One Dead Fish or More Big Ideas? The Quality of Debate in Redford’s Government

Premier Redford complains bitterly about the quality of debate in the Legislature; apparently we need more “big ideas” and less “parochial debate”.* 

However her Environmental Minister continues to provide fatuous explanations for why it took nineteen days to issue an Environmental Protection Order in connection with the largest coal mining waste water spill in Canadian history.

On Oct 31, Obed released one billion litres of waste water into the Athabasca River.  A toxic plume 150 kilometers long and the size of 400 Olympic sized swimming pools is now working its way to the Arctic Ocean.  The government flew below the radar screen for almost three weeks…until the Opposition (bless their feisty hearts) called them on it.

The Government’s response to the Obed spill

Brian Mason (NDP) pointed out that this spill is 20 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill and yet Ms McQueen failed to issue a public statement.  Sure, she posted an information bulletin, but if you’re not on the government’s media feed you wouldn’t get it.  She told communities not to draw drinking water from the Athabasca River but failed to include a number of First Nations in the communications plan.  And she sent inspectors to take water samples and so far all they’ve found is one dead fish.

One dead fish?  Are you kidding me?  What happened?  Did it forget to hold its breath when 150 kilometers of mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium rolled by?  Are the rest of the fish happily going about their fishy business or are they floating belly up somewhere downstream?

One dead fish or more “big ideas”?

It’s the government, not the Opposition, who sets the legislative agenda and bears the responsibility (and the blame) for debating about a dead fish instead of “big ideas.”

A government that sets itself up as Joan of Arc, Defender of Industry (and all that is good, noble and true) finds itself in a quagmire when industry does something that warrants censure.  The government’s Environment Minister will be trapped into making idiotic comments like:**

  • There’s no harm except to the one dead fish (note: the impact on wildlife habitats is not yet known)
  • The Environmental Protection Order is a merely a “tool”,  like education and prevention, to keep Albertans safe and healthy (note: it’s also a mechanism that can lead to charges for violating the law)
  • The drinking water is safe (note: the government told communities to stop drawing their water from the Athabasca and don’t ask about the First Nations because no one knows).

A meaningful debate

As frightening as this may sound to the PC government, the Obed spill presented a golden opportunity for the government to demonstrate what it would do to protect human health and the environment when (not if) there’s a toxic release from an oils sands tailings pond.  It was a chance to debate a “big idea.”

Ms McQueen

Unfortunately Ms Redford and Ms McQueen failed to rise to the occasion and, to paraphrase economist Michael Moore, are not doing their bit in the “concerted effort by both industry and government to gain the trust and confidence of a wary Canadian populace”. ***

But take heart, Minister McQueen assured the House that her government is “very concerned” and is “taking action” and “the company will be held responsible once the investigation is complete”. **

Let’s see….what’s an appropriate punishment given that this government has yet to impose a significant fine for a major transgression?  How about a public flogging with a dead fish?

*Premier Redford’s “Building Alberta” Speech, Glenbow Museum, Nov 18, 2013

**Hansard Nov 20, 2013 p 2968

***Daily Oil Bulletin, Nov 20, 2013

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35 Responses to One Dead Fish or More Big Ideas? The Quality of Debate in Redford’s Government

  1. midgelambert says:

    Thanks for writing this, Susan and making these points.

    Bottom line is that this government has zero respect for environmental protection, and McQueen is the most inept Environment minister we’ve ever had, yes even worse than Renner (who she learned under) . The Dept of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development concerns itself with only the Development part of its jurisdiction, and has completely ignored its job looking after Environment, let alone making sure the use of our Resources is Sustainable. Allowing industry to call the shots, write the legislation and make the rules is one of the most irresponsible and unforgivable paths the PCs have ever taken.

    Do they have any idea how to deal with the global ecological disaster we will have when a tailings lake lets go? Or are they hoping like everything else, that doesn’t happen until “After The Next Election” which seems to be the latest slogan from this short sighted and self centered bunch.

