THE BC Liberals said on Wednesday that concerns raised by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) highlight why the NDP needs to proactively release flood-related information instead of charging a fee for access to it.
“It took five days for the FVRD to get approval and they lost structures, but the NDP managed to approve a plan to hide data within hours. The NDP refused support for volunteer firefighters who are working tirelessly, but they have no problem charging a fee for information. The NDP government simply has the wrong priorities,” said Interim Leader of the Official Opposition Shirley Bond. “We saw it during the wildfires this summer and we’re seeing it again — government doing all it can to hide information from the public, from the people directly impacted. It’s just wrong.”
According to the chair of the FVRD, the province took five days to approve funding for emergency work near Othello Road; as well, the province denied $30,000 to help support volunteer fire departments who have been on the ground working 10 days straight.
“This is ridiculous. We’re in a State of Emergency and the NDP’s top priority seems to be how to hide information from people, not share it with them,” said Bond. “People deserve to know what happened. They want to understand how these decisions were made. They want to make sure some of these choices are never repeated. The premier talks about being proactive, here’s his chance to deliver on that promise.”
During what turned out to be a faux debate on changes to the Freedom of Information legislation, the Official Opposition — supported by the BC Greens — moved an amendment calling for more proactive disclosure as it relates to wildfires. The NDP voted it down.
“This information doesn’t belong to [Premier] John Horgan or the NDP,” added Bond. “It belongs to the farmers who lost their livelihoods, it belongs to the family stranded on a highway, it belongs to those who saw their town destroyed. They deserve answers and having to pay a fee to maybe get an answer is an insult.”
Bond is also renewing her call for an all-party committee to review British Columbia’s emergency response procedures.
“I don’t understand why the NDP is afraid to work across party lines. People on the ground are working tirelessly and we are grateful for that, but it is essential that the government commits to a thorough review of the emergency response to give British Columbians confidence that everything that can be done is done,” said Bond. “People want to see leaders working together to make improvements and it’s time for the NDP to get on board.”