Former Information and Privacy Commissioner Denham released an investigation report more than three years ago documenting a disturbing rise in "oral government," which she found to be centered in the Office of the Premier. To remedy this situation, Commissioner Denham called for a written duty to document (among other things) to be included in the FOI law.
Vincent Gogolek is the Executive Director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. He was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1987 and has degrees in Law (University of Ottawa) and Journalism (Carleton), and a diploma in International and Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics. His work history includes stintsin journalism, law and intergovernmental affairs. He has worked for legal aid in B.C. and Ontario and has been Policy Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
The Access to Information, Ethics and Privacy Committee dropped a major report last week before wrapping up for the summer. Unanimously approved by the multi-partisan committee, the report pushes the Trudeau government to make some serious and long-overdue changes to the law.
06/21/2016 04:18 EDT
The spring sitting of the BC Legislature has wrapped up with a lot of talk about information and transparency, but with little action.
05/26/2016 12:01 EDT
Unbeknownst to many, a gag was put on free expression across British Columbia. When the B.C. government called the byelections in the districts of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, public communication about many important issues suddenly became "election advertising."
01/08/2016 10:48 EST
Once a government official says a document is cabinet confidence, neither the information commissioner nor the Federal Court can look at the document to confirm that it is and that the exclusion is being applied appropriately. But this supermassive problem is not being addressed.
12/09/2015 03:54 EST
This was a spring session that was full of blows to information rights in B.C. Changing the law to make sure nobody is able to be held legally responsible for their actions in misusing government information has been a common theme.
06/04/2015 12:43 EDT
We can't say 2014 was a banner year for Access to Information in this country. According to the Centre for Law and Democracy, which publishes a ranking of countries that have right to information laws, Canada continues to drop and is now down to number 57 (out of 100). And there are lots of reasons why Canada has dropped.
12/18/2014 05:59 EST
Any delay in the Commissioner's office means information requesters will have to wait even longer to get their documents. It also means that if the government digs in its heels, requesters can't even get their day in Federal Court until the Commissioner's office finishes its review of the file.
12/10/2014 05:10 EST
Two very important orders rolled out of the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner's office, closing a massive loophole that allowed public bodies in this province to avoid properly responding to Freedom of Information requests.
09/10/2014 08:58 EDT
Are you worried about what federal political parties are doing with their ever-growing stashes of your personal information? Because you should be. Federal political parties' databases and all the personal information they contain are still not subject to any law (except for some information related to the voters register).
06/24/2014 04:53 EDT
We are currently embroiled in a controversy over the appointment of a new privacy commissioner. Daniel Therrien, a long time senior government lawyer working on issues like immigration and national defence, was apparently chosen instead of the candidates preferred by the government's own selection committee.
06/03/2014 12:30 EDT
She ended her letter to the minister with a call to action: "It is vital for open and accountable government that, whatever the form of the entity, if it is carrying on public business, it should be subject to the [Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act]." Two and a half years later, there is still no sign of action from the government.
02/07/2014 05:42 EST
If the transit referendum was held at the same time as the municipal election, there is a real risk that people exercising their freedom of speech on one would be subject to severe penalties under the other. This is because the B.C. government has imposed draconian penalties (a year in jail, $10,000 fines) for those they define as "election advertising sponsors" in provincial election law.
01/29/2014 02:22 EST
The ID Card, known as the BC Services Card, has been rolling out since February, and it combines both the drivers license and the provincial health care card, with lots more to come. If you are concerned about the implications for our privacy and our pocketbooks, you should definitely put your opinions to the consultation panel -- but hurry: the deadline for submissions is Nov. 27.
11/22/2013 03:11 EST
The national police force has apparently stopped responding to Access to Information requests, and one federal department (National Defence) said it would take 1100 days (about three years) to respond to one particular request. They released the documents after the Commissioner took them to Federal Court over the delay.
10/02/2013 08:50 EDT
Delays and fees in Freedom of Information requests are reaching such ridiculous proportions that if you didn't laugh you'd cry. And worst of all, our various rulers are more than happy to continue blocking our information rights, seeming to believe they will have no price to pay. But there are a number of potential cracks in the wall of secrecy at both the federal and provincial levels.
09/25/2013 12:20 EDT
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?
09/05/2013 05:48 EDT
The province's new ID card, known as the BC Services Card, began rolling out earlier this year. At present, it combines both drivers licence and provincial health care card. Given the hundreds of millions of dollars the government has spent on other high-profile IT projects that failed miserably -- including BCeSIS, Integrated Case Management -- the provincial government has real reason to be concerned about what citizens think of their latest project.
08/26/2013 06:54 EDT
The Harper government wants to hide all of its secrets. A Canadian Press reported noticed a troubling policy detail buried in the feds' legislative bulletin that would dramatically expand the number of current and former federal government employees under a lifetime gag order, potentially curbing the right to free expression of thousands of Canadians.
06/27/2013 11:30 EDT
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.
06/09/2013 02:36 EDT
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