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

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Then, then, and now

MR. WILLIAMS: In subparagraphs (c), and it is particularly in subparagraph (e). I will read subparagraph (c), it talks about "plans that relate to the management of personnel of or the administration of a public body..." and again, even more importantly is subparagraph (e) which talks about "information about negotiations carried on by or for a public body or the government of the province."

That particular exclusion is not in the old act and it has been inserted in the new act. Of course, the concern here is the issue on Voisey’s Bay or on any other major negotiations that the Province is involved in. By virtue of this section, the head of the public body would be permitted to exclude information about negotiations carried on by or for a public body. This is of particular interest, in these times, Mr. Chairman, because of the Voisey’s Bay negotiations which are going on. It has been a big issue for the Opposition, that in fact, there should be more disclosure to the public.


That is the fundamental issue on Voisey’s Bay. This clause hides negotiations. It was not in the old Freedom of Information Act. We are trying to have a more open act, and now what we have, is a more secretive act. That is what we have accomplished, which is sad. The people have a right to know. They have a right to know what the government is negotiating on their behalf.

If we allow this clause to go through as is, without the amendment that is presented by the Opposition, then government can continue to have secret negotiations. So if the Minister of Mines and Energy wants to have secret negotiations about oil and gas, well, then he can do so. If he wants to have secret negotiations or negotiations in private about the Lower Churchill, our hydroelectric power, then he can do that as well. They can basically negotiate all the resources of this Province away, have the deals done and the people will never know what happened, what the reason were or why they did it. That is why this amendment is so very, very important to this legislation.

MR. WILLIAMS: […] last December 5, when I announced my intention for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party - I am not sure if any hon. members opposite were there on that day when I announced it. In case you were not, I am going to tell you what I said. The reason it is important is because the Minister of Justice indicated that on December 12, 2000, a review committee was set up to look at the Freedom of Information Act. Well, a week before that I made a statement - and you must have reacted to it because I quoted Abraham Lincoln, he said: "Let the people know the truth and the country is safe. We will keep the people of this Province fully informed; there will be no secret documents, there will be no hidden agenda. If you and I know the facts then we will collectively decide the best course for our future.." of this Province. That is what I said at that time, and a week later the committee was struck to review the Freedom of Information Act. I am glad that you took that initiative.


That is what my platform is all about; no hidden documents, no hidden agenda. That is why our position is so clear on Voisey’s Bay. No secret negotiations, no secret documents. If the people know the country will be safe, and they have a right to know. They need to know the details on major negotiations of a $50 billion resource. They have a right to know. Why should it be kept secret? That is why I said it.

Let’s go to our policy on Freedom of Information, which is contained in our Blue Book in the 1999 election. "A PC Government will establish a new Freedom of Information Act to reduce the cost of accessing information...". First point, reduce the cost of accessing information. Secondly, " reduce the wait for information, and to ensure that Ministers actually provide the information requested where that information belongs in the public domain...". Three pretty sound, reasonable principles.

Now, the comment from the Minister of Justice. In the paper he talked about a change of attitude. If I may, I have to take off my glasses because I am nearsighted. That change will not come overnight, he said, there is a mindset that has to be changed. It is no good to have a progressive piece of legislation if we do not change the mindset and understand that it is the public’s right to access the information. I agree with the Minister of Justice. The mindset of members opposite should be changed, I agree.


With regard to negotiations, it is the position of this Opposition that there should not be negotiations in secret, especially on major matters, especially on Voisey’s Bay. I would suggest to hon. members opposite that this is the Voisey’s Bay clause. We know why it was there and it is wrong.

And now:
Hebron information confidential: Dunderdale

Newfoundland and Labrador's natural resources minister is refusing to release information about an agreement that deals with a scrapped component of the Hebron project, despite pressure from the Opposition.

In the house of assembly this week, the Opposition Liberals have been asking Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale to release details of the agreement that deal with any cancellations involving the development.

Dunderdale has refused.

"We haven't released the amount of money concerning the part of the project that now needs to be redesigned because it is commercially sensitive info," Dunderdale told the legislature Monday.



At 8:00 AM, December 19, 2009 , Blogger Ed Hollett said...

And then she later admitted it was less than $50 million.

Such a small amount of money on such a large project and such a gigantic amount of nonsense she peddled.


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