Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same, especially when it comes to how leaders respond to power. While many had high hopes for Horgan, his performance yesterday in the legislature and with media, seemed to finally be the tipping point for reporters.
First, the response to a BC Liberal member asking about the premiers office exemption from FOI. The full video for context is here and begins at about 11:45 am: http://videoarchive.leg.bc.ca/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/0/-1/11188?viewmode=2
For brevity’s sake, here is one of the many tweets this display of hubris generated :
But, there is more. In the still highly controlled media availability,he doubled down and held out his phone to show what was on it in an apparent stunt to show just how transparent he is. It was a Trumpian stunt more reminiscent of something our former premier might do, and more bizarrely tone deaf than anyone who battled to get access to information from the BC Liberals was comfortable with.
At the heart of the issue that elicited this bizarre stunt, was the criticism that one of the changes within the Harperesque omnibus style bill, is an exemption for the premiers office from scrutiny of Freedom of Information requests. Michael McEvoy, Information and Privacy commissioner, is so concerned by this amendment and others contained in the bill that he recently issued a public letter to Minister Lisa Beare asking her to remove it : https://www.oipc.bc.ca/public-comments/3592
Now in power, the NDP resent the official opposition BC Liberals filing FOI’s to find information to use against the NDP as ammunition – something the NDP absolutely relied on themselves when in opposition! In fact, NDP mla’s used to file Freedom of Information requests for citizens trying to find information, when they faced a fee too high to pay. Horgan insists the oppositions requests which he refers to as fishing trips, is clogging the system for the regular folks. Also targeted was independent journalist Bob Mackin, who holds the Horgan government to the same standard he held the Clark and Campbell governments too – something they didn’t expect. The other key issue garnering criticism is the potential new fee to even file a request. If this bill is passed as is, any new fees and how much they are, will be decided after the fact. Even more concerning is the removal of the Information and Privacy Commissioners ability to waive a fee.
From his open letter :
Application fees for access requests
Bill 22 would authorize the government to impose application fees for access to information requests, fees that could be charged by all types of public bodies. This would be a significant step in the wrong direction. Application fees pose a real barrier for many who seek information that should be readily available to the public. I am unable to understand how this amendment improves accountability and transparency when it comes to public bodies that operate in a free and democratic society. Nor is it necessary, since FIPPA already authorizes public bodies to charge access fees, to help defray the costs of responding to requests.
We are living in a time when people are seeking more answers, and greater accountability, from public bodies and their governments, amplifying the significant role that freedom of information plays in allowing people to get information about what their governments are doing, and the decisions that affect them. To add another barrier of access at a time when transparency is critical is deeply troubling.
Further, I am troubled that there would be no ability for my office to waive an application fee if it is in the public interest.
I can’t even imagine what Dermod Travis would say if he saw this. Actually, I can, so let me do my best.
Under former premier Christy Clark, we saw a number of scandals surrounding how information was documented in government – or not – and how it was deleted.
We discovered that key ministers ” didn’t use paper ” to document discussions and decisions, courtesy of Rich Coleman. https://lailayuile.com/2018/06/27/money-and-corruption-are-ruining-the-land-2/
We discovered that emails relating to the highway of tears were deleted, in what became known as the triple delete scandal that saw charges https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/emails-relating-to-b-c-s-highway-of-tears-allegedly-deleted-1.3091592
The NDP were rightfully unapologetic in their harsh criticisms of Clark and crew back then, and promised if they got into government that they would fix it all, starting with the duty to document. Which is why everyone, including information and privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy, was shocked when the new NDP government ended up passing the same flawed bill the BC Liberals had originally brought forward 2 years earlier. I wrote about this in 2020, here : https://lailayuile.com/2020/12/10/how-blind-partisanship-continues-to-breed-a-government-without-accountability-or-transparency-and-why-that-should-concern-everyone/
Horgan had completely backed off his pledge to cut secrecy then, and now cuts access even more if this new bill passes. This is something I would have expected from Clark, and had she tried what the NDP government is doing now, every NDP partisan would have been blasting her for it. Now? Silence or worse yet, a defence of Horgan and the endless ” Well the BC Liberals did worse.”
Yes, they did, and some of us haven’t forgotten it. Think these changes are bad under Horgan? Imagine the next BC Liberal leader as a premier whose office is exempt from scrutiny. Imagine that same scenario with the current half assed duty to document legislation still sitting there. Does that scare you? Do you get why no one should let this slide? They should have fixed every loophole and amended every bit of legislation to ensure what happened under Clark, could never happen again.
But they didn’t. They passed the BC Liberals old bill on duty to document, thinking the public was too oblivious to notice. And now this. It’s an attack on democracy under this government…. it would be the death of democracy if passed and a BC Liberal government gets back in. This isn’t about transparent, open government. This is about trying to keep every political advantage they can. Just like Clark did.
