In a functioning democracy, government is meant to be accountable to citizens. That’s why our system is set up the way it is, with regular elections, local representatives, and additionally, freedom of information laws. These laws are set up to give people access to government documents and information because, at the end of the day, taxpayers have a right to know how government is spending their money and how they are running the province.
Unfortunately, the B.C. NDP is currently in the process of making it more difficult to access this information and in turn, hold them accountable for their decisions.
Recently, the NDP introduced legislation that is set to add an application fee to any non-personal Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, blatantly charging citizens for government transparency. This is in addition to other parts of the bill, which would allow the government to collect more personal information from British Columbians like you and store your data in places outside of B.C.
This is a massive privacy risk and an incredibly concerning step for government to take.
And not only is this NDP legislation damaging to the systems of accountability currently in place in this province, but it is also an astounding display of hypocrisy from a government that made liberal use of FOIs when they were the Opposition party in the Legislature.
Also frustrating is that in pushing through the legislation this fall, the NDP are undermining a special committee that is supposed to meet every six years to review the Freedom of Information Act. The committee is due to undertake their work this year, however, with the exception of a meeting lasting a total of two minutes, they will not be doing any work before the new legislation is passed.
There are four NDP MLAs on that committee, and they have stayed silent while their government dismantles the Act they have been tasked with upholding.
British Columbians deserve a government that strengthens transparency, not one that purposely puts up more barriers to accountability.
Lorne Doerkson is the MLA for the Cariboo Chilcotin.