freedom of information
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.
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.
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.
Since 2009, the Liberals have shuffled ministers in and out of the Ministers of Citizens' Services and Open Government role so quickly that there's hardly been a chance to make any meaningful progress.
Every client of the mental health system knows that at every appointment you attend with your health care team, whether it be doctors or therapists, notes are taken and stored in your file. After years of searching and bureaucracy, I finally got some of those notes back.
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.
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.
Would you trust a leader who won't make concrete commitments to openness and transparency? Many British Columbians will be asking themselves that very question over the next six weeks.
Why shouldn't taxpayers know what the B.C. Lions or Vancouver Whitecaps pay to play in our $563 million stadium? Why shouldn't we be aware of the legal issues surrounding the stadium's roof? Or why the Telus naming deal died?