Last year, the BC Liberal party was required to return $20,355 in prohibited donations it had collected, including $12,633 from Simon Fraser University, $300 from Vancouver-False Creek Liberal candidate Sam Sullivan's Global Civic Policy Society, and $850 from the Prince George Airport Authority. The NDP didn't report any donation returns in 2012. From 2006 to 2011, the Liberals had to return 22 prohibited donations it received from charities, while the NDP returned two. Such donations are prohibited under both the B.C. Election Act and federal legislation. The Liberals also reported remitting $4,920 to Elections BC in membership fees the party had collected in its 2011 filing, the same year Christy Clark was elected leader. It's an amount that represents an estimated 492 incomplete membership applications.
In B.C. and across Canada, the past 12 months have seen information rights make headlines on a regular basis. And usually not in a good way. At the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, much of our year was spent (once again) in sparring matches with the provincial government over access, transparency, and privacy issues.
Despite the disastrous launch of the Integrated Case Management System earlier this year, the B.C. government is poised to unveil its next multimillion-dollar, can't-fail IT project: an ID card for everyone in the province. With ICBC in the middle of a labour dispute that finds corporation employees refusing training on the new card, the massive project is on hold, only weeks before its slated November launch.
The B.C. government sure does love secrecy for its educational institutions -- or at least their subsidiary companies. What the information and privacy commissioner said would be a relatively simple change to definitions was, according to a B.C. minister, a much bigger issue requiring consultations and even changes to other sections of the act. So, a year later, what has been done? In a word: nothing.
Citing a whole range of exceptions from legal privilege to law enforcement to personal privacy, the ministry refused to release any of the records we requested. This, despite the fact that our request should have little or nothing to do with lawyers or police! An RCMP investigation shouldn't mean that every record held by the ministry is automatically off-limits to FOI requests.