    • Midge the hypocrisy and incompetence of this government never cease to amaze me. One of the major reasons they delayed issuing the Environmental Protection Order (I believe) was to avoid embarrassing Redford while she was touting Alberta’s environmental regime to her counterparts in Washington.

      You’re absolutely right about our toothless legislation. The Responsible Energy Development Act is an appalling piece of “junk” legislation which became even more hopeless on Nov 20 when McQueen was officially made a “responsible minister” under REDA. Now we’ll have both McQueen and Hughes providing policy guidance to the Regulator.

      Brad Gilmour, head of the regulatory department at Bennett Jones says REDA is extremely confusing, that wells, pipelines and oilsands projects are now at a greater risk of a hearing after they’ve been approved than they were before and the government should simply scrap the legislation and start again. How’s that for a gong show?

  2. Roy Wright says:

    I am not surprised the provincial government did not react in a fashion that resembles taking responsibility for our environment. Remember Redford’s vision that we all should “trust industry”. This behaviour shows, at least in my mind, that it seems like the government not only trusts, but is in collusion with industry in keeping the story from the people it is supposed to represent. However, I was sure the federal government would step in. I thought the federal government had responsibilities for environmental issues associated with rivers (fisheries, inter-provincial stream flows, navigational requirements, Indian reservations, federal lands etc.). It too seems to be silent on this issue. So who does protect us from environmental catastrophe and who are our stewards? Apparently not the provincial or federal governments.

    • Roy, I’m so frustrated with Redford’s government. We’ve always been taught that government is made up of three branches, the executive branch who administers the laws, the legislative branch who make new laws and the judicial branch who determine whether the government is acting in accordance with existing laws. What we weren’t taught was that there’s a fourth branch of government called industry which controls the executive and legislative branches of government. I’m clinging to the hope that it hasn’t taken over the judicial branch as well.
      With respect to your question about who are our stewards…this responsibility has fallen on landowners, First Nations, environmental groups and ordinary people like you and me. Given we share a common cause we may be able to come together without party labels and create a better way of governing. The first step will be to oust the PCs in 2016!!

  3. Lunelle says:

    Well, I don’t know how many people have sat in on Legislature sessions, but my experiences in doing this have been quite enlightening! For most of us, we only get to see small clips of these sessions on the news. We should all sit in on at least one session, a full session, to see how our government works, and debates important issues. It is appalling!!!!!

    Pointed questions are asked by the opposition parties, and the PC government continually provides non-answers, half truths, partial truths, and diversionary answers, all designed to skirt the issues raised on the floor.

    If Alison Redford wants meaningful debate in the legislature, maybe she, her ministers, and MLAs should respond to these legitimate and important questions with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

    They should also have to provide proof to back up their marshmallow answers. If studies or consultations are completed, the complete results or report should be provided, at the very least, to the opposition parties, if not to the Alberta people, as proof that the PCs are doing a complete, thorough, good job! They should not make one statement or answer that they cannot backup with proof. This proof could then be scrutinized by the opposition and public to see if The PCs due diligence has been met in it’s entirety. If it hasn’t, the PCs should be open to the fact that they will have to do more to ensure the safety and prosperity of all Albertans! This is called ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY!!!!!

    Redford is right, the quality of debate in the Legislature is lacking. She should review the recordings of the sessions and the Hansards to see where that fault lies!

    Another thing that burns my butt!!!!…..Each time I have attended legislative sessions, I stayed longer than Redford, her ministers, and most of her MLAs! After question period and a few important votes, most of the seats were empty! From what I saw, this is the time that back-bench MLAs were given the opportunity to present important issues from their constituents, petitions from the Alberta people were presented to the legislature, as well as other items and concerns. Why are these not being listened to and acknowledged by a full assembly? Are the issues of EVERY Albertan not important enough for ALL to listen to? Is this not part of this government’s job? How can anyone make ANY decisions in a democracy without listening to EVERY Albertan’s concerns, and treating them with the respect they deserve? Especially when they have taken time and effort to have it presented in the assembly! What could be more important???????

