Following an outcry from FIPA and other voices for government transparency, legislation that would have greatly restricted the public’s access to government information has been deferred to the fall session of the BC Legislature. Happily, it may never re-appear in the same form.
In a surprise move, and citing concerns that were raised, Government House Leader Mike De Jong told the BC Legislature on May 10 that Bill 23, the Public Inquiry Act (which would have allowed cabinet to keep secret the final reports of public inquiries) will not proceed this session.
“Government believes it would be beneficial to hear further from those with views,” said De Jong.
Also deferred will be section 9 of Bill 30, which would have amended BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) so as to allow government to erect a wall of secrecy around public-private business partnerships. De Jong noted objections to the bill by Information Commissioner David Loukidelis.
An agreement to defer the legislation was hammered out between De Jong and Opposition House Leader Mike Farnworth. Liberal MLA Blair Lekstrom had also spoken out against the changes.
De Jong’s announcements were greeted with applause in the house.
Debate will continue over the remainder of Bill 30, which would roll back some important privacy protections in the FOIPPA that prohibit government employees and contractors from taking or accessing personal information outside of Canada.
FIPA strongly opposes these proposed amendments and will have more to say about this shortly.
See news items below on the FIPA website for more information.