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.
The spring sitting of the BC Legislature has wrapped up with a lot of talk about information and transparency, but with little action.
David Loukidelis said the government's freedom of information practices need to get better,
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.
"There's significant work required to ensure that access to information rights remain meaningful and effective in Nova Scotia."
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.
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.
The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, sent all four parties a questionnaire pushing them for clear positions on how they would stop the erosion of our privacy rights and defend our access to government records through Freedom of Information. On April 30th, we received responses from the NDP, the Liberals, and the Greens (we've yet to hear back from the Conservatives). They all had interesting, if decidedly different things to say.
Information issues were smoking hot right up to the drop of the writ. But ever since, they've received hardly a mention. Looks like nobody wants to talk about the government's increasing unwillingness to create written records or its habit of sheltering public documents from FOI by hiding them in personal email accounts. Even multi-million dollar data linkage and information management programs like the Integrated Case Management (ICM) system, which has been slammed repeatedly by officers of the Legislature and civil society alike, don't rate a mention from the four major parties. This is pathetic.
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.