Transparency

CP

Suppressing Our Right to Know

Suzanne Legault, Canada's Information Commissioner, says federal officials are suppressing freedom of information in Canada. According to her notes, complaints to the Information Officer in the first five months of the 2013-2014 year are up by 35 per cent.
Getty

Stephen Harper's Secret Open Data Survey

Shhhhh. Don't tell anybody, but the Harper™ government is 'consulting' Canadians on Open Government. Well, sort of. There has been no press release about the consultation program. No ad campaign, either. And the program was quietly started in the middle of summer, while everyone was on vacation. It's almost as if Harper doesn't want anyone to know about it. Crazy talk, right?
Getty

The Government Is Spending How Much on Corporate Welfare?

Canadians who don't regularly track how governments spend money might be surprised to find how myths crop up about government expenditures. Exhibit A is a new report that claims Canada needs even more "industrial policy," more colloquially known as corporate welfare. Governments are less eager to be frank about the cost of corporate welfare, including chronic government failure on collecting on past loans.
CP

Trudeau Raises the Bar for Democracy and Transparency

From the beginning of his leadership campaign, that has been Justin Trudeau's strength -- giving Canadians good reasons to vote FOR him, not just AGAINST the other guy. In that constructive spirit, he has also developed an aggressive agenda for Parliamentary, electoral and political reform to strengthen Canadian democracy and improve financial transparency.
Getty

It's Time for Stephen Harper to Get Tough on Tax Havens

Stephen Harper's decision to protect those who use international tax havens to evade paying their taxes is inexplicable and unacceptable. Canadian companies should be good global citizens paying their fair share of taxes in countries where they operate, not hiding behind tax shelters and shell companies. After all, tax evasion is hurting the Canadian economy as well -- one estimate puts the cost at $7.8 billion per year, or slightly more than the amount the government will spend on infrastructure in First Nations communities over the next decade. Yet the government will not even provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer with the data necessary to calculate an official figure.
CP

Transparency? Not On Harper's Watch

Over the last several months, the federal government has repeatedly thrown up the claim that theirs is "the most transparent government in Canadian history," even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is categorically untrue. Even the practice of stomping on backbenchers who push for more transparency is nothing new for this government.

The Home Builder Video Controversy Reminds Us of Democratic Values

There is nothing wrong with encouraging your fellow citizens to be involved in the political process by supporting candidates, voting, making donations, or even by trying to persuade them to vote for candidates more in line with your (and, hopefully, their) interests. All of these behaviours are part of a healthy democracy. Given the low voter turnout in many elections, more rather than less such engagement is required.
CP

BC Election 2013: Put Information Rights Front And Centre

A few short days from now, the writ will drop on the 2013 provincial election, kicking off twenty-eight days of heated campaigning. And while there's no shortage of issues for voters to consider, recent controversies around government secrecy and attempts to undermine Freedom of Information make it clear that information policy should be a top priority for voters.

Citizen Collaboration

Our towns and cities do not function in isolation. They do not exist in a vacuum. Municipalities can learn from one another's experiences. More importantly, citizens can too.
CP

'Canadians Should Be Angry'

Canada's Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, says the current federal government is "not the most transparent" and that response to requests for Access to Information is now at a record low. "...
AP

Behind the Headlines: Should Armstrong's Charity Suffer For His Sins?

The trouble with Lance Armstrong's fall from grace is that he wasn't just a sports hero; he was a self-styled symbol of hope. Which is why we're all left wondering: does his doping confession negate his charitable work? Candidly, we're conflicted. Some of the onus for Armstrong's fall lies on our cultural tendency to elevate celebrities and sports idols to too-good-to-be-true status, then crucify them in the court of public opinion at their every transgression.
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2012 Tough Year For B.C. Information Rights

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.
CP

imagineCalgary: Calgary's Open Government Initiative Betrayed by Bureaucrats

We'll drive, copilot, change the tunes, serve up the beverages, adjust the heat and ensure government doesn't fall asleep... but someone has to open the doors so we can get in the car. Unlock the doors of government and let citizens in, that is the mantra of imagineCalgary, now firmly in the hands of hardened bureaucrats. The language of imagineCalgary is not their mother tongue and they are struggling with just the basic translation, let alone the incredibly lofty and epic targets found within the imagineCalgary tome.
Alamy

Give the Gift of Transparency This Holiday Season

This holiday season, consultation on the deficiencies in the Access to Information Act provides all of us with a chance to do our best Jacob Marley and remind the Info-Scrooge Conservatives that they once campaigned on the position that government works best when open and accountable. Don't miss your chance to participate.

Why Canadian Cities Should Look to Phoenix

Municipal politicians are in positions in which they may abuse the public trust. These controversies should be a launching point for a broad discussion of how to improve municipal governance. Canadian cities need a new model, and for accountability, transparency, and efficiency, there is no better governance model than that in Phoenix, Arizona.

B.C. Government Drags Heels On University Subsidiary Accountability

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.
Alamy

B.C. MLAs Break Word On Expenses, Disrepect Taxpayers

Last week, the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, chaired by Barisoff and made up of both Liberal and NDP MLAs, agreed to post quarterly expense reports online -- but continue to withhold actual receipts, ensuring the public is kept in the dark on where public money is actually going. For two parties who are at each other's throats on nearly every issue facing this province, it is astounding that the Liberals and NDP continue to walk in lockstep when it comes to hiding these receipts.
CP

Why Can't I Know Where My Taxes Are Going in Victoria?

Why aren't our MLAs comfortable releasing their expense reports? Why not follow the example set by Toronto City Hall where councillors publish every receipt online? Are B.C.'s MPs and MLAs hiding something from the taxpayer? MPs and senators and Ottawa have been violating their own documentation and contracting rules, is the same thing happening here in Victoria?
AP

Ex-Yahoo CEO Isn't the Only Yahoo in the Business

Despite a candidate's high profile and past accomplishments, due process still includes background checks in terms of resumes. It's the board's responsibility, not that of human resources, to make sure candidates are who they say they are. Transparency is key, and as we've seen in the case of Yahoo, those who do not abide by the rules do so at their own peril.
AP

Why Is Open Data Still Guarded?

Currently, the available open data seems to be used primarily by developers who make and sell apps, or by enthusiasts who write code as a hobby. It leaves me wondering if the only promise of open data is in monetizing that information for a downloadable app that may be of limited long-term value.
AP

Behavioural Advertising: Who's Watching You?

How would you feel if mall security cameras didn't simply monitoring you for stealing, but instead kept tabs on the specific brands, styles, colours and sizes of clothes you tried on, the magazines you leafed through at newsstands, what you ordered from the food court, and everything you actually bought during your visit?