Open government my ass

The BC Liberals are maybe the least open government in Canada.  Which makes their “Open Government” moniker an Orwellian exercise in obscuring the truth; and the FOI process a Kafkaesque journey through an obfuscating bureaucracy.

Here’s my latest story about that journey.

Fifteen months ago I filed a Freedom of Information application for all records provided to the defence in the BC Rail trial – they don’t call it the BC Rail trial over on the government side.

The BC Liberal government applied for and was given four time extensions.  I only received notice of the first.  That process took till this January – a year thus far.  In January I received notice from the Office of the Information Commissioner of another eight month time extension request that had been denied and then appealed.

I wouldn’t have known of the request for the additional eight month extension without the appeal.  And it was the Commissioner, not the Ministry as required by law, who notified me of this, the Ministry’s fifth request for extension.

I can’t hire a lawyer for this kind of thing and I was in and out of medical clinics at the time so couldn’t devote much effort to fighting the appeal.  Just over a month ago the Commissioner granted the time extension on appeal.  It will now take almost two years for the government to provide the materials already provided to a court case that is finished.

But the adjudicator attached a few conditions to the order granting the time extension.    One is a duty to provide documents as they make their way through the vetting mill.

Last week I got another group of records.  1752 pages of them.

The first page was an innocuous email exchange between Yvette Wells and Jessica Guitard of CN Rail’s legal department entitled “Re: Public Release of Partnership Documents” dated August 3, 2004.

And here for your reading pleasure are the next 1751 pages:  “Pages 2 through 1751 redacted for the following reasons: – S.14”

That’s right, one thousand seven hundred and fifty one blank, empty, white pages.

Not a word or punctuation mark left so I can’t even figure out what it is the BC Liberals have kept hidden.  It’s like a dark and depressing punch line at the end of Kafka’s Trial.  And it means I’ll have to go back to the Commissioner and file more complaints.

And if I’m successful they’ll appeal and I’ll have to fight that.  By which time I’ll probably be dead.

But also, maybe by that time we’ll have a new government that will just by-pass the whole lousy lot of government censors and release all these documents and more to a public inquiry so we can get to the bottom of this crooked deal and all the crooked side deals once and for all.

And in the process, maybe they’ll take a look at all the folks involved in delaying and severing documents.



This entry was posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail, Christy Clark and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Open government my ass

  1. cfvua says:

    And by doing so the government only proves to us that they are hiding behind FOI legislation. The arrogance of these people is only exceeded by their powers of deception. And to add insult to injury, the fact that someone outside the large corporate media must do the heavy lifting is preposterous. The big story here is now the coverup, which should interest the media types, as all they have to do is ask and I’m sure you would show them the proof. I admire your patience and tenacity on this as I look forward to a time when people that would wilfully hide public information from view are held to account. Regardless of their current lofty positions.
    We need your longevity to bring this thing to an inquiry and I certainly hope that you, can one day see the fruits of your labour as these people are taken to the woodshed.
    Stay well.

  2. Christy Clark & her BS about open government is typical of an arrogant hypocritical Liberal government. The public have no rights under a Liberal government and these people who are no better than you & I should be shown the door. And the sooner the better.

    Guy in Victoria

  3. Shamus says:

    At least you got a tonne of note paper out of it.

  4. paisley says:

    Nothing surprises me about FOI and if you can imagine I have (2) letters from FOI from a few years earlier stating that government departments do not have and can not access long distance call records from respective government departments. One of the letters is signed by the commissioner of FOI of the time. This government body has demonstrated on many occasions that they are either completely unqualified or incompetent acting in their role or just plain liars.
    The most frightening aspect is that Dix has not spoken one word about cleaning FOI up and not one word on getting to the bottom of the BC rail scandal. A sickening state of affairs that makes many of us feel ill that democracy and justice are lost to us.

  5. John's Aghast says:

    Again, I’m speechless! What a travesty. Is there NO-ONE to whom you can appeal? How about the ombudsman? Yeah, I know, another political hack.
    It makes my blood boil to even THINK that they can behave like this.
    WOW!———————————————–(more sounds of me, speechless)

  6. Sam says:

    Just curious. Any idea of the annual budget for the Office of the Information Commissioner? Do you have to file an FOI request for that as well?

  7. This is totally outrageous Ian – good on you for pursuing it so far already!

    This is rotten to the very core.

  8. Martin says:

    This government is an absolute f*cking joke. Open and accountable my ass.

    A provincial election can’t come soon enough.

  9. April Reeves says:

    I left BC last month because I was that tired of the Liberals and Clark. Even if you get nowhere with your search, you’ve already gone far – just the very story of not being able to get information is enough to heat up a million people! SO glad I don’t live there any more. What’s truly sad is that it has to come to this in order to wake people up…

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