    Maybe they have to leave the assembly to get to a PC sponsored Fundraiser to deliver more fluff, marshmallows, and drivel!

    This arrogance of the PC party permeates EVERYTHING in Alberta! Healthcare, environment, education, resources, infrastructure, all of this and more! It is all in jeopardy because Redford doesn’t listen to the people she is to serve and protect, instead, she tells us to “trust industry”. This industry that is robbing, destroying, and probably killing everything that is Alberta, including the people!

    Accountability and transparency are buzzwords this government throws around. I don’t think you can practice accountability if you “trust industry”, because all control is with industry. That’s quite the oxymoron!

    To me, accountability and transparency are directly connected to quality legislative debate. If Redford wants to increase the quality of debate in the legislature, the PCs should not merely throw those words out to pacify the public, they should practice them. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Show us all the proof!!! Show us all the good job that is being done on our behalf via the detailed documents that back it up!!!!!!

    • Bang on Lunelle! Like you I’ve attended Legislative sessions and pore over Hansard to keep track of what the PC government is doing. The duplicity of Redford’s criticism of the Opposition for not debating the “big ideas” is mind boggling when, as you say, not one of the PC MLAs will give a direct answer to a direct question. Last week the Bruce McAllister (Wildrose) challenged Education Minister Jeff Johnson about Redford’s promise to build 50 new schools and renovate 70 more before 2016. McAllister asked a very simple question: how many of those schools are presently under construction. Johnson answered with some gibberish about the WR constantly criticizing the government over capital (irrelevant) and that the Premier had delivered on her promise to reinstate $107 million to the teachers (irrelevant) and that we should stay tuned because they’d have 120 schools done by 2016 (unresponsive and unbelievable). McAllister finally said, fine if you won’t give me an answer I’ll tell you: zero schools that have been promised are “currently under construction”.

      The fact that the Opposition hasn’t risen up en masse and throttled the PCs out of sheer frustration is amazing. Maybe we should do it!

  4. Carlos Beca says:

    The government did not issue a public statement and the main newspapers in the city basically
    ignored it. Of course this is all an exageration of the left wing nuts. They know they win the batlle 99% of the times so why bother, after all only one fish died!! As far as the first nations, the government does not even remember they are around anyway. They are just a nuissance. The concern of course is to hide it as far as possible so that the PEOPLE do not get all excited about such a petty event. This is the atittude one gets in the legislature debates, not my invention.
    Lunelle I totally agree with you, the problem is that these people are not MLAs, they are business representatives that are not there to protect the public interest. They are there to make sure they can retire confortably in some beautiful island in a fenced compound so that the masses do not bother them.
    Susan you do not know how many times I have thought about the opposition frustation levels. If I was one of them I would have already been in jail.
    Maybe we should definitely do it.

    • Carlos, I shake my head at what passes for news nowadays. The Globe and Mail did a half page spread on Rob Ford’s wealth this weekend. The reporting was speculative because most of Ford’s income comes from a private company started by his father so there was no way to confirm its revenues, profits or shareholder distributions. The best they could do was guess at the value of his homes and his SUV. If the point was to demonstrate that Ford is rich and as a result the Ford Nation should cast him adrift the story should have appeared in the Sun, not the Globe. Furthermore, I don’t think the Ford Nation cares that he’s rich, they’d like to be rich too. Bottom line: why waste a half page of newspaper space on this story when there are so many better things to talk about?.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I absolutely agree but unfortunately it has been like this for a while now. I was actually surprised that the Edmonton Journal published a fairly good article about the children that died under government care. You mentioned that in one of your posts.
        Yes that story about Rob Ford is just another one and the fact that the editor for the Walrus thinks Rob Fors is not part of the elite in Toronto!!!

  5. carlosbeca says:

    Susan you should have a glossary of ideas so that people can better challenge your thoughts 🙂

    ‘Parochial Debate’ – anyhting that the public is concerned about and that is important to their quality of life
    ‘Big Ideas’ – anything that matters only to the elites and businesses and that is also very important for their falling quality of life 🙂

    Thank you for letting me publish this on your blog.

    • You’re welcome. I like the glossary idea: I need to find a word to define the PC’s practice of saying one thing and meaning the exact opposite. We see prime examples in the naming of statutes. Case in point, the Responsible Energy Development Act is anything but “responsible”.

  6. Carlos Beca says:

    Here is an explanation of what Alison Redford means with Parochial Debate and Big ideas

    http://billmoyers.com/segment/henry-giroux-on-zombie-politics/

  7. Carlos Beca says:

    Interesting to all of us Albertans. The Chinese will sold Nexen soon.

    http://oilandenergyinvestor.com/ext/articles/massive-20-million-oil-discovery-is-deathblow-for-saudis-sm.php

    Did you know about this Susan?

  8. Kathleen Lowrey says:

    I am embarrassed by my own question but if I had not read about it here on your blog, Susan, I would not have heard about this enormous spill at all. Carlos Beca you say the city newspapers basically ignored it? This seems huge. Susan — where are you getting your information? This isn’t a gotcha question at all, I’d really love to start following good investigative journalism sources on Alberta. I love your blog, so — what / who else do you read?

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Yes the Edmonton Journal and the Sun had some news about it, but the details were left for those who know where to get the real news. The Sun cannot afford to have any detailed article on this because how are they going to find the space for all the great news about Alec Baldwin’s underwear colour and all the great photos of semi naked Cristina Aguillera and Lopez and all the great celebrities of our times. Really there is no space for trivial news! 🙂 Furthermore we are a consumer society and we have to have 80% of the paper full of what we need to be good citizens.
      Spils? What is that? Some kind of a a whiskey cocktail?
      Sad is it not? In the meantime it has just been announced that in the province of BC alone there are now 153 thousand children living under the poverty level. Of course I am sure tomorrow Ms. Clark will come up with something like ‘Parents need to take better care of their children’. I wonder what Alison Redford will say about the amazing number of children that died under the responsibility of Alberta Children Services?

      • Carlos, you’ve put your finger on the most important issue that this government has faced in a long long time–the 145 children who’ve died under the government’s care. So far Ms Redford is stone walling, a “roundtable” discussion with the opposition just won’t cut it. I’ll be blogging on this issue this weekend. It’s an appalling breach of trust and cannot be swept under the carpet with a “there, there we’ll take care of it” response.

    • Kathleen, great question. As you and Carlos point out the mainstream media isn’t the best source of information any more (although the Journal and Herald have done an excellent job in their investigation into the 145 child deaths while in foster care—more on that this weekend). Troymedia and the Tyee are good sources of news, although in my case I always start with the Legislative debates (live stream or Hansard) to understand what’s really going on.

      The Opposition uses Question Period to spotlight serious issues in the hopes the media will pick up the story–the Obed post and the $3 bill super-lab post started with tough questions from the NDP–unfortunately the media was too interested in Rob Ford and Redford’s leadership review to do much with it. I subscribe to the Alberta Government news feed and talk to my MLA friends for sanity checks.

      I also subscribe to the Daily Oil Bulletin, an industry publication that provides insight into how the energy industry interacts with governments on a provincial, national and global scale. I subscribe to the Alberta Medical Association President’s letter and the College of Physicians and Surgeons Registrar’s letter and have developed relationships with people in those associations. All of these publications provide information. The big question is: is it biased and if so why?

      I’ve connected with some incredible people in Edmonton, including the Whitemud Citizens for Public Health, who’ve followed healthcare and other issues for years—they’re brilliant and have been very generous in sharing their knowledge and contacts. I follow special interest blogs like the U of C law blog (ABlawg) and university blogs like Whither the U of A and Arts Squared and the ethics blog Biocitizen (Dalhousie). The information on these blogs is amazing.

      Thank you for your support of the blog…the tricky part is to take all this information and make it readable. Every week it’s a battle between Susan the lawyer (make it detailed and erudite) and Susan the blogger (make it punchy and cap it at max 750 words ). I love doing it and the best part is getting feedback and new information from the readers like you!

      • Kathleen Lowrey says:

        Wow Susan — thanks for the detailed and informative answer! It makes me feel like my best bet might be… to keep reading you 🙂 Thanks very much for this blog, I’ve been reading it for a few months now and always find it hugely informative. You are getting the mix on length and punchiness just right in my view!

  9. Lunelle says:

    In the spirit of the season that is now upon us…..

    There will be no Nativity Scene in Alberta this year!

    The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene on the Alberta Legislature grounds this Christmas season.

    This isn’t for any religious reason. They simply have not been able to find Three Wise Men (or women, to be politically correct)

    A search for a Virgin continues.

    There was no problem, however, finding enough asses or sheep to fill the stable

  10. Lunelle says:

    Late yesterday afternoon, the Alberta government told us it was about to introduce new legislation that will have a serious impact on all HSAA members.

    We were not given any details, but the name of the proposed act speaks loudly. It is Bill 46, the Public Service Salary Restraint Act. The name tells us that the government is about to attempt to impose a wage freeze on public-sector workers, including health-care workers through legislation.

    This is an outrageous attack on our collective-bargaining rights. It is a cynical attempt to blame workers for the government’s fiscal failures and make you pay for their mistakes. Imposing that kind of wage restraint during a period of economic growth and soaring corporate profits in Alberta is unconscionable..

    Yesterday, the government reported an operating surplus of $1 billion in the first six months of this year. It is also predicting a one-third increase in demand for our energy by 2016. Corporate profits are soaring. The only reason for Alberta’s financial problems are the years of tax and royalty breaks given to wealthy corporations and individuals while you were asked to work harder and harder and had to fight to keep up with the cost of living.

    This attack on your rights and on your livelihood must be resisted. We encourage all members in the Edmonton area who aren’t working and can come to the Legislature today at 2:30 p.m. to do so, to show the government how strongly we feel about this attack – and the attack on our modest pensions. If you come, be sure that it is on your own time, not on work time.

    We encourage all other members to contact the Premier and their MLAs to let them know their unfair attacks will not pass without opposition and that if they use their legislative majority to force them through, you will remember them at the next election.

  11. Lunelle says:

    The Alberta government has released details of Bill 46, the Public Service Salary Restraint Act and Bill 45, the Public Sector Services Continuation Act.

    The salary restraint act applies only to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), not to HSAA or any other unions. The services continuation act applies to 100,000 unionized workers including members of HSAA, AUPE, UNA, CUPE and non-academic staff associations. It places stiffer penalties on unions and members who take part in illegal strikes.

    While the salaries act does not affect us now, it sends a bad signal to us that this PC government is not willing to negotiate fairly with its workers. This is a fundamental blow to union rights. The government has gutted the compromise of arbitration that somewhat balanced the removal of our right to strike. This should send a chill to all workers about a government that will bully whomever gets in its ideological way.

    Legislating collective agreements is not the way to earn labour peace. It is not the way to earn the trust and respect of your valued employees. The only way to move ahead successfully is to negotiate fair collective agreements.

    HSAA also disagrees with the need for stiffer penalties for unions and their members. Alberta already has tough laws to deal with this. The fact the government feels the need to do this shows that its relations with its workers are severely strained.

    Rather than attacking health-care professionals and other providers of vital services and blaming them for the government’s own financial mess, Premier Redford should show real leadership and fix the broken revenue system that makes working Albertans pay through the nose while wealthy individuals and hugely profitable corporations are laughing all the way to the bank, thanks to years of tax cuts and royalty giveaways.

    We’d like to thank all the members of HSAA and other unions who turned out for the rally in freezing conditions today. We must continue to stand on guard for our rights. We’ll keep you informed by email and on our website, http://www.hsaa.ca.

