Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

July 11, 2007 19:32 ET

Statement by the Deputy Minister of National Defence on the Access to Information Review Process

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 11, 2007) - Several recent media stories have claimed that the Department of National Defence (DND) is blocking "any and all information about Canada's mission in Afghanistan." This is not only inaccurate and misleading, it also implies that Defence officials are somehow acting in bad faith.

Canadians expect the Department and Canadian Forces to protect the security of Canadian troops who are in harm's way, and to mitigate the risks they face as much as possible. In addressing information requests, the Department applies all appropriate procedures and Access to Information protocols; as well, departmental processes are consistent with Treasury Board guidelines.

DND has received hundreds of requests for operational information, including requests for all operational plans, planning documents, tactical techniques and procedures, and lessons learned. As a result of this unprecedented demand for sensitive information, the Strategic Joint Staff was given responsibility to review recommended severances in accordance with the standard Access to Information (ATI) process. This review allows for operational oversight that ensures consistency in the release of information; it does not constitute a change to the standard ATI process in DND. This is being done for one reason and one reason alone: to ensure there is no inadvertent release of information that could assist the enemy and put Canadian, allied or Afghan lives at greater risk.

DND fully understands its responsibilities under the Access to Information Act, and the importance of providing appropriate information to the public. There must, however, be a balance between our responsibility to make information available to the public and our responsibility to protect the lives of our men and women in uniform. The safeguarding of some information specific to the mission in Afghanistan is fundamental to the safety of Canadian and Allied personnel.

NOTE TO EDITORS:

Mr. Ward P.D. Elcock, Deputy Minister of National Defence, has authorized the release of this statement.

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