Oh Yeah! We're rock bottom!
In terms of information regulation, that is. Turns out a couple of British academics were comparing the freedom of information laws between several parliamentary countries and we lost to everybody. Well, four others anyway. But saying last out of five does not provoke the kind of outraged horror the newspapers want us all to engage in.
I will confess, the idea that our dearly held notion of questioning the government is being called into question is a fairly uncomfortable idea; they even specified that it marked a reversal of the earlier view that Canada was a "global leader" in information regulation, but precisely who it is who feels this way is not stated, and whether that view was merited or a side-effect of the notion that Canada is a big, open, friendly country, so they could not possibly have strict information laws, is not addressed.
What else is not addressed is how the study was conducted, what the ratings were, or how big of a gap is significant. It is one thing to say we are communist China next to Sweden, but it is quite another to compare Finland and Sweden. Some perspective would be cool, but is apparently too much to ask.
Apparently this is nothing new, however; a 2009 study by a French group showed the same downward trend, and marked us 19th (out of 175), down six places from 13th. One of the top three spots, it is interesting, was given to Ireland, one of the countries we lost to this year. Various speculations were given for the fall, but these were all temporary considerations of lawsuits that might affect the score. It was, again, never addressed how the ratings were gathered or assessed.
To be honest, I'm not sure I am going to panic just yet. Especially considering who our opposition was (The United States was not including, but we have historically ranked better than them) and that the main explanation given for the placing was because there were too many delays in processing information requests; a problem, to be sure, but not the dire, gestapo-like societal chains I had pictured from the news report.