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Meet Senator

James Cowan

The Hon. James  Cowan, Q.C., B.A., LL.B., LL.M., LL.D. Senator James Cowan has greatly influenced the educational and legal communities of Nova Scotia. He was appointed to the Senate on March 24, 2005 by the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin.

Statements & Hansard

Access to Information Act

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Statement made on 22 April 2009 by Senator Tommy Banks (retired)

Hon. Tommy Banks:

Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. During Question Period on March 25, 2009, in response to a question by Senator Fox, she said:

Recent actions taken include developing a framework to strengthen information management across government because that is part of the problem. Different departments process these requests differently. There is an excess of paper in some departments and there is no cross-government management.

Minister, until recently there was highly efficient cross-government management of information and cross-departmental coordination of access to information requests. It was called the Co-ordination of Access to Information Requests System, or CAIRS, and was created in a brilliant move by the Progressive Conservative government of Mr. Mulroney in 1989. However, the government of the honourable leader did not think that it was a good idea and has axed CAIRS because, as a Treasury Board official explained at the time, extensive consultation showed that the program was not valued by government departments. However, there were uses for CAIRS other than by government departments, for example to enhance openness and accountability. Apparently, Robert Makichuk, the government spokesman, did not think so because he said:

. . . the valuable resources currently being used to maintain CAIRS would be better used in the collection and analysis of improved statistical reporting.

We have all heard a great deal in our respective offices about requests for access to information, but no one is beating down my door to ask for better analysis of statistical reporting. CAIRS was an inconvenience, so it has been made to disappear — people kept asking questions.

Will the minister undertake at the next Conservative government cabinet meeting to urge the Prime Minister to rejuvenate that valuable program with its openness, its accountability and its precious access to information from government?

Please click here to read the full text of the Senator's question

Recent Statements from Liberal Senators

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Bill

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Lillian Eva Dyck | Honourable senators, I would like to say a few words about this motion. I am definitely in support of it. The idea of a First Nations education act is critically important to the welfare of First Nations across Canada, and especially to our young people.

Income Inequality

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette | What does the government intend to do to learn from the financial crisis, reduce wealth inequality, and follow the lead of other jurisdictions that have started to rein in compensation that has nothing to do with the productivity of the people who earn the average salary of a Canadian in half a day?

Broadcast of Senate Proceedings

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Grant Mitchelll | What is the leader's personal opinion about televising the Senate?

National Pharmacare

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Art Eggleton | That was supported unanimously in the Senate, so I take it, senator, that you would be willing to now advance this idea to the government.

National Pharmacare

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator James Cowan | My question is: Will this government put National Pharmacare on the agenda?
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