The federal department of finance, headed by minister Bill Morneau, is the 2018 recipient of the Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the federal category.
The award is given annually by The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University (CFE), News Media Canada and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) to call public attention to government departments and agencies that put extra effort into denying public access to government information to which the public has a right under access to information legislation.
The awards jury, which comprised representatives of the four press-freedom advocacy groups, was convinced by this nomination from an Ottawa-based journalist:
Canadians should have a right to know how the federal government is spending their money. That’s why Ottawa’s refusal to provide details of an apparent decision to forgive a large, unpaid taxpayer loan is so vexing—and worthy of this year’s Code of Silence Award. CBC News freedom of information specialist Dean Beeby uncovered a heavily-censored memo revealing that decision, which was approved by Finance Minister Bill Morneau. The government has repeatedly refused to say how much that loan was for and to whom it was given. But it’s likely that the amount is connected to the government’s $13.7-billion bailout of the auto-sector industry following the 2009 global financial crisis.
Beeby’s subsequent reporting on this file revealed the government forgave a $1.1-billion loan that, as he had predicted, was connected to the auto bailout.