Brokering Access Beyond the Border and in the Wild: Comparing Freedom of Information Law and Policy in Canada and the United States


Contributing to literature on jurisdictional variation in freedom of information (FOI) law and policy, we draw from accounts of experiences of FOI requests submitted to police agencies in nine Canadian provinces and ten US states. We conceptualize these experiences using notions of “brokering access,” “law in the wild,” and “feral law.” Our findings demonstrate key differences in how public police agencies store, prepare, and disclose information at municipal and provincial/state levels in Canada and the US, meaning that FOI‐related feral lawyering in Canada and the United States differs and fluctuates because of the variation in the mode of contact with FOI coordinators, fee estimate practices, and procedures for and responsiveness to appeals. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of our findings for methodological and sociolegal literature about FOI requests and for provincial/state FOI policies in both countries.

Law & Policy, 39(3)