Access to Information and Social Justice combines the political and the practical aspects of Access to Information (ATI) research into a single volume in order to help invigorate critical social science, investigative journalism, and activism in Canada. Not only does it expose some of the most important political stories and issues uncovered by ATI researchers in recent years, it also facilitates future investigations by demonstrating, in concrete ways, how any citizen can effectively use ATI requests in their work and in their capacity as socially engaged citizens.

Edited by Jamie Brownlee and Kevin Walby, contributors to this book include award-winning journalists and prominent academics, as well as activists working on the frontlines of social and environmental justice in Canada.

Other contributors: Robert Cribb (Foreword), Franke James, Dean Jobb, Michael-Anthony Lutfy, Alex Luscombe, Jeffrey Monaghan, Christopher Parsons, Justin Piché, Keith Stewart, Kyla Tanner, Leslie Young.

It’s time to expand public awareness about how the right to know is being deliberately undermined, often with smug condescension, in ways that centralize power through the control of information. It’s time for a thoughtful national debate on the legislative mechanisms designed to empower us all to seek answers. That’s why this book matters.

Robert Cribb, Toronto Star

Subject Political Science/Canadian, Public Policy/ Communication Policy, Political Process/Political Advocacy
Published October 2015
Price $19.95 CDN
Pages 224 pp (Paper)
Dimensions 6″ × 9″ × 0.70″
ISBN-10 1894037677
ISBN-13 9781894037679

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About the Editors

Jamie Brownlee is the author of Academia, Inc.: How Corporatization is Transforming Canadian Universities (2015, Fernwood) and Ruling Canada: Corporate Cohesion and Democracy (2005, Fernwood). He holds a PhD in Sociology and Political Economy from Carleton University. Using information collected through Access to Information requests, his doctoral research examined the influence of corporate power in the sphere of higher education.

Kevin Walby is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Winnipeg. He is the author of Touching Encounters: Sex, Work, and Male-for-Male Internet Escorting(2012, University of Chicago Press), the co-author of Municipal Corporate Security in International Context (2015, Routledge), and the co-editor of Brokering Access: Power, Politics, and Freedom of Information Process in Canada (2012, UBC Press) and Policing Cities: Urban Securitization and Regulation (2013, Routledge). He is also the Prisoners’ Struggles editor for the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons.


Robert Cribb is an award-winning investigative reporter at the Toronto Star. He has received national reporting awards and citations for investigations into child exploitation, human trafficking, dangerous doctors, and public health threats and has received the Massey Journalism Fellowship, the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy Reporting, and the Michener-Deacon Fellowship. Cribb is past president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, current president of the CAJ’s Educational Foundation, and co-author of Digging Deeper: A Canadian Reporter’s Research Guide (Oxford University Press). He teaches investigative reporting at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism and the University of Toronto.

Franke James is a Canadian artist, author, and activist who draws inspiration from the Canadian government’s attempts to silence her. In Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship (2013), James describes how she discovered she was being censured for her role in speaking out on climate change and the Alberta tar sands—and how she fought back. In 2015, James won the inaugural PEN Canada/Ken Filkow Prize for showing courage in freeing information and ideas from restraint or interference. In 2014, the BC Civil Liberties Association presented James with its Excellence in the Arts award for her creative fight for free expression and social justice. Banned on the Hill has been recognized by winning Gold at the 2014 Independent Book Publishers Awards, a Silver at the IndieFab Book of the Year Awards, and Gold at the 2015 eLit Awards. James is also the author of two other books, Bothered by My Green Conscience (2009) and Dear Office-Politics (2009).

