THE CONTROL FREAKS in the Horgan government unceremoniously shut down the second session of the 42nd Parliament on Thursday but not before Interior Liberal MLAs put up a good fight.
The NDP used their power to cut off debate on several contentious bills and turn out the lights at the Legislature until next year. The most controversial one was Bill 22, which amends Freedom of Information legislation in a way that will make it harder to get at the facts and processes behind government decisions.
Proceedings on Thursday had the appearance at times of an Interior vs. Lower Mainland standoff along party lines. Debate on the bill also reflected the festering disenchantment among many with how this past summer’s wildfires were handled, and one wonders if the bill might come back to haunt the government in the wake of the floods.
Symbolic of the negative impact of Bill 22 is the prospect of fees being levied for even routine applications for information — anywhere from $5 to $50 — rather than only when extra time is needed to collect the requested information. Critics say this will take the “free” out of freedom of information because we’ll now have to pay for information we already own.
Other concerns about the bill include allowing storage of residents’ data outside Canada, and exempting the premier’s office from FOI requests.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.