Question Period: New Democrats call on Liberals to clarify inconsistent record on open government

VICTORIA – New Democrats called on the Liberal government to clarify their muddled commitment to open government in question period Tuesday.

“At the end of 2011 the premier said open government is about giving people a sense of confidence that the government is working for them, not trying to do something to them,” said New Democrat critic for citizen services Doug Routley in the legislature. “Again we see the pattern of the premier saying one thing but her own officials, senior officials in her own office, acting completely differently.”

A report released Monday by the Information and Privacy Commissioner revealed a startling increase in the number of Freedom of Information requests to the premier’s office that resulted in no records being released. The report shows that in just one year, the number of such responses jumped from 30 per cent to 45 per cent.

In leading off question period, New Democrat leader Adrian Dix challenged the premier about her office policies around considering emails ‘transitory’ documents and the use of personal email accounts for government business.

“What we’ve seen with respect to the Burnaby Hospital issue and other issues, including issues we’ve raised this week around the multiculturalism policy of the government, is a practice in the premier’s office to use private e-mails for public business,” Dix said in the legislature.

New Democrat multiculturalism critic Raj Chouhan also pointed out the government uses other tactics to withhold information, citing a whopping $2,800 fee requested to release planning documents for the Liberals’ manufactured Bollywood awards show.

Also covered in Question Period Tuesday:

  • Attorney General critic Leonard Krog urged the premier to acknowledge that it is not good enough for the premier’s office to investigate itself when looking into the Liberals’ multicultural outreach scandal. Krog said that in order to get to the bottom of the scandal, a thorough and independent investigation is needed.
  • Public safety critic Kathy Corrigan and Skeena MLA Robin Austin challenged the Liberals to explain why they have so far failed to fulfil their commitment to implement a graduated licensing program for riders of high-powered motorcycles in B.C.
  • Finance critic Bruce Ralston asked why the Liberals have failed to tell the full story about their short-sighted sale of public assets. Ralston pointed out the Liberals have only talked openly about selling real estate, but have remained quiet about what it will mean to British Columbians if they move forward with the sale of “financial instruments.”

The Liberals are not up to the challenges facing British Columbians. Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.


Text from Tuesday’s Question Period can be found here: