EDITORIAL – The drip, drip, drip erosion of accountability in government
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
ACCOUNTABILITY IS a precious cornerstone of our democracy yet it can be slowly eroded if we aren’t careful.
Here are a few examples. The federal government’s Bill C-11, a revamped version of Bill C-10 that died last year before it could be proclaimed, aims at regulating online streaming platforms.
Detractors say the new bill is an improvement but still gives the Canadian Radio Television Commission too much power over content generated by users.
Meanwhile, in B.C., the NDP rammed through changes to Freedom of Information rules last year including charging fees for FOI applications. The change takes the “free” out of freedom of information and erodes what was once the best FOI legislation in the country.
And now, we have changes to the way in which municipalities approve housing developments. The NDP government claims they will make it easier for B.C. cities to address the housing crunch by streamlining the process. But making it easier includes removing the requirement for public hearings on proposals that fit with official community plans.
The rationale is that the public has already had input when OCPs are adopted so doesn’t need a say on each proposal. Well, the OCP in Kamloops is called KamPlan, and I defy anyone to tell me three things that are in this complex and multi-faceted document, then take those three things and apply them to a specific development proposal.
Short-changing public hearings is not something the City should go anywhere near.
Not that the City of Kamloops is without fault. The policy of restricting public input during council meetings to “matters arising from the agenda” puts a real crimp in the public’s ability to connect with the government that is often touted as being “the closest to home.”
What we have is a drip, drip, drip of small measures that add up to a potentially big problem. If we, the public, don’t call governments to account, nobody will.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mel, why is it that, when you dislike a piece of legislation, it was “rammed through,” yet, otherwise legislation gets “passed?” Methinks your bias is not only blatant, but uncalled for, inappropriate and petty….unbecoming your standing, and expectations of you.
I think in this case “rammed through” is appropriate,. considering the promised consultation never happened.
It is happening because very few people care otherwise. Heck it is even happening on this very platform when you deem comment to “dicey”, in other words comments you don’t agree with.
It appears that unless it is a compliment comments are no longer really and truly welcome. We don’t need to go further than city limits to confirm that.
I take it you’re referring to my fact-check question of a few days ago when you were unable to confirm something in one of your comments. It had nothing to do with “dicey” or whether or not I agreed with your overall point of view. I offered to publish the comment minus the sentence in question. You’re a frequent commenter, which I appreciate, and whether or not I publish your comments isn’t dependent on whether I agree with you.
If “erosion of accountability” was truly important, an FOI would likely answer some unanswered questions in regards to the “facts” you are referring to. I did gave you a lead though. My full time job is to prune trees for health and longevity not to write editorials and op-pieces in regards to city’s matters.
Thanks, Pierre, but I suggest that if you claim something to have happened, you have a responsibility to provide the backup for it.