OTTAWA - A new study ranks Canada dead last when it comes to freedom of information.

Published research by a pair of British academics looking at how well freedom-of-information laws operate in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Great Britain and Canada -- all of them parliamentary democracies -- judged Canada the least open.

New Zealand topped the list, and Canada brought up the rear because its legislation is ineffective and archaic.

The findings published in the journal Government Information Quarterly echo a similar Canadian study from 1998 that showed Canada performs poorly when compared with freedom-of-information laws around the globe.

Critics say the findings are not a surprise, pointing to growing delays in responses to information requests from the public.

And they say it marks a reversal from a decade ago, when Canada was seen as a global leader in freedom of information.