While the Town of Erin, Ontario, has been named as the Most Secretive Municipal Government in Canada, the City of Cranbrook is right there in the mix.
Cranbrook received an “Honorable Mention” in the annual “Code Of Silence” awards, presented by the by the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University, News Media Canada and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
The Code of Silence Awards call public attention to governments and government departments and agencies that put extra effort into denying public access to information to which the public has a right under access to information legislation, according to a press release from the Centre of Free Expression, announcing the winners this week.
Erin, Ontario, was awarded top dog status in this regard. The jury also indicated five other municipalities that, thanks to similar achievements in government secrecy, deserve honourable mentions: Cranbrook, B.C., Morinville, Alta., North Bay, Ont., Cornwall, Ont., and Côte-Saint-Luc, Que.
The awards jury, which comprised representatives of the four press-freedom advocacy groups, recognized the Town of Erin with this citation:
“It has become commonplace for The Town of Erin to refuse to be transparent with the media and therefore local residents on even basic matters of public interest. Local officials regularly avoid interviews with the media, insist that all communications from media must go through a recently hired communications officer, and Chief Administrative Officer and only by email. Even these requests are then dodged or refused. Worse yet, Erin officials have failed to inform the media of meetings at which major decisions will be made.
“In response to a large number of senior staff and department heads being fired a couple of years ago staff at the Wellington Advertiser submitted FOI requests for details of severance payments. Erin refused these requests and Erin Mayor Allan Alls told the media they would not release these details unless forced to by the commissioner.”