BC government reversal a victory for openness

FIPA is applauding the BC government’s removal of excessive secrecy clauses from its two new Greenhouse Gas Reduction bills.

In the face of strong opposition, the Government deleted confidentiality clauses in Bills 16 and 18 which overrode the Freedom of Information act. The clauses would have imposed a wall of secrecy around the government’s dealings with corporations with respect to greenhouse gas emissions and carbon credit trading.

Amendments were introduced on April 17 that replace the offending clauses with garden-variety confidentiality clauses which do not override the FOI act or allow the withholding of more information than is currently allowed by the FOI act.

“When these bills were put forward with these over-the-top secrecy provisions, it was clear they favoured corporate secrecy over public accountability,” said Darrell Evans of the Campaign for Open Government. “Thankfully we were joined in opposing these clauses by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Official Opposition, and Liberal MLA Blair Lekstrom, all of whom raised forcible objections to the minister.”

“We hope these amendments are a sign that the times are changing in Victoria,” added Evans. “We are really looking forward to a similar response from the government regarding the Policy Advice section of the FOI act. Currently, it is the section that is being most widely abused to withhold information from the public. We are calling on the government to amend and clarify that section before the end of this session.”

Campaign for Open Government: Read the full news release and media coverage on Bills 16 & 18