As your MLA, I often receive requests from constituents for access to information, information that you have every right as a citizen to receive. My staff work with people to access information through Freedom of Information, and most would be shocked to discover just how difficult, slow and costly accessing even the most basic information can be.
Your government has a responsibility to retain relevant documents and to provide access under the Freedom of Information Act.
This is not just a moral requirement; it is actually a legal requirement.
There are well-established protocols on what has to be retained. And when it is discovered, as it has been recently, that the B.C. Liberal government has not retained the required documents and correspondences, you must understand that it is not a simple mistake. It is a deliberate act.
A report has recently come out on three clear cases where the B.C. Liberals broke the law and, as a result, a government political staff member is now under investigation by the RCMP.
What has become clear is that the Premier’s office, the Ministry of Transportation, and the Ministry responsible for ensuring that Freedom of Information laws are actually followed all have political staff who routinely purge records they are legally obliged to keep. Whether it is the fact that proper documents are either very deliberately not created, or that electronic documents are “triple-deleted” to permanently destroy them, the actions of this government are in blatant disregard of the law.
The documents that we now know were destroyed related to serious abuses of government power such as the firing of health researchers — a travesty that resulted in a suicide of one of the falsely accused researchers. These health researchers were falsely accused for political reasons, likely on the direct orders from the Premier’s office.
This government also destroyed documents related to the government’s lack of response to the Highway of Tears.
We know that it is not just the Premier’s office, or these two ministries, that are engaging in these unlawful acts.
It is far wider than that. This is the culture of this government, and it absolutely cannot be tolerated.
Governments have tremendous power, but governments are not above the law. We must demand that this government follow the law. I would encourage you to make your thoughts known directly to the Premier at email@example.com.
Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke. He can be reached by phone at 1-866-870-4188 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.