New Democrats call for release of documents detailing $11 million hosting deal

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VANCOUVER – New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to immediately release the details about its pre-election Bollywood pageant.

“At a time when the government has asked British Columbians to tighten their belts and make do with less, and when it has told the struggling film industry that it has nothing to offer them, now it is demanding a $2,800 fee before it will tell them why and how it is planning to spend $11 million of their money,” said New Democrat arts and culture critic Spencer Chandra Herbert.

The film stars from Bollywood have begun arriving for this week’s events, and although the government plans to spend $11 million hosting it, British Columbians are still in the dark about what exactly their money is paying for.

A Freedom of Information request from New Democrats asking for the hosting agreement, as well as information about the business case for the awards, the approval of funding, and the cost of the Liberal government’s splashy media announcement in January received a response asking for a processing fee of $2,800 before the records would be released.

“It would be irresponsible to pay this exorbitant fee, and we are refusing to do so,” said Chandra Herbert, noting New Democrats have applied for a waiver of the fees.

“Now, the Liberals need to do the right thing, put the agreement on the table and let taxpayers decide whether the event is the trade opportunity the government has claimed it to be, or just another Liberal photo op with little or no economic value for the British Columbians who are footing the bill,” said New Democrat multiculturalism critic Raj Chouhan.

“For months now we have asked whether this is just more cynical pre-election self-promotion by the Liberals with taxpayer money.”

The Liberal government has not lived up to its promises of transparency and accountability, and this is just another example of its failure to meet the challenges facing B.C. today. New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.