Find your NDP MLA here, and call or email to let them know you won’t stand for this. https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members
AND…please join the coalition to stop Bill 22 by adding your name here https://fipa.bc.ca/transparency-matters/our-bill-22-coalition/
11 thoughts on “Horgans FOI omnibus style bill that would remove the premiers office from scrutiny,reveals the Emperor has no clothes”
I can’t believe i voted for this POS, TWICE!
But then, what would you expect from someone who used to vote Liberal.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!
Welcome back! I suspected you were lurking in the bushes somewhere.
That’s more accurate than you realize ” lurking in the bushes somewhere..” lol. In my garden anyways, planting garlic and tending fall crops in between storms.
Yeah disappointing to not only see this, but to see not one ndp mla, many who I know don’t agree with this, stand up and say no. They literally used to help people get FOI requests and now its the opposite.
Its not entirely surprising though. Recall back in 2018 I think it was, when a bunch of ndp staffers were caught deleting emails. And Jinny Sims used her personal emails for government business which is against the law and evades foi oversight. So, it stands to reason they don’t want to make the law so good they can’t get around it themselves.
Corruption bred in the darkness under the BC Libs. No different under Horgan if this goes through.
I hope you are well and happy 😊
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I agree with John, can’t believe I voted for this NDP party. Thinking back it was more getting Liberals out and with this voting system we have, it’s all we seem to do, vote, to get someone out. The next election could be interesting as Liberals haven’t changed still bottom of the barrel, now NDP has joined them down there.
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I think if the party dumped Horgan,Meggs and the rest of the long in the tooth inner circle, they could rid themselves of these really really hypocritical events that keep occurring.
Vaughn has an excellent piece today
I see quality commentary has returned and it was long overdo. This is most welcome.
The NDP are afraid, very afraid. They know very well they won the 2020 election because the Liberal party was lead by (to be polite) an undetectable leader) and the fear of Covid. 2024 they will not have the same advantage.
Horgan has turned into Premier photo-op the 2nd, with the real power behind the throne being his chief advisor, Geoff Megga, playing the part of Grima Wormtongue.
Except for Adrian Dix, who seems to be the one arm paper hanger, the rest of the Cabinet seem to lost in the ennui of the Louts Eaters and are completely unaware of anything. The entire province is drifting into a tax and spend nightmare.\
Site C – $16 billion and counting.
Expo Line extension, from $1.63 billion to a now $4 billion.
Broadway subway needs $5 billion to complete to UBC.
The Expo & Millennium Lines desperately need a $3 billion rehab.
A massive economy change due to Covid, the cost is several billions of dollars.
Rampant drug abuse, where overdoses rival covid deaths.
A housing crisis.
The E&N Railway has been left to rot.
Global Warming and a lack luster response by the provincial government to this years fire season.
The complete ignoring of senior students in 2020/21, the government could not even extend learner’s licenses a year because Motor Vehicle branch melted down and they could not get their tests. This demographic has long memories.
So what do the NDP do, charge $25 for F.O.I. requests because they are afraid, very afraid more damning information will surface.
It seems the NDP have forgotten FastFerries, they have forgotten fiscal prudence, they have forgotten about 70% of the province, they have now opened the door to a huge Liberal win in 2024 and we all know what that will bring.
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Mass emigration? There is one benefit to growing old! Won’t have to put up with this circus much longer!
Part of the problem is the public have short memories. The BC Rail fiasco is a dim memory, for some. For others, they weren’t even born! The Fast Ferries? They were spawned by the Liberals, and pale in comparison to Site C!
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Excellent comment, as usual. I hope you and yours are well amidst all this. Strange times when we have full stadiums for hockey with beer,screaming and cheering yet dancing in even a small wedding is taboo. 🙄
I see the auditor general has a new report out..I will have to see if much has changed with the state of accounting at the legislature.
Climate change blog coming, probably tomorrow.
Can’t say I’m too happy about the bill and I do care. Now isn’t this the premier who hired Meggs and Bellam from Vancouver? Part of Mayor Moonbeam’s entourage, ah yes they were and we know how that turned out for Vancouver.
Its not much of a democracy if the Premier is passing legislation to keep his office information a big fat secret. Now that won’t leave me voting for the B.C. Lieberals, but it might cause others to switch back to them. Not a smooth move on the part of Horgan or whomever convinced him to do this. Wonder what the rest of the MLAs think about this. Perhaps some of enquiring minds ought to write our NDP MLAs.
You gotta wonder what the boy is up to…………..
Every ndp mla voted in favour on second reading today. Horgan didn’t go to question period prior to the vote and was seen walking around the legislature, challenging the spirit of Christy Clark who also didn’t like attending legislative sessions unless passing some kind of bad legislation.
Those who voted in favor included Murray Rankin, who had a hand in crafting foi legislation in the 90’s,.only to now play a part in gutting important aspects.
P.S. Nice to have you back writing.
😊 Nice to see you back here too. Little time to write these days, but a bit less hectic now that deep autumn has settled in with monsoons back to back