Se­crecy is a sign of a sick gov­ern­ment

Asian Journal - - Editorial - John Hor­gan Leader, B.C. New Democrats

Vic­to­ria: A gov­ern­ment ob­sessed with se­crecy is one that has been in power too long. When elected of­fi­cials and se­nior staff be­come pre-oc­cu­pied with hid­ing and destroying records of their ac­tions, they have clearly forgotten who they work for. Over the past months, New Democrats have ex­posed the wide­spread prac­tice of destroying public records in the gov­ern­ment of Pre­mier Christy Clark. Last month, whistle­blower Tim Dun­can wrote to the in­de­pen­dent pri­vacy com­mis­sioner. Dun­can says while he was the ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant to the min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion, he was or­dered to de­stroy any emails he had re­ceived re­gard­ing miss­ing and mur­dered women along the High­way of Tears in north­ern Bri­tish Columbia Ac­cord­ing to his writ­ten com­plaint, when he re­fused to de­stroy them a po­lit­i­cal staffer phys­i­cally seized his key­board and deleted the emails in front of him. In 2015, this is the same thing as keep­ing the pa­per shred­der run­ning all night in the back­room. It’s a clear sign that some­thing is very wrong.” What counts as a “win” for Christy Clark? At least 18 women have gone miss­ing along the High­way of Tears. Peo­ple in the com­mu­ni­ties along the high­way be­lieve the real to­tal of miss­ing and mur­dered women is closer to 30. But if you want to see what, if any­thing, your gov­ern­ment is do­ing to pre­vent an­other woman from van­ish­ing, no records ex­ist. And for the gov­ern­ment of Christy Clark, that’s a win. Dun­can was de­moted and ul­ti­mately left his job in dis­gust. He de­scribes the Clark gov­ern­ment as a “cesspool.” In 2012, seven re­searchers in the Min­istry of Health were fired, and the gov­ern­ment put out a me­dia re­lease falsely sug­gest­ing they were the sub­ject of an RCMP in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The al­le­ga­tions against them were never sub­stan­ti­ated, and each per­son was ei­ther re­hired or com­pen­sated. The gov­ern­ment later de­scribed the af­fair as “a re­gret­table mis­take.” Trag­i­cally, one of th­ese peo­ple, Rod­er­ick MacIsaac, took his own life be­fore he and his col­leagues were ex­on­er­ated. The pre­mier apol­o­gized, and promised a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Who made the de­ci­sion to fire th­ese peo­ple? Who de­cided to is­sue the press re­lease claim­ing the RCMP were in­ves­ti­gat­ing? Why were th­ese peo­ple never given a chance to de­fend them­selves? The in­ves­ti­ga­tion could not an­swer any of th­ese ques­tions be­cause there are very few records to be found. That is the sick cul­ture of the Christy Clark gov­ern­ment, where cov­er­ing up your tracks is a win. The MacIsaac fam­ily de­serves jus­tice. I have pressed the pre­mier to call a public in­quiry. She re­fuses. Af­ter the pri­vacy com­mis­sioner in­ter­vened, we found doc­u­ments that re­vealed the Lib­eral fire­sale of public land in Co­quit­lam, a give­away of prime devel­op­ment real es­tate at $43 mil­lion be­low its value. One 16-acre par­cel of land worth $5.6 mil­lion was sold to a Lib­eral in­sider for only $100,000. For Christy Clark’s gov­ern­ment, keep­ing that deal a se­cret from the public is a win. Pre­mier Clark must an­swer for the cul­ture of se­crecy that she has made stan­dard prac­tice in her gov­ern­ment. Your New Demo­crat Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion has de­vel­oped a se­ries of re­forms to make your gov­ern­ment more open, more trans­par­ent, and more accountable to you. We will keep public doc­u­ments public, and we will pro­tect whistle­blow­ers. Bri­tish Columbians de­serve lead­ers who work hon­estly and out in the open. With your help, we can elect a gov­ern­ment that puts the public in­ter­est first. That’s what I call a win.

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