    Details on the bills are here:

    Bill 45:
    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=bills_status&selectbill=045&legl=28&session=1

    Bill 46:
    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=bills_status&selectbill=046&legl=28&session=1

    • Lunelle, the PCs have truly gone mad. Even the Wildrose are siding with the unions on this one. On Thursday Danielle Smith said this in the Legislature (paraphrase): The WR respect the rule of law and due process. This includes bargaining in good faith with the public-sector workers. She challenged the Premier to explain why she’d abandoned the bargaining table and revoked the union’s legal right to arbitration which she pointed out was created by Peter Lougheed to “fairly settle contract disputes”.

      When the WR side with the NDP and Liberals to protect the unions you know the PCs have gone way over the line.

      This is a fight the PCs will NOT win. Lord only knows what hubris led them to try it on in the first place.

  12. Julie Ali says:

    Lie, lie, lie.
    Deny, deny, deny.
    If lying and denying won’t do the trick–distract, distract and distract,

    And if none of these tactics work Susan, they will fight endlessly to withhold data.

    Without data, citizens cannot make good decisions.
    Let me give you one example of how hard it is for a mummy to get data—here is just one circular conversation and I still haven’t got information!!!!

    The foster care system is in shambles.
    The Tories have been criminally negligent in my mind and I believe they couldn’t care less about the kids they have done away. They only care that we –the people have the information about the kids now.

    As for all the other information I am seeking?
    Sigh.
    It is endless work to get what I want and why?

    Because we live in a province and country where the political parties have recognized that the control of information enfeebles citizen participation in a democracy and therefore –in order to cover up bad governance, this information must be very regulated (and in my mind, this is an illegal sequestration of information that we have paid for).

    In the case of the Tory financial records I am still waiting for them to reply.

    —– Forwarded Message —–
    From: “jyali” <jyali
    To: "Matthew Dennis"
    Sent: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 11:34:04 AM
    Subject: Re: financial information

    Hi Matthew,
    I presume your FOIP representative is fully capable of blackening out the addresses as per the Elections Edmonton folks.
    I do not believe this is an unreasonable request and fully doable.
    I want to see the pattern of donations by both ordinary citizens and corporations to the Tories in a historical review.
    Please find out from your supervisor why such a request is uncommon.
    Sincerely,
    Julie Ali

    —– Original Message —–
    From: “Matthew Dennis”
    To: “jyali” <jyali
    Sent: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 11:16:39 AM
    Subject: RE: financial information

    Prior to 2004, the files contain all address information for contributors who contributed more than $375.
    Due to the sensitive nature of that information, we normally do not hand over large quantities financial data.

    What is the purpose for the information?

    —–Original Message—–
    From: jyali [mailto:jyali
    Sent: December-03-13 10:35 AM
    To: Matthew Dennis
    Subject: Re: financial information

    Hi Matthew,
    I am interested in contributions to the party which I assume include contributions throughout the year and at election time (I think these are two separate forms of contribution but you can correct me if you like).
    Julie

    —– Original Message —–
    From: "jyali" <jyali@
    To: "Matthew Dennis"
    Sent: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 10:34:10 AM
    Subject: Re: financial information

    HI,
    All the years the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta has been in power which is I think about forty or more years.
    Julie

    —– Original Message —–
    From: “Matthew Dennis”
    To: “jyali” <jyali@
    Sent: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 9:52:27 AM
    Subject: RE: financial information

    What data and for what years are you looking for specifically?

    —–Original Message—–
    From: jyali [mailto:jyali@
    Sent: December-02-13 7:50 PM
    To: Matthew Dennis
    Subject: Re: financial information

    Hi Mr. Dennis.
    Thank you for your response.
    Can I make photocopies of the information you have at the office?
    Do you have this archived information as microfiche that can be copied?
    If so, what is the cost and can requests be made via e-mail.
    Julie

    —– Original Message —–
    From: "Matthew Dennis"
    To: jyali@
    Cc: “Trudy Berry”
    Sent: Monday, December 2, 2013 2:38:33 PM
    Subject: RE: financial information

    The information prior to 2004 is not available in digital format.

    You can view the information in our office during regular business hours.

