FOUR NDP MLAs tasked with upholding people’s access to government information are choosing to sit silently while their boss Premier John Horgan rams through his controversial Bill 22 legislation that strips away their right to know, the BC Liberals noted on Thursday.
The four NDP MLAs who sit on the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) include Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA and committee chair Rick Glumac, North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Susie Chant, Burnaby North MLA Janet Routledge, and Richmond South Centre MLA Henry Yao. The committee is mandated to conduct a review of FOIPPA once every six years but has yet to begin this work apart from a 2-minute housekeeping meeting on August 23, 2021, that lasted from 10:38 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.
“It is completely astounding that John Horgan is sidestepping the committee tasked solely with reviewing FOIPPA legislation. It is even more concerning that all four NDP MLAs on this committee have no objections to their government undermining the important work of the committee,” said Opposition Critic for Citizens’ Services Bruce Banman. “None of them uttered so much as a word in the debate on an Official Opposition amendment that would have let that work continue. Instead, the four NDP MLAs shamefully voted against it without any attempt to explain their reasoning. The irony must not be lost on British Columbians that the NDP MLAs responsible for reviewing and maintaining freedom of information have been muzzled by the Premier as he dismantles key sections of the Act meant to ensure government transparency.”
Calls to scrap the contentious Bill 22, which allows the B.C. government to gather more personal information from its citizens while simultaneously limiting the public’s access to government documents and information, continue to grow throughout the province. The rising outcry has resulted in a letter by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia condemning several sections of the bill, as well as a letter by a coalition of 20 organizations — including the BC General Employees’ Union, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and the Canadian Association of Journalists — calling for the withdrawal of Bill 22.
When pressed during Question Period as to when the committee may sit again, Rick Glumac indicated that it would be “within the next few weeks.” However, a check of the legislative calendar indicates the committee’s upcoming calendar is empty.