Liberals Make Government Less AccountableMay 23, 2019
It was not that long ago that Canadian privacy was in the news. Back in the fall, Canadians learned that the Liberal Government was going to allow Statistics Canada to access private banking information without consent. A few months later, Justin Trudeau was busy trying to cover-up his corruption. If it feels like there is a double standard when it comes to privacy, you’d be right. It turns out that Trudeau will protect his privacy at all costs while happily disregarding the privacy of Canadians. And if you agree that this is a double standard, you’ll be shocked to learn that the Liberal Government is about to make accessing information a whole lot harder.
Even though the Liberals campaigned on a promise to make government more open and accountable; at the eleventh hour for this Liberal Government, they are rushing through Bill C-58, an act that amends Canada’s Access to Information Laws. But these amendments don’t make accessing information easier; instead, these amendments will help the Liberal Government to protect its secrets. Bill C-58 will make it harder for Canadians, journalists, and opposition parties to access critical information that can be used to hold the government accountable.
The absurd changes to the Access to Information Act proposed in Bill C-58 are the exact opposite of an open and free democracy. After Bill C-58, government departments will be allowed to deny requests for information if those requests lack specific details. This unreasonable condition means that anyone trying to access information must know exactly what they are expecting to find, or their request will be denied. As a consequence, Indigenous communities won’t be able to acquire documents that mention when their treaty rights have been violated. Bill C-58 also allows information requests to be denied on the grounds that a request was made in bad faith. Even the Information Commissioner is alarmed by these changes. The Liberals are trying to justify their actions by claiming that these amendments will stop Canadians from “fishing for information.” But it’s clear that the Liberals are trying to guarantee that their other scandals never come to light.
The Liberal Government is giving its own members the power to determine which documents they make available. Trudeau’s Liberals prefer redactions to open government, and they’re prepared to construct barriers to avoid having to answer to Canadians. But Canadians expect accountability and transparency from their government. With Bill C-58, the Liberals are saying that anyone who values open, accountable, and transparent government is expecting too much. It turns out that Justin Trudeau thinks that doing government “better” means redacting it.