    8:15-Noon 1:00-4:30

    Sincerely,

    MATTHEW DENNIS
    Senior Financial Compliance Analyst, Elections Alberta
    P 780-427-6698 F 780-422-2900
    matthew.dennis@elections.ab.ca
    http://www.elections.ab.ca

    —– Forwarded Message —–
    From: “jyali” <jyali@
    To: info@elections.ab.ca
    Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2013 7:18:46 PM
    Subject: financial information

    Hi,
    I note that the financial information for the political parties only begins from 2004 and on.
    Where are the reports for years prior to 2004 and how can citizens access this data?
    I am specifically interested in the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta yearly disclosure data.

    sincerely,
    Julie Ali

    • Mathew’s logic escapes me…“Due to the sensitive nature of that information, we normally do not hand over large quantities financial data.” What, pray tell, does the “sensitive nature” of the information have to do with “large quantities”. I should think that they wouldn’t hand over even one piece of sensitive information and as you point out, they can black out the sensitive bits. Are they concerned that you will indeed find a pattern and it could be embarrassing to them? It’s interesting that they want to know why you want to know. Frankly isn’t it our right to know so what business is it of theirs why you want this information?

      This week in the House, the WR and the PCs got into a donnybrook over a WR FOIP request for the Tobbaccogate documents. The person who received the FOIP request sent an email to the Justice Minister’s chief of staff asking if it was okay to release the documents. The Justice Minister’s chief of staff said “You bet”. The WR made the point that Redford had said politicians were not involved in decisions to release FOIP requests, so why was this person asking the Justice Minister’s chief of staff if it was OK. (Implication being that the chief of staff would either check with the Justice Minister or know whether the Justice Minister thought it was OK–given that the chief of staff is not a FOIP staffer, this would be a logical conclusion). The Justice Minister said the fact that the “You bet” document was released demonstrated that he had no input into its release. He also said he didn’t know why the bureaucrat asked his chief of staff the question. If that’s the case the chief of staff’s response should have been “You don’t need my permission, check with the FOIP people to see if it’s OK to release” instead of “You bet”.

      • carlos Beca says:

        Why does FOIP exist in the first place? The only documents that should not be released from any government is in case of war with another country. Other than that I am not sure why this kind of information should have to be requested. These are public documents not private.

      • Agreed. There may be a few things that should remain private, but when you read the list of things that are FOIP proof and then have to fight to get your hands on the things that are supposedly available to the public, it’s enough to make you weep. No wonder Frank Work, the former privacy commissioner said, in a fit of frustration: “If you’re going to promise transparency then deliver it…Let the public see, let the public judge, let the public find ways to make the information useful and relevant to themselves and others. Sorry, not happening in Alison Redford’s new “transparent” government.

  13. Lunelle says:

    My understanding of FOIP is that it is in place to protect citizens from being, among other things, photographed without permission, as well as being sensitive to personal information of individuals. I didn’t know it was going to be used to blockade citizens from knowing the facts of governance and contributions (Cronies…remember Daryl Katz’s contributions? and his being hired to a crown corporation?)

    I agree Carlos, government documents, and party documents should be readily and easily available to all! Oh wait, that would be transparency!!!!

    • So I looked up the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act just to see what the government says the purpose of the Act is. It’s threefold purpose, broadly speaking, is this: (1) to allow any person access to records in the custody or control of a public body subject to limited and specific conditions set out in the Act and (2) to control how a public body collects personal information about us and (3) to give us the ability to get access to the records the government has on us and correct the information they’ve gotten it wrong. Unfortunately the government has a much broader view of what’s caught by those limited and specific conditions than any other reasonable human being, but then again, most of us don’t have as much to hide, do we? Lunelle’s description of it as a “blockade” is bang on.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Exactly Lunelle the issue is that these people cannot stand transparency because they are not honest people. When one is honest and behaves democratically and with respect for others, has nothing to hide. These people are constantly lying to their advantage and then want to hide it. That is all this is about. This is all disgusting.

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