(NOTE: This recent article by the MSM overlooks one important point: that when government was allowed to make a topic off-limits, without outcry, without dissent, it was only a matter of time before that betrayal of access to information was extended to all.)
The public’s right to know: Battered and eviscerated
Citizens, non-governmental organizations and journalists face delays and huge fees to get access to our government’s information
By Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun April 10, 2010
Can it really be 18 years since that golden moment in 1992 when an NDP government and its Liberal opposition set aside partisan differences to unanimously pass what would be celebrated as the most advanced freedom of information legislation in Canada?
Yes, it can.
Unfortunately, British Columbia’s once vaunted Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act has come to represent not a triumph of transparency but a legacy of betrayed promises, corrupted ideals, cynicism, sophistry and just plain rotten values on the part of the people we elected to govern us.
The NDP began undermining the spirit of the information access law almost before the ink had dried on the statute. The Liberals, who used it to hold government accountable -almost a third of requests filed under the act came from the Liberal benches -then went to extraordinary lengths to thwart the process once they held power and the NDP was back in opposition. Continue Reading
August 30, 2009
Sorry to take so long getting back to you.
Regarding your complaint over FIPA’s ‘continued silence’ over the clause in Bill 21 that overrides normal rights of access to information about abortions:
This legislative override or ‘notwithstanding clause’ is one of several that were passed that are of continuing concern to FIPA. We wrote several letters to successive governments protesting these overrides and asking that they be reviewed. One of the many ministers of the revolving-door ministries that have been responsible for the FOI act even promised that such a review would take place, but nothing happened.
We will continue raising the issue of overrides that limit citizens’ access to information, but this is only one of the ‘exceptions’ to access in the act that are causing huge problems. Sad to say, but the entire system of access is pretty much dysfunctional, and reform of both the act and the way it is administered are badly needed.
This is not an easy fight!
The third review of the FOIPP Act will begin this fall, and I urge you to muster your forces and prepare to make a strong presentation to the special committee that (we hope) will soon be struck to review the act.
We will once again be asking that all legislative overrides be rescinded.
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
#103 – 1093 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V6H 1E2
Tel: (604) 739-9788
Fax: (604) 739-9148