John Horgan Shows His Leadership Skills

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NorthReport
NorthReport

BC NDP plans to combat opioid crisis with dedicated minister role

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-ndp-to-combat-o...

NorthReport
NorthReport
NorthReport

At one time organized labour, business and government all consulted

Since the Liberals took power 16 years ago Labour has been effectively cut out and as a result the citizens of BC have paid a serious price

It's time to bring back balance into the government decision making process and return to Labour all the things they have lost during this terrible 16 years of right-wing reign

Either we are going to have a society that represents everyone (NDP approach) or we won't (Liberal and Green approach)

https://www.google.ca/amp/vancouversun.com/news/politics/b-c-greens-kill...

NorthReport
Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Nice image there, North.

NorthReport

Horgan needs to show how different he is and what better way to do it than put an end to 99.9% of all government secrets which are just done to manipulate the public into thinking this or that bullshit. 

 

Five ways John Horgan could strengthen access to public information

Truth is, I spent the next 10 years in government largely thwarting that goal, using every legal means available to keep public information away from the opposition’s and the media’s prying eyes.

It is amazing the "wrongs" you can justify to yourself as "rights", as a political partisan, in mostly fearing information for the potential it holds for political embarrassment. A paragon of virtue, I was certainly not.

My motto was that old adage: "never write what you can speak, never speak what you can nod, and never nod what you can wink."

Read into that what you will, given my unbridled propensity for doing the opposite these days, as my long-suffering readers all know.

The author of this article, Martyn Brown, acknowledges that when he worked for a B.C. Liberal premier, he encouraged others not to write things down to prevent material from becoming available through freedom-of-information requests.

Clark’s crew just took that decades-old shift toward "oral government" to a whole new and more devious level. Commissioner Denham’s other damning report made that abundantly clear.

The Clark government’s legislative amendment earlier this year that created "a duty to document" won’t do much at all to change that. Certainly not if the information that is now obliged to be routinely committed to writing can be easily expunged without any real fear of reprisal.

It is noteworthy that even that small step forward was not put under the purview of the independent FIPPA commissioner, as both Denham and the all-party legislative committee had recommended.

Instead, that new and decidedly "flexible" duty to document was left to a minister-appointed bureaucrat, the chief records officer.

As such, the foxes are still responsible for guarding their own information chicken coop, as it were.

Will Horgan fix that? I don’t know. Hope so.

There are literally dozens of ways that the FIPPA could be improved to strengthen access to public information.

Here are my top five suggestions:

Fix the Liberals’ toothless document disposal law

As Denham explained in her November 2015 submission to the all-party committee reviewing the FIPPA, the law lacks teeth.

"Government recently passed the Information Management Act (IMA) which [repealed and replaced] the Document Disposal Act," she wrote. "While [that] act made it an offence to destroy records except as authorized by that act, the new IMA removes the offence provisions, lowering the consequences for unauthorized destruction of records. In addition, neither statute applies or applied to the broader public sector (e.g., municipalities, school boards and universities)."

Somehow that change never quite caught the full attention of the mainstream media. Too bad. It was a major scandal in its own right.

Faced with the potential for serious charges that might have flowed from the commissioner’s investigation into the illegal destruction of government documents, the Liberals simply deleted the provision in the law that previously made it a punishable offence!

Is it any wonder no one was charged with illegally destroying public records?

Thanks to the Clark government’s changes, the law is now an ass. Or more precisely, it is an even bigger ass than it was.

Fix it, John.

And while you are at it, you should also act on the advice that the Clark government ignored from its own special advisor, former information commissioner David Loukidelis. As he pointed out "There is no offence under FIPPA for willfully disposing of records in an attempt to evade or frustrate an access request."

Fix it.

After all, even the all-party legislative committee responsible for reviewing the FIPPA recommended amending the act "to make the alteration, concealment, or destruction of records with the intention of denying access rights under FIPPA an offence under FIPPA". Dah.

Former information and privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham highlighted how B.C. had some of the weakest penalties in Canada for those who violated the law in this area.

Increase penalties under the FIPPA

The current penalties for violating the FIPPA in British Columbia are a joke. They range from $2,000 for privacy protection breaches, to $5,000 for general offences.

Two years ago, the commissioner noted that "British Columbia has some of the weakest penalties in Canada for individuals who commit offences under public sector privacy law. This undermines the role that penalties play as an incentive for compliance, suggesting that the government does not take access and privacy seriously."

She observed that "The Ontario government recently tabled a bill that will increase penalties to up to $100,000 for individuals and to up to $500,000 for corporations and other entities for similar general offences under its Personal Health Information Protection Act."

