"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mr. Accountability (VII): A right to know what is going on

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament of December 3, 2001:
[MR. WILLIAMS]: The other interesting sections here, as well, are confidences or deliberations by educational bodies and health care bodies and municipalities in the absence of the public. Of course, that was the subject of a question last week: in fact whether what I termed secret meetings, if someone took exception to that, let’s call them private meetings, called the meetings in the absence of the public, the public is excluded, that is the bottom line on it. Those are accepted. As well under this section, plans that relate to the management or the administration of a public body that have not yet been implemented or made public, those as well cannot be disclosed. Those should be disclosed. Then comes the important one as well, one that is equally important: information about negotiations carried on by or for a public body for the government of this Province. That is the Voisey’s Bay clause. That is the Lower Churchill clause. That is the one that this government can use to prevent disclosure of negotiations. Their answer to that is: Well, you cannot disclose the negotiations. If negotiations are going on in private, it is not right to get out and disclose those negotiations. You cannot do that.

Well I submit, Mr. Speaker, we should do that. The people of this Province have a right to know what is going on. It should not be done behind closed doors. It should not be a fait accompli. It should not be signed, sealed and delivered and then rammed down their throats after it is all over. That is too late.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: That is wrong. It is these kinds of clauses that are dangerous to the public. Access to information is extremely important, but denial of the right to know what is going on in those negotiations affects our future and affects the future of the children of this Province. If those resources are given away, forever and a day, when hon. members opposite are long gone, who pays the price? It will not be any of us in this House. It will be our children and it will be our grandchildren. They are the ones who are going to pay the price when it is all over.

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