Saturday, August 08, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 4 (Obstruction of Access to Information Requests)

Harper's Obstruction of Access to Information Requests

Fourth in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
When Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, his stand on "transparency and accountability" included a promise to reform Canada's 30-year-old Access to Information Act, in particular to give the information commissioner the ability to order release of information, to read cabinet records and to adjudicate complaints. Subsequently, few substantive changes have been made to the Act.

Instead, the government has gained a reputation for secrecy, erecting one roadblock after another to any attempts to shed more light on government's inner workings, from the handling of Afghan prisoners to its battles with independent watchdogs.   

Ironic, because when Mr. Harper was opposition leader, he said
Information is the lifeblood of a democracy. Without adequate access to key information about government policies and programs, citizens and parliamentarians cannot make informed decisions and incompetent or corrupt governments can be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.
Incredibly, one access to information request actually resulted in the Harper government retroactively changing a law to cover criminal activity

After the government got rid of the long gun-registry in 2012, the RCMP was ordered by the Government to destroy its records. By then, however, an access to information request for this data had been made. The RCMP destroyed the information anywaywhich, according to Suzanne Legault, Canada's information commissioner, is a criminal offence if an access request is being processed. Legault recommended charges be laid against the responsible RCMP members

However, in an omnibus bill, the Harper government simply retroactively rewrote the access laws to erase the RCMP's mishandling of gun registry records, to protect these officers from facing criminal charges. 



On Access to Information, Harper behaves exactly the opposite to what he advocated when in opposition, which makes our PM a hypocrite. Many politicos change tunes once in power but Harper's behaviour makes him unique in the annals of Canada's political hypocrisy. He's done 180o turn on so many issues. Our PM's brand includes secrecy and manipulating laws for political purposes.  

Retroactively changing laws sets a dangerous precedent. As a Canadian citizen it scares the hell out of me.
The Harper government not only rewrote a law and backdated the changes, it buried it in an omnibus bill. That should scare every Canadian.

Harper degrades Canada's democracy to an extent never before seen in any of our past governments. Harper does not deserve our vote. 

As always, comments are most welcome.

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