The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent ruling that the Ontario government can shield the premier’s mandate letters from public disclosure highlights more than ever the democratic imperative for transparency and public access to information.

In Order PO-3973, my predecessor ordered the cabinet office to publicly disclose Premier Doug Ford’s 2018 mandate letters containing directions to cabinet ministers on implementing the government’s policy priorities. The lower court and Ontario’s Court of Appeal upheld the order, but the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the attorney general by striking it down.

Going forward, the Supreme Court’s decision has significant implications for how we strike an appropriate balance between the public's right to know and the government's need to protect its deliberations in the interest of candour, solidarity and efficiency.

Access-to-information rights are the foundation upon which democracy is built. Information empowers citizens to engage meaningfully with their governments, hold them accountable and ensure their actions and decisions reflect the will and needs of the people they serve.

While we were disappointed with the outcome, we respect the judiciary's role in interpreting the law and will abide by its direction in shaping our future work. The Supreme Court’s decision impels us to assess how we will continue to advance the principles of openness and accountability within the framework articulated by the court.

We’re at a turning point.

The proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI technologies, combined with the ever-present challenges of misinformation and disinformation, make the need for transparency and access to reliable sources of information more pressing than ever. These technologies have the power to shape public opinion, influence political outcomes and impact individual lives. In this environment, ensuring the public has access to accurate and timely government-held information about present and historical decisions and events is key to maintaining the integrity of our democratic processes and upholding trust in our public institutions.

The freedom-of-information (FOI) process is but one means for the public to access the information they need, but it is generally a long and laborious one. Last October, together with my federal, provincial and territorial counterparts, we urged our respective governments to modernize access-to-information legislation, promote stronger information management practices and summon the courage it takes to build a culture of openness and transparency through proactive disclosure.

Against this backdrop, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) is proud to announce the launch of its second Transparency Challenge. Through this initiative, we invite Ontario's public institutions to highlight their innovative approaches to enhancing government transparency and leveraging open data.

The proliferation of #AI, generative AI technologies and the challenges of #misinformation and #disinformation make the need for transparency and access to reliable sources more pressing than ever, writes Patricia Kosseim @IPCinfoprivacy

With the Transparency Challenge, we want to demonstrate the critical role transparency plays in countering misinformation, fostering civic engagement, addressing social problems and building public trust.

Organizations rose to our first challenge, sharing some great projects. These included an interactive tool to help travellers get to their destinations safely and an online navigation tool to help electors get easier access to information about candidates’ platforms to inform their voting decisions in the context of municipal elections.

This year, we are interested in seeing not only open data or open government projects or initiatives, but we are also looking for model examples that demonstrate how institutions are being transparent about how they collect, use and disclose Ontarians’ personal data.

In our digital age, where data privacy and security are of utmost concern in the face of rising cybercrime, openness about personal information management practices is crucial for maintaining public trust in government operations.

We encourage all public sector organizations subject to Ontario’s access and privacy laws to participate in the Transparency Challenge and bring forward other innovative, creative, inclusive projects that have tangibly positive impacts on the lives of Ontarians.

We will shine a light on these projects through our Transparency Showcase — an online 3D gallery featuring inspiring examples of modern and impactful transparency projects from across the public sector.

As we move forward, the IPC remains committed to the ongoing promotion of access rights and greater transparency. We continue to adapt our strategies to align with the evolving law on FOI, while also pursuing our mission to proactively advance the public’s right to know in other positive and creative ways.

We are at a critical point in society where the principles of transparency and access to information are more vital than ever. I’m confident Ontario’s public sector institutions will embrace this opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to these principles and explore new and innovative ways to advance them — not because the law tells them so, but because they understand the importance of doing it anyway.

For more information on the Transparency Challenge, visit our website at

Patricia Kosseim is Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner.

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Comes a time when ever bit of legislation winds up in a court to decide if it passes the Charter bar or the smell test. Playing one judge off another or seeing how the Conservatives are picking up the delay, delay, delay tactic from Donald J Trump is really annoying. Something needs to be done, even the Federal Liberals said no to (M-86 Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform) non binding fact finding group to give ideas to the government for better representation, I am just not a happy voter and will most likely cast my vote for someone other than that Liberal or Conservative candidate.

1) Most likely the Supreme Court ruled as they did because they themselves do not want to reveal or discuss/defend their decisions in a public way.
2) FOI laws/policies have been honoured more in the breach than in the compliance; either by outright refusal or excessive redaction.
3) Governments everywhere democratic or dictatorial prefer to keep their cards closely held before, during and after policy decisions or new laws are crafted and announced. Better to act first and explain later. Equally true of religions, or any other institution seeking/preserving power. Secrecy is the lackey of power.
4) every sitting or aspiring government in waiting has a public face(agenda) and its hidden face (agenda). What is hidden is bound to be unpopular with some faction of voters, maybe even a majority of voters. The game being played is always to out wit the voters most especially ones opponents.

Age old, universal. which is why investigative journalism exists but is always under attack.

"the need for transparency and access to reliable sources of information [is] more pressing than ever." So who certifies the truth? AI could forge government emails as easily as star pornography.
"Who guards the guardians" is both a moral and practical question in urgent need of answers. Recent testimony by civil servants in the ArriveCan fiasco is not encouraging in either case.