BC Liberals’ rule change protects staffers who destroy records

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o-BLIND-JUSTICE-facebookVICTORIA – Two days before last week’s disclosure about deleted FOI emails on the Highway of Tears, the BC Liberals changed the rules to protect staff who destroy documents.

“It is very disturbing that minister’s staff deleted information requested about missing women in British Columbia,” said New Democrat leader John Horgan. “It strikes to the core of this government’s integrity. Knowing that there are no criminal penalties for these actions is even more troubling.”

Two days before the NDP revealed allegations by former executive assistant Tim Duncan that he had been directed to illegally destroy documents, the BC Liberals passed the new Information Management Act. Section 18 changes the law so that staff who improperly destroy documents will not face charges under the Offence Act.

“There are families in British Columbia looking for answers about their missing loved ones, and they want to know what action their government has taken,” said local lawyer and  Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Women’s Advocate Mavis Erickson. “Where is the respect for people? If this was taken seriously, then breaking the rules would come with serious penalties.”

“A government that removes penalties for hiding information is not trying to be open,” said New Democrat FOI Spokesperson Doug Routley. “I spoke against this section in the legislature and tried to amend it. But the BC Liberals were apparently determined to take the teeth out of this law.”

“Government’s work should not be secret,” said NDP democratic reform spokesperson Gary Holman. “As part of our democratic reform legislation, public servants would have a duty to document their actions and decisions. It would also protect whistleblowers like Tim Duncan from the wrath of an embarrassed government.”