On Monday night I had one of those nights where it was hard to get to sleep. Perhaps it was because I was coming down off the activities of the day, or maybe it was the thoughts of what awaited for me the next day weren’t enough to make me want to lay back and look forward to it.
Either way, it was well after midnight, and I was still wide awake, thinking I was the only one in the place. Then, out of no where, I decided to check Twitter and see if someone in another part of the world may have something interesting to say – somewhere it wasn’t such an ungodly hour.
Much to my surprise, I started picking up on a couple of tweets from my fellow journalists in St. John’s who were talking about the happenings at the House of Assembly.
I began to read, and the more I did, the faster I realized something: they were talking about what was happening right now.
I immediately went to the House of Assembly Web Site and started watching the Live Stream. Sure enough – there they were. In fact, there were a quite number of MHA’s there. At 1:00am.
They were debating legislation that was introduced earlier in the day, relating to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Now, if you don’t know what that means, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) is law that says if anyone in the world wants to see some kind of Government document – from a report to an email – then they’re at full liberty to do so. In fact, the same law applies for any organization with public relations.
So let’s say, Government has a report that says Muskrat Falls is going to go belly up five years after it’s being built, but they don’t want that information to be public. ATIPPA would allow someone like, say, oh, I don’t know, the Opposition, to request to see that document, and there’s nothing the Government can say about it.
That is until now.
New amendments to the law are now suggesting, basically, if the Government doesn’t “want” to release a document, then they don’t “have” to. In fact, it’s at the sole discretion of the Minister of that Department now if they even wanted to release the document at all, because all they would have to do is say the documents are secret cabinet documents which aren’t allowed to be released to the public.
“The nerve!” You say? Well, that’s what the Liberals and NDP said as well.
They were so mad with it all, they decided to filibuster the Legislation – which meant they kept talking, and talking, and talking – and started introducing more proposed changes to the act, which allowed them to talk more, and more and more. They talked, in fact, all through the night on Monday night, all through the night on Tuesday night, and right now as I write this on Wednesday, they’re still at it.
But do we really have a right to be shocked that the Government is doing this? I mean, these are the people we elected, is it not? And we elected them based on what they said they were going to do, correct?
Well, in the PC Party’s platform, which is better known as “The Blue Book,” it reads this:
“We recently received the recommendations of the 2011 statutory review of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We will introduce appropriate reforms to the legislation. We will continue to protect personal information, commercially sensitive information and cabinet documents.”
There it is – right in front of us on page 75. The Government is doing exactly what they said they were going to do. They’re changing the legislation to fit the vague, general, and somewhat misleading explanation that they provided several months ago.
All they’re doing is broadening the definition of ‘cabinet documents’, which they promised to protect, into things that no one ever thought would be considered to be cabinet documents, and thus mislead the opposition parties, the media, and every single person in Newfoundland and Labrador.
What’s wrong with that?
Oh …. Right.
– Rudy Norman