You Have the Right to Know

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Each year on September 28th, Canada, along with approximately 40 other countries, celebrates International Right to Know Day. The purpose of Right to Know Day is to raise awareness about the public’s right to access information held by public bodies and to highlight the importance of transparent and accessible government. 

The origins of Right to Know Day date back 13 years to an international meeting of access advocates in Sofia, Bulgaria on September 28, 2002. It was proposed that the date be dedicated to the promotion of access to information worldwide. In Canada, we celebrate this day as part of the Right to Know Week, which runs from September 28 to October 4.

Today, more than 60 countries have access to information legislation and additional countries are working towards developing such laws.

Why celebrate the right to know?

Freedom of information carries much more meaning than the public’s right to access government records – it empowers individuals to meaningfully participate in the democratic process and is an important means of holding governments accountable to their citizens. Although federal access to information legislation was enacted more than 30 years ago in Canada, the movement is ongoing and continues to make advancements, such as prompting the proactive disclosure of government records.  Like many other human rights, freedom of information requires vigilance.

"As we celebrate Right to Know, I want to stress how important this right is. Canadians should not take it for granted. It is the role and the responsibility of all of us to champion the cause of transparency and to nurture a culture of openness in Canada."

-Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner of Canada

For information about Right to Know events in Canada and around the world, visit the Right to Know website or follow #RTKD2015 on Twitter.

At the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, we aspire to the highest standards of good governance, of which transparency is a key component. To learn more about the Museum’s Access to Information program, see Transparency or contact atip [at] humanrights.ca.  Informal requests for information are also encouraged and may be directed to info [at] humanrights.ca or maureen.fitzhenry [at] humanrights.ca (media only).

[Source: Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada]