Some things just need to be said...

Monday, July 25, 2005

BC Liberals ~ leaked and dangerous email?

Open and accountable. The BC Liberals bread and butter while in opposition was freedom of information and they used it more than any other applicant to great success.

They are sly these BC Liberals. When they came into power, they knew how effective their use of Freedom of Information was and were not going to be caught as easily by the NDP. They have slashed funding to the Privacy commissioners office by 15%, the same for the Auditor and the Ombudsman.

Apart from those new and improved roadblocks to access to information, now they appear to be withholding more info., keeping track of political requests, delaying releases and now the best part, they want no records kept, relying on people's memories and the telephone.

Victoria mudraker and political columnist for 24 Hours, Sean Holman has gathered up the spicy email sent to Vancouver Island Health Authority communications folks. Seems they are concerned with the BC Opposition's use of Freedom of Information to request potentially embarrasing or incriminating emails. Oddly enough the email asking people not to put sensitive material in an email was leaked! I guess the Liberals were right to be worried...

"...Even before the election, the volume of FOI requests at the Ministry from the opposition were increasing - and they were sometimes asking for materials from specific individuals (ie communications staff). This trend will likely continue now. The reminder is for us to use the phone a lot more than we have been. And no briefing notes on locally changed climates, please...If you don't want it on the front page of the TC, don't put it in E mail... ~ Suzanne Germain, Media & Issues Advisor Vancouver Island Health Authority (email leaked to

Imagine what could happen if a social worker doing a case report decided they can't keep notes because the opposition may get the information later, or a company seeks government support for a new mine, better not put it in an email, better to call the Minister and meet for coffee after hours, and for GOrDon's sake, don't use a lobbyist!

One more thing, what's a good cell phone scanner cost? My old buddy Moe Sihota might recall as he was the receipiant of text versions of recorded calls made by a Social Credit cabinet minister.

Of course that was before the BC NDP brought in Freedom of Information! Ironic that this may be the only way one can find out what the most open and accountable government in Canada is up to given their deliberate efforts not to keep records of the business they are performing for the people of BC.

If you don't mind email to convey messages you can email Suzanne Germain, Media & Issues Advisor, Vancouver Island Health Authority. At the same time perhaps you want to email a copy to her boss, the Minister of Health, Leader of the Opposition, as it will save some tax money in freedom of information requests.

Check out Sean's column at 24 Hours, "Spin doctor: Be careful with e-mail"

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