Now that’s a serious deterrent.

The Clark government was quite content to keep its toothless FIPPA penalties. Horgan should strengthen them.

He should take the advice of the commissioner, of the all-party committee, and of his own caucus critic.

They have all recommended that "penalties for offences committed by individuals under FIPPA should be raised to be up to a maximum of $50,000 for both general and privacy offences".

I can see the government’s agents of destruction holding their breath, just hoping those penalties won’t be made to apply retroactively, as the shredders and deleters continue to work their magic.

Expand the commissioner’s ability to investigate the unauthorized destruction of records

The commissioner explained the problem thusly in 2015:

"Currently, in British Columbia, my Office has narrow authority to investigate the destruction of records. We may only investigate if the alleged destruction of records occurred after an access request was made. This lack of oversight runs contrary to the spirit of FIPPA. Effective oversight would permit my Office to investigate any complaint concerning the destruction of records—even in the absence of an access request."

No government of any political stripe has been in any hurry to correct that obvious flaw in the act.

It is a flaw that has effectively neutered the commissioner’s ability to investigate most acts of questionable document destruction, which typically take place long before any F.O.I. request is ever made.

Obviously, the commissioner should have jurisdiction over the unauthorized destruction of any records covered by any other law, some of which now trump the FIPPA.

Just fix it. Now.

Extend the FIPPA to cover all public sector entities

For many years the commissioner has been trying to correct another flaw in the law. It indirectly exempts dozens of public sector organizations from the act. They can’t be held accountable under FIPPA for providing access to information, or ensuring privacy protection.

In a bizarre twist, public bodies that are subject to FIPPA have often simply created corporation and agencies that are not subject to the act.

For example, wholly owned subsidiary corporations of postsecondary institutions, and entities like the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police and the B.C. Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police are still not covered by the act, to my knowledge.

Horgan should embrace and immediately act upon the commissioner’s advice that "corporations or other organizations set up by public bodies are conducting public business. As such they should be subjected to FIPPA and held accountable for their use of public resources."

The document shredders are possibly working overtime before the NDP takes control of the B.C. government.

Extend FIPPA, as appropriate, to the legislative branch

This is a biggie.

The legislative branch in B.C. is currently exempt from the FIPPA.

Politicians of all ideological stripes have long maintained that parliamentary privilege should keep them free from the freedom of information and protection of privacy act. Not just in B.C., but in most Canadian jurisdictions.

For a good analysis of that issue, read this recent report from parliament’s standing committee on procedure and house affairs. The House of Commons is not subject to the provisions of the federal Access to Information Act, for example.

For the most part, that committee was quite content to keep the bulk of parliament’s privileged documents far removed from any right of public inspection.

Yet Canada’s independent information commissioner has recently noted that "The access legislation in some Canadian provinces, as well as the U.K., covers the legislative branch to a certain degree, with protections for certain interests."

"Model laws and some top-ranked right to information laws also cover the legislative branch. In addition, numerous reports—issued not only by the Office of the Information Commissioner but also by a parliamentary committee and the task force mandated with reviewing the Act in 2002—have recommended bringing Parliament under the Act."

He went on to recommend that "coverage of the Act should be extended to the bodies that support Parliament, such as the Board of Internal Economy, the Library of Parliament, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and the Senate Ethics Commissioner."

He further recommended "creating a provision in the Act to protect against an infringement of parliamentary privilege."

At a minimum, we should adopt those recommendations in British Columbia.

Why is this important? Several reasons.

First, ministers have long used their privileges as private members to shield themselves from public scrutiny.

When they don’t want information to be "FOI-able", they tend to exchange it to their partisan colleagues through their legislative channels, which are not subject to freedom of information requirements.

It is a legal way of avoiding public access to information that should rightly be available to the public, with due privacy protections to ensure that all legislators can do their job on behalf of their constituents without undue government interference.

Second, there is new need for transparency. That will especially be the case with the depth and regularity of consultation that the new NDP government has committed to having with the three Green party MLAs, as part of their mutual "confidence and supply agreement".

As things stand now, there's no duty for B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver to release any correspondence he has with any cabinet ministers in an NDP minority government.

Sure, the government theoretically has a duty to produce any documents it shares with the Greens, in response to FIPPA requests; but the Greens will have no such obligation.

All of that government-to-Green correspondence and documentation should be explicitly subject to the FIPPA, and certainly not hidden from the public through back-channel communications "between private members".

All government/opposition correspondence and document sharing should be governed by the FIPPA and also by the Information Management Act.

Indeed, if that existed today, it sure would be interesting to see what materialized in response to any F.O.I. requests asking for any information exchanged or produced by the governing Liberals or the NDP in negotiating for the Greens’ support.

Why wouldn’t that information be a matter of important historic record that is accessible to the public after a period of time, like privileged cabinet documents? The latter are public available after 15 years.

We should shorten that time frame to perhaps 10 years or sooner, and also allow those documents to be released at the discretion of the FIPPA commissioner immediately, if he or she deems it to be in the public interest.

Third, taxpayers deserve a legal right of access to information about the decisions made by legislators and the practices they employ in managing their tax dollars. They have no such right today in respect of their MLAs and the speaker’s use of their voted appropriations.

As it is, some improvement has been made as a matter of policy, to make more information about constituency and travel expenditures publicly accessible.

But that is not a legal requirement, enshrined in the FIPPA, as it should be—as Canada’s information commissioner has recommended of parliament.

Fourth, the use of "privilege" is too often abused, to protect a cozy little legislative club that is far too content with its own secrecy for the public good.

Now would be the time to open that up, as far as possible, ideally with the Green MLAs’ support, to make the opposition Liberal MLAs and all private members newly subject to the FIPPA.

Horgan could ask acting commissioner Drew McArthur to review that issue.

He could ask him to make recommendations that respect the right balance between preserving legitimate parliamentary privileges and also accommodating the public’s interest, in gaining new access to information that is now out-of-bounds.

Will the NDP embrace those five suggestions? I wouldn’t bet on it, but you never know, if Horgan and Andrew Weaver decide that any or all of them are priorities worth leading.

Even the Green party has been rather mute on the issue. Its platform listed three commitments for establishing "transparency and accountability". Sadly, none of them had anything to do with strengthening B.C.’s freedom of information legislation.

If history is any guide, it is likely one change we can’t count on.

Least of all if Clark’s outgoing government gets its way.

http://www.straight.com/news/922861/martyn-brown-five-ways-john-horgan-c...

NorthReport

NDP-Green tax bite not as bad as op-ed writers claim, readers say

 

Taxes by other names 

Niels Veldhuis and Charles Lamman speculate that the Greens and NDP will increase taxes. What do you think the Liberals have been doing for the last eight years?

I know the Liberals do not call them taxes. They refer to them as access fees, user fees, registration fees, tolls or premiums — anything that does not include the word taxes.

Either way, we get it in the derriere.

http://theprovince.com/opinion/letters/letters-ndp-green-tax-bite-not-as...

 

NorthReport

NDP’s John Horgan Getting Ready To Take Power Next Week

http://thelinkpaper.ca/?p=63692

NorthReport

B.C. NDP officially take power July 18 with appointments that pack experience

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/b-c-ndp-officially-take-power-july-18-with-...

NorthReport

Welcome to 21st century BC, eh!

 

Former boss of BC's new premier expecting cabinet to be gender-balanced

http://www.news1130.com/2017/07/06/former-boss-bcs-new-premier-expecting...

NorthReport

Who cares!

Can Christy Clark remain leader of the B.C. Liberal party?

http://www.straight.com/news/931911/can-christy-clark-remain-leader-bc-l...

cco

I'd think everyone in the BC legislature cares, because if she loses the leadership and then resigns her seat, the vote math changes for the six months until Horgan's obligated to call a by-election. She could stay on as a backbencher, but I'm not sure how many former leaders decide to do that. Plus, the BC Libs won't be eager to topple the government while they're mid-contest.

NDPP

An Important CETA Question For John Horgan:

"Is there a chance that the new kid on the block, BC NDP premier-designate John Horgan, might throw a last minute monkey-wrench into this destructive machinery?"

Dobbin: Trudeau's Concessions in Canada-EU Trade Deal Will Hit Cities Hardest

http://rabble.ca/columnists/2017/07/trudeaus-concessions-canada-eu-deal-...

 

NorthReport

The party is over for Clark, she is old news, and it does not matter whether she stays or goes Hopefully if she goes the NDP win her seat in the by-election and all they would need is 2 more and the NDP would have a majority of its own

jas

I'm disappointed that we have to wait this long for the swearing-in.  I'm not sure if this is a normal legislative timeline or not. Meanwhile, Site C continues to hemorrhage money.

I think Horgan needs to reconvene the leg' as soon as possible, get some things passed and, ideally, keep everyone sitting in the House through the long hot rest of summer. Best way to quickly reduce the BC Lib ranks is to make them work, and work hard. If not this summer, then an early and grueling fall session. Above all, don't give them a frikkin' holiday! And don't give them any time to organize a strategy.

