Langley Advance view: Freedom from information at heart of Liberal document issue

The B.C. Liberals aren't the first ones to skirt Freedom of Information rules, many of which they put in place.

The provincial Liberals have had trouble with their backroom staff before, but their latest scandal should trouble everyone in the province.

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s report of last week discovered a culture of concealment in several government offices.

The most troubling issues were related to Highway 16 in northern B.C., a.k.a. the Highway of Tears.

Requests for information on the highway, where a significant number of women have been killed or vanished in recent years, were met with mass email deletions or deliberately narrow interpretations of Freedom of Information requests – interpretations designed to exclude any information of value.

The problems have reached into the office of Premier Christy Clark, and the Ministries of Transportation and of Advanced Education.

Even Transportation Minister Todd Stone admitted that he triple-deletes some of his emails but pooh-poohed Denham’s “interpretation” of the law.

Here’s a tip: Never trust anyone who’s first instinct when confronted with scandal is to suggest that it all comes down to “interpretation.”

Notably, Denham found that the major problem email-deleters were political staffers, party hacks rather than actual civil servants.

The Liberals have been in power in B.C. for 15 years now. They have improbably survived the complete implosion in popularity of former premier Gordon Campbell, leadership changes, controversial referendums and a major recession.

Unfortunately, their long tenure seems to have convinced many of the party hacks within the Liberal machine that they are not beholden to anyone. Not the press or the public, certainly.

When a government decides to control and conceal information for political purposes, they have given up the right to govern. Clark needs to clean house, or step down.

– M.C.

Just Posted

Half million dollars change Langley couple’s life

Richard and Frances Laidlaw contemplate travel and moving

Liberal hopeful aims to claim candidate spot in Langley-Aldergrove

Leon Jensen was the 2015 candidate in Langley-Aldergrove.

LETTER: Fort Langley driver lobbies for roundabout signalling

ICBC rules call for drivers to signal when exiting roundabouts.

South Langley community group wants to talk innovative housing

Brookswood-Fernridge Community Association invites people to a meeting about the future of housing.

GREEN BEAT: Opening ‘new roads’ in Langley makes cycling safer

HUB Langley pushed to ‘UnGap the Map’ and create more bike infrastructure throughout the community.

The good, bad and the unknown of Apple’s new services

The announcements lacked some key details, such as pricing of the TV service

SPCA seizes 54 animals from Vernon property

Animals weren’t receiving adequate care

Morneau unveils principles for Indigenous ownership in Trans Mountain pipeline

The controversial pipeline was bought by Ottawa last year

Refugee who sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong arrives in Canada

Vanessa Rodel and her seven-year-old daughter Keana arrived in Toronto this week

New UMSCA trade deal getting a boost from Trump, business groups

The trade deal is designed to supplant the North American Free Trade Agreement

Trudeau says he, Wilson-Raybould had cordial conversation last week

Trudeau denies anything improper occurred regarding SNC-Lavalin and the PMO

SNC-Lavalin backtracks on CEO’s comments surrounding potential job losses

Top boss had said protecting 9,000 jobs should grant leniency

Pedestrian killed, two injured in three-vehicle crash in Coquitlam

Road closures in effect following collision

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

Most Read