There are also 5466 microfiche pieces.
Of course, in conjunction with the new regulations by the Treasury Board (proof Tony Clement isn’t totally clueless)</em>, they are required to have their completed ATIPs here</a>. The results aren’t super inspiring:
A-2009-00041 and A-2009-00046 are two years old when they finally get released in 2011, and were most likely requested by a news outlet to compare the 1976 Olympic Games to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The thing is that asking about PROFUNC from the PCO could have gotten me a lot of the same information a lot faster. There’s also the photocopying fee required in producing these documents (0.20/page), which makes this weigh in at 117.80 and 307.60 respectively. Files 306 to 308 are also late, and are not nearly as voluminous.
What’s interesting is what is kept out. For example, on February 2011</a>, the request A-2010-00294, which directly refers to the PROFUNC program is exempted in its entirety, even though I’m certain that I possess a copy of the exact same thing that I got from the PCO. It seems that the more I look at the list, the more people are researching the full impact of the PROFUNC program, which is good. I would love to have this information documented and in a searchable index so that people could search it for free, since it would be good to give people some closure when it comes to state surveillance. While it may not stop the state from spying on you, the fact that you know who it is that is spying on you does help keep the fear of paranoia in check.
If you want to know if any of my requests are on here, A-2011-00341</a> is the first request that I sent to the LAC. Since we know that Spartacus Books was under surveillance in 2010, I decided to check back at the beginning. Perhaps I should have removed the world surveillance from my request.