Waiting is dangerous, and the majority of BC voters want some action now.

bekayne

NorthReport wrote:

Hopefully if she goes the NDP win her seat in the by-election and all they would need is 2 more and the NDP would have a majority of its own

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelowna_West

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

jas wrote:

I'm disappointed that we have to wait this long for the swearing-in.  I'm not sure if this is a normal legislative timeline or not. Meanwhile, Site C continues to hemorrhage money.

I think Horgan needs to reconvene the leg' as soon as possible, get some things passed and, ideally, keep everyone sitting in the House through the long hot rest of summer. Best way to quickly reduce the BC Lib ranks is to make them work, and work hard. If not this summer, then an early and grueling fall session. Above all, don't give them a frikkin' holiday! And don't give them any time to organize a strategy.

Waiting is dangerous, and the majority of BC voters want some action now.

..agreed!

Pogo Pogo's picture

cco wrote:

I'd think everyone in the BC legislature cares, because if she loses the leadership and then resigns her seat, the vote math changes for the six months until Horgan's obligated to call a by-election. She could stay on as a backbencher, but I'm not sure how many former leaders decide to do that. Plus, the BC Libs won't be eager to topple the government while they're mid-contest.

i agree with everything except the last point.  I think Joe Clark would also disagree.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

bekayne wrote:

NorthReport wrote:

Hopefully if she goes the NDP win her seat in the by-election and all they would need is 2 more and the NDP would have a majority of its own

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelowna_West

It would probably take the entrance of stron Con and Libertarian candidates into the byelection that split the right-wing vote.  If that happened-especially if the Con candidate somehow ran ahead of the BC Liberal candidate and either threw the seat to the BCNDP or took the seat in their own right, that might be the moment you'd see the BC Libs implode, as Social Credit did under BC Lib pressure in the early Nineties and the Liberals and PCs both did under Socred pressure in the Seventies.

quizzical

Kelowna is a mess.

iv users are openly shooting up in the parks. meth psychosis has people running up to cars tied up in traffic.

a brand new 6 story apt building under construction burnt to the ground today along with another one it started on fire. 100's are homeless just today and there was already 100's.

if they channel some resources into there asap it could be winnable in a by-election.

NorthReport

Christy Clark is probably sunning herself at some Kelowna beachside resort 

Unfortunately there is going to be a lot more of this kind of activity for Horgan in soon to be, temperaturewise at least, California North

Horgan to visit wildfire evacuees

Premier-designate John Horgan is scheduled to meet with evacuees Sunday afternoon

https://www.langleytimes.com/news/horgan-to-visit-wildfire-evacuees/

bekayne

quizzical wrote:

Kelowna is a mess.

iv users are openly shooting up in the parks. meth psychosis has people running up to cars tied up in traffic.

a brand new 6 story apt building under construction burnt to the ground today along with another one it started on fire. 100's are homeless just today and there was already 100's.

if they channel some resources into there asap it could be winnable in a by-election.

Yeah, this urban hellscape is really ripe for the picking:

http://globalnews.ca/news/3525715/kelownas-jobless-rate-one-of-lowest-in...

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i agree with louis on his assesment. i watched meggs work at city hall for years and he operates from the dark side..full of threats and personal attacks. one weaver is enough. 

The shadow of Geoff Meggs

Big news on the political front: Geoff Meggs is leaving civic politics and moving to the provincial scene, where he will be working for premier-designate, John Horgan, as chief of staff. While I have been very pleased with all of John Horgan’s other announcements so far, this one leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Many will be unfamiliar with Geoff Meggs’ past, but it’s a past worth knowing.....

NorthReport

Able-bodied First Nations people remain in their communities to battle B.C. wildfires

http://www.straight.com/news/935051/able-bodied-first-nations-people-rem...

NorthReport

Debunking the Fraser Institute’s latest scaremongering on Indigenous rights

http://www.straight.com/news/934906/seth-klein-debunking-fraser-institut...

NorthReport
NorthReport
NorthReport

!!

NorthReport

As the B.C. NDP savour their salad days, the Liberals must be choking

 

On it went. Throughout it all, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and his two MLAs – the NDP's partners in this government – often nodded approvingly. The Liberals remained stoned-faced , seemingly still coming to grips with the party's stunning reversal of fortune.

These are halcyon times for Mr. Horgan and his party. The opening months of this new government should mostly be fun, barring some unforeseen crisis. The life of an Opposition MLA can often be tedious and discouraging. Controlling the levers of power is what it's all about; the NDP now do. The measures the government plans to introduce in the coming months should mostly be popular ones. They inherit an enviable ledger sheet, too.

