State of Transparency in BC
Transparency in BC has been steadily decreasing, and over the past week there have been some great examples of that decline.
BC Government wants Kinder Morgan pipeline plans made public
Oil spill concerns are front and centre for a lot of British Columbians opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, yet Kinder Morgan continues to refuse to release details of their spill response plan.
The BC government has been trying to get the National Energy Board to compel Kinder Morgan to release this information but in January the NEB ruled that Kinder Morgan is not required to release this plan to the public.
Legislation exists in Washington State requiring Kinder Morgan to release their complete plan for the section of the pipeline which goes through the state, but due to lack of legislation in Canada, the disclosure in Canada is not required.
It is time that Canada started leading the world for our requirements around transparency, especially when it comes to controversial projects with potentially large scale environmental impacts. Although the NEB could have required that Kinder Morgan release this info to the public, or could have asked the Federal Government to create legislation requiring this info to be public, the head of the NEB simply said they hoped that industry will work with the public to be more transparent in the future. (link)
It is great to see the government fighting for this information to be released ahead of any decision on this project’s future, now if they were only as transparent as they want Kinder Morgan to be…
BC withholding report on health effects of LNG
Despite the BC government’s push to get the details of the Kinder Morgan proposal released ahead of the planned expansion, they seem perfectly content with not releasing a report on the health effects associated with natural gas fracking in North Eastern BC.
The report was commissioned by the government in 2012 and was supposed to be released in March 2014, but as of yet, has still not been released. Independent MLA, Vicki Huntington has been trying to get the report by filing freedom of information requests to obtain it, but the government has withheld the report. They are citing Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the government to withhold information if the disclosure could be harmful to the financial or economic interests of a public body.
Whether there are health impact associated with fracking or not, withholding information, especially information which could harm the economic interests of a government body banking on natural gas extraction, doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the fracking process or trust in the government.
Thank you Vicki for continuing to fight to get this information made public.
BC budget is balanced, yet the debt still goes up
Last week the BC government released the 2015 budget. They are claiming victory in having balanced the budget for the third straight year, yet the debt continues to rise. With the release of this budget the debt is estimated to rise to $70 billion dollars within three years. This is up from just $45 billion when Christy Clark took over in 2011.
When the government steps up and proclaims that they have a balanced budget, they are misleading the public. Vaughn Palmer, from the Vancouver Sun, put out an article this week about how the government’s accounting works. The truth is, the public doesn’t care if there is an operating surplus and a capital deficit. British Columbians want to know whether the government is keeping their spending in check, or increasing the amount that will need to be paid back in the future and how the government is presenting this to the public, is not very transparent.
Christy Clark says government isn’t responsible for Translink
With the referendum ballots being mailed out in less than a month, Premier Christy Clark made a statement earlier this week trying to pass responsibility for Translink and the outcome of the referendum on to the mayors. “Translink belongs to the mayors and only the mayors,” She said.
It has been pointed out repeatedly since then that one of two things is going on. Either she doesn’t understand that provincial legislation created Translink, the Transportation Minister oversees it and only the provincial government can step in and change the accountability at Translink, or she is deliberately misleading the public by trying to distance herself and her government from the issues Translink is facing.
As long as no one is holding Translink accountable, they never will be accountable. For more on how Translink could be made more accountable, check out our previous post.
Written by James Filippelli, Leader of Your Political Party of BC. Views expressed are those of the author and don’t necessarily represent the views of the entire party. YPP encourages members to form their own opinions about all issues outside of YPP’s core principles of True Transparency, and the Triple Sustainability Principle.