True north strong and not so free
A British study on freedom-of-information laws within five parliamentary democracies has ranked Canada at the back of the pack. Our nation came last in the ranking which examined stats related to factors, like delays or appeals, affecting government release of information, the Toronto Star reported. The study, published in Government Information Quarterly, saw Canada lose out to Ireland and three of its Commonwealth companions: Australia, the United Kingdom and first place finisher New Zealand. Authors Robert Hazell and Ben Worthy, of London’s University College, criticized Canada’s system as antiquated, noting in particular the lack of an online system for filing access to information requests and paying fees.
Key Porter locked down
Canadian publishing company Key Porter Books, which has represented the likes of Margaret Atwood and Conrad Black, announced last Friday that publishing of any new titles would be temporarily halted. In a statement released by the publisher, the reason given for the suspension of production was the consideration of “a number of restructuring options,” and possibly selling part of its catalogue of works. The Bolton, Ont.-based company has had a rough go of it as of late, having laid off nearly two-thirds of staff, 11 employees, this past September. Key Porter was founded in 1979 and has released approximately 100 Canadian non-fiction works every year as of late.
Canadian prof cracking the Da Vinci Code?
After nearly a decade of effort, a former Queen’s University professor believes he has found some of the hidden literary references within Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, CTV news reported. Ross Kilpatrick, a classics professor emeritus, has accumulated what he feels is concrete evidence that da Vinci was influenced in his painting by the poetry of two Renaissance figures: Horace, a Roman, and Petrarch of Florence. The references, Kilpatrick asserts, in an article published in Italian journal MEDICEA, were incorporated into the scenery behind the iconic smiling figure of Mona Lisa. He describes how both Horace’s Ode to 1.22 and Petrarch’s Canzoniere CXLV and CLIX refer not only to a smiling young woman, but also to “dreary mountains and sun-scorched deserts” in what are seemingly accurate descriptions of the scenery in the painting.
Report recommends RCMP oversight board
A report looking into reform of the RCMP has concluded that the national police force should be operated separately from the federal government. The RCMP Reform Implementation Council, created by the Harper government four years ago, released its final report last Wednesday in which it said the organization was developing too slowly and must re-examine its management structure in order to regain public trust. The council’s suggestion to the government was that an independent management board be created as a sort of oversight committee to monitor internal issues the RCMP faces, among other matters. The council also advised the force employ greater transparency with the public, especially in times of difficulty. The mandate of the RIC officially ended on Dec. 19.