Without publicity, no good is permanent; under the auspices of publicity, no evil can continue.

- Jeremy Bentham, 1768


Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

- James Madison, fourth American president


Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show it can bear discussion and publicity.

- Lord Acton


The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.

- Patrick Henry, American colonial revolutionary


In more ways than we often realize, information is becoming the lifeblood of our society. Information has immeasurable value and it can be used to one person's advantage or another's cost.

- "Finding A Balance," training video for BC FOIPP officials


Bureaucracy always seeks the path of least disclosure.

- Darrell Evans, FIPA


A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both.

- James Madison, 1832


I believe that a guarantee of public access to government information is indispensable in the long run for any democratic

society.... if officials make public only what they want citizens to know, then publicity becomes a sham and accountability


- Sissela Bok, Swedish philosopher, 1982


The overarching purpose of access to information legislation … is to facilitate democracy. It does so in two related ways. It helps to ensure first, that citizens have the information required to participate meaningfully in the democratic process, and secondly, that politicians and bureaucrats remain accountable to the citizenry.

- Gerard LaForest, former Supreme Court of Canada Justice, in Dagg vs. Canada (1997)


Government ought to be all outside and no inside. . . . Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.

-         Woodrow Wilson


Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.

- Jeremy Bentham


If I had won the debate in cabinet, we wouldn't have a Freedom of Information Act.

- former B.C. premier Glen Clark


Some information has to remain in the privy of the office of the Prime Minister and the ministers for the proper

administration of government.

- Prime Minister Jean Chretien, on the Access to Information Act and the Privy Council Office. National Post, Oct. 18, 2000


After I had been confirmed as federal Information Commissioner, I met with the former Commissioner, John Grace, to

get his advice. One thing he said struck me in particular; he said that in his seven years as Privacy Commissioner and eight

years as Information Commissioner (a total of 15 years spent reviewing the records which government wanted to withhold from Canadians) he hadn't seen a really good secret. My experience is much the same over the first year of my term. For the most part, officials love secrecy because it is a tool of power and control, not because the information they hold is particularly sensitive by nature.

- John Reid, 1999


It amuses me to see the profound change in attitude about access to information which occurs when highly placed insiders suddenly find themselves on the outside. And vice versa!

- John Reid, 1999


Secrecy is for losers. . . . It is time to dismantle government secrecy, this most persuasive of Cold War-era regulations. It is time to begin building the supports for the era of openness that is already upon us.

- Senator Patrick Moynihan, Secrecy: The American Experience, 1998


[ Home ]