FIPA has asked Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis to investigate the destruction by the BC government of years of Cabinet emails in contravention of the Document Disposal Act.
According to FIPA, this incident and the recent revelation about suppression of welfare statistics during the last election are the latest and most outrageous examples of how far the BC Liberals are prepared to go to keep embarrassing information from becoming public.
“It seems there is nothing this government will not do to keep British Columbians in the dark about what their government is really doing,” said FIPA Executive Director Darrell Evans. “Richard Nixon got into trouble for an 18-minute gap on an audiotape. Gordon Campbell’s government has created a four-year email gap and thereby has severely limited public hopes of accountability at the highest level of government. The political interference with the flow of information has got to stop.”
The stunning revelations about missing emails for the years 2001-2005, and the order from the Public Affairs Bureau that blocked the normally-scheduled release of welfare statistics are only the latest examples of the Liberal government’s efforts to put a stranglehold on the release of government information. Last month, FIPA released a report on the province’s troubled freedom of information system called FAILING FOI: How the BC Government flouts the Freedom of Information Act and stonewalls FOI requests https://fipa.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/library/Reports_and_Submissions/Failing_FOI-May_2009-FINAL.pdf:”Click Here” .
The FIPA report found that the provincial government violated the FOI law’s response requirements in more than half of all general requests.
In February, Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis also put out a report critical of chronic illegal delays in the government’s FOI performance. The government responded by saying they are going to improve performance by centralizing FOI management in the Ministry of Labour and Citizens’ Services – the ministry that also houses the government’s Public Affairs Bureau (PAB).
“PAB has already been identified as the main source of political interference in the FOI process. If they are at the centre of the government’s new ‘improved’ FOI system, it’s is pretty clear what will happen to any FOI request that might make this government look less than perfect,” said Evans.
CONTACT: Darrell Evans, Executive Director, 604-739-9788