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Letter: Democracy dies in complacency

"Why do we have to put up with the secrecy, in-camera meetings, and the denial of reasonable requests for information?"
N-RMOW Vax Policy MUNI HALL 29.09 FILE PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS
Whistler's municipal hall.

Last year I wanted to know the costs of the legal action against Pique Newsmagazine by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW). This journey took me from writing a letter asking as a taxpayer for information, to being told no, to filing a Freedom of Information request, to being refused, to appealing with the BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC), to speaking with the BC ombudsperson’s office, back to the OIPC and finally getting the information—$28,219.52

I could speak to the merits or lack thereof of the lawsuit initiated by council and the trampling of the press in Canada, but I’ll let Pique speak to that. Same with what a waste of taxpayer money this action was.

An investigator at the OIPC said to me that he told the RMOW they “should” release the information. The comment from the RMOW in its letter to me, “we have decided to release the total aggregate figure in the spirit of transparency within our community” is something else. If the RMOW wanted to be transparent, then this information would have been released at the time of my first request more than nine months ago.

Openness and transparency in government are the pillars of democracy and trust in our leaders. Why do we have to put up with the secrecy, in-camera meetings, and the denial of reasonable requests for information? This is not just a Whistler issue. John Horgan’s government is charging you a fee for just filing an FOI. Justin Trudeau’s government has adopted 72 secret orders-in-council—hidden from Parliament and Canadians—since coming to office. The Star Chamber is still alive and kicking 700 years later it seems.

Democracy dies in complacency.

Patrick Smyth // Whistler