Dean Jobb is an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax. He is the author of Media Law for Canadian Journalists, 2nd ed. (Emond Montgomery Publications 2011) and co-author of Digging Deeper: A Canadian Reporter’s Research Guide, 3rd ed. (Oxford University Press 2015). An award-winning writer and journalist, he has published six other books including Empire of Deception: From Chicago to Nova Scotia – The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation (HarperCollins Canada 2015). Jobb is the former freedom of information and protection of privacy officer for King’s College. He also chaired an advisory committee that reviewed Nova Scotia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Michael-Anthony Lutfy completed his undergraduate degree in criminology with a concentration in forensic psychology and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in the Department of Law & Legal Studies at Carleton University. His research interests include the policing and regulation of dissent, social movements, security-intelligence, and continental philosophy. Currently, Lufty is experimenting with sustainable indoor and outdoor urban vegetable gardening.

Alex Luscombe is a Master of Arts candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University. His research interests include military sociology, criminology, and law. His SSHRC-funded Master’s research, which incorporates records released under the United States’ Freedom of Information Act, investigates strategies of public deception in an Anglo-American Cold War intelligence operation. Luscombe’s work has been published in the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, where he used access to information disclosures to research the policing of Occupy Ottawa, and in Police Practice & Research: An International Journal, where he assessed the usefulness of access to information requests for research on national security agencies. His work also appears in Municipal Corporate Security in International Context (Routledge 2015).

Jeffrey Monaghan teaches criminology in Ottawa. As a frequent user of the Access to Information Act, he has published on a wide range of contemporary issues related to policing and security practices in academic journals such as Policing and Society, the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Current Sociology, Security Dialogue, and Surveillance and Society. Combining ATI research with security expert interviews, his PhD research examined the export of Canadian policing and security practices abroad. Monaghan’s chapter in this volume represents a reflection on the hundreds of ATI requests he filed during the course of his dissertation research.

Christopher Parsons received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Guelph, and his PhD from the University of Victoria. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Citizen Lab in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, as well as Managing Director of the Telecom Transparency Project at the Citizen Lab. His research focuses on how privacy is affected by digitally mediated surveillance, and the normative implications that corporate and government surveillance has in (and on) Western political systems. Parsons is currently investigating the rationales, practices and politics of third-party access to telecommunications data. In addition to academic publishing, he routinely presents his findings to members of the government and the media. He is also a Privacy by Design Ambassador and a Principal at Block G Privacy and Security Consulting.

Justin Piché is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa and managing editor of the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. Piché has used access to information research to expose the Conservative government’s crime and punishment agenda, and mobilize and circulate information about new prison capacity expansion in Canada. His current research explores carceral expansion and abolitionist alternatives in the Canadian context, public criminology and social movements, and cultural representations of confinement and punishment in penal history museums. Recent publications include a chapter in Brokering Access: Power, Politics, and Freedom of Information Process in Canada (2012) and articles in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society (2011), Penal Field (2014), and Social Justice (2015).

Keith Stewart leads Greenpeace Canada’s climate and energy campaign, which is focused on stopping the expansion of the tar sands and accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels by building an equitable and sustainable energy system. He holds a PhD in political science from York University and is currently a part-time faculty member at the University of Toronto where he teaches on energy policy and the environment. Stewart has worked as an energy policy analyst and advocate for the last sixteen years, including on successful campaigns to phase out coal-fired power plants and enact a green energy act in Ontario.

Kyla Tanner is a graduate student at York University where she is completing her Master’s degree in Environmental Studies. Her work focuses on environmental policy and she is currently conducting research on how the Canadian news media reports on federal climate change policy decisions. Tanner is a volunteer with Greenpeace Canada and eMERGE Guelph, and has worked as a policy analyst with the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development and Environment Canada in Ottawa.

Leslie Young is a Canadian investigative and data journalist. Her written work has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail, Zeit Online, and Global News, and her television and radio stories on CBC Radio and PBS. She has won local and national awards for investigative and digital reporting as well as an Emmy Award for best investigative feature in a television news magazine. Young has reported from sewage plants in Vancouver, Parliament Hill in Ottawa, a refugee camp in Jordan, and villages in the former East Germany. She currently works for Global News in Toronto, writing news stories and creating interactive features for their website.