The former Information & Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, David Loukidelis, submitted a letter on March 30, 2001, to Joy MacPhail, then Deputy Premier, lamenting the proposed change to FOI laws in BC.
Among other things, Loukidelis outlined his “several serious concerns” that:
*Bill 21 Fundamentally Changes the FOI Act: My first concern is that the amendment fundamentally changes the nature of the FOI Act, by introducing a mandatory exception based soley on the subject-matter of a record. Such a subject-matter exception is a feature of outmoded, and rightly denigrated, access and privacy laws.
*Bill 21 Is Not Necessary: The FOI Act as it stands – notably through ss.19 and 22 – has proved more than capable of protecting such information as would identify abortion providers or patients or threaten their health or safety. Of the almost 450 orders made under the FOI Act, less than half a dozen have involved records relating to abortion services. In no case has information been ordered disclosed that would identify or otherwise jeopardize abortion service providers, patients or other persons who are in any way associated with abortion services.
The entire letter can be found here.
One of the best quotes?
“While the Bill 21 amendment does not exclude abortion services information from coverage by the FOI Act, it essentially has the same effect. With the exception of policies and global statistics, all information relating to that specific subject (the provision of abortion services) must not be disclosed. The only exception is that an individual may request information about abortion services that she has received. many legitimate issues of the accountability of public bodies for their use of public funds cannot, therefore, be addressed through the right of access. Bill 21 simply excludes accountability by, for all intents and purposes, repealing the right of access in this area.”
As Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said: Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic.
Which explains why kind folks will happily support the censorship of information on abortion…all in the name of democracy! Then they complain when government moves to expand it on other topics.
In 2001, this was Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer’s take on a media scrum with then NDP Cabinent Minister Joy Macphail:
She defended the need, citing “threats” to women’s freedom to exercise reproductive choice and “erosion” of access to abortion services.
I asked her if she could produce any government reports or studies to back up her assertion. She said “information” was available and promised to produce it. But as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, she hadn’t delivered a sheet of evidence.
(Neither side offers clarity on abortion issue; [Final Edition]
Vaughn Palmer. The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, B.C.: Mar 29, 2001. pg. A.18)
To date everyone is still waiting. As can be ascertained in this blog, the government was “embarrassed” time after time over the release of documents on this topic.
Sometimes, you just gotta tell the truth, no matter how inconvenient!