On Monday, when the New Democrats introduce an interim budget, we will see how they plan to spend more than $2-billion in money not forecast or budgeted for that flowed into the treasury over the last few months of the former government's tenure. What a delightful problem with which the NDP now has to grapple.

It must bring the Liberals to tears.

The governing agreement that the NDP has with Mr. Weaver's Greens looks solid and it's difficult imagining the government going out of its way to test its durability – at least in the short term. The two parties have far more in common than on which they disagree. Liberal insiders still believe the partnership is vulnerable, but that seems more wishful thinking than anything.

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/as-the-bc-ndp-savour-their-sala...

NorthReport

B.C. NDP cast budget as 'first steps' toward reform

Throne Speech promises eventual action on child care, poverty and climate, but renter rebates to be addressed Monday

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/election-promises...

NorthReport

Iglika Ivanova and Alex Hemingway: Budget update investments a positive first step for B.C.

 

The B.C. Budget Update injects much-needed investment in a number of important policy areas that will quickly start to make a positive difference in the lives of families and communities around the province.

https://www.straight.com/news/963106/iglika-ivanova-and-alex-hemingway-b...

Rev Pesky

Welcome to the world of Orange and Green, and proportional representation:

Weaver: NDP election promises 'irrelevant'

Andrew Weaver, the BC Green Party Leader, says the new NDP government will not implement its election promises for a $400 annual renters' rebate or its $10-a-day daycare plan because the Greens will not support those measures as proposed.

..."Their election commitments are irrelevant right now," Mr. Weaver said in an interview on Tuesday.

"They did not win the election. They have an agreement [with the Greens] that has the confidence in the House."

..."On the $400 renters' rebate – it's not going to happen," Mr. Weaver said. "We share the same values as the BC NDP on making life more affordable, but that money would be better targeted to where it is needed most."

He said the three-member Green caucus supports universal daycare, but the specifics of the NDP plan are in dispute.

I was wondering how long it would take Weaver to realize he has the whip hand in the legislature. Not that long, apparently.

NorthReport

Weaver is grandstanding. At some point someone will cut him down to size!

Do people seriously think blocking childcare and renter's assistance is going to score points for the Greens?

Rev Pesky

From NorthReport:

Weaver is grandstanding. At some point someone will cut him down to size!

Oh, I think he's grandstanding all right. The question is, who's going to 'cut him down to size'. The NDP cannot continue as government without the Greens, and Weaver knows it. As he said, 'the NDP didn't win the election', it is the NDP/Green coalition that has the confidence of the Legislature.

So, rather than pointing out that 'someone will cut him down to size', you might try suggesting how that could be done.

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

Welcome to the world of Orange and Green, and proportional representation:

I think the current BC NDP government backed by the BC Greens is far better than a phoney FPTP majority Liberal government backed by only 40% of the voters would have been.

Rev Pesky

From JKR:

I think the current BC NDP government backed by the BC Greens is far better than a phoney FPTP majority Liberal government backed by only 40% of the voters would have been.

Except of course now the Greens, who aren't even a phony majority, in fact are the party in the legislature with the smallest percentage of the vote, are dictating to the NDP what their program is going to be. As Andrew Weaver said, the NDP promises are 'irrelevant'.

Tell me how it's good that a party with 17% of the vote is gets to dictate policy, while it's bad that a party with 40% of the vote sits on the sidelines.

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

From JKR:

I think the current BC NDP government backed by the BC Greens is far better than a phoney FPTP majority Liberal government backed by only 40% of the voters would have been.

Except of course now the Greens, who aren't even a phony majority, in fact are the party in the legislature with the smallest percentage of the vote, are dictating to the NDP what their program is going to be. As Andrew Weaver said, the NDP promises are 'irrelevant'.

Tell me how it's good that a party with 17% of the vote is gets to dictate policy, while it's bad that a party with 40% of the vote sits on the sidelines.

The NDP government does not have to adhere to the Greens as the NDP government has the option of calling an election or making a deal with some members of the Liberals to maintain the confidence of the Legislature. So the Greens can't unreasonably dictate the NDP government's policis as that could precipitate an election or a different government formation without their inclusion. The reason the NDP and Greens were able to reach a governing agreement is that much of their election platforms coincided and happily these policies supported by the majority of voters can now be implemented. I think it's great having the Legislature represent the majority of voters for a change. Majority rule should be compulsory in any democracy.

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