Openness needs to be more than buzzword

It was fascinating to learn last week that a B.C. Liberal staffer quit, as she faces charges in an email deleting scandal in Ontario.

It was fascinating to learn last week that a B.C. Liberal staffer quit, as she faces charges in an email deleting scandal in Ontario.

Laura Miller denies any wrongdoing.

But it’s sure one heck of a coincidence that it’s happening now, as our own provincial government is on the hot seat over their own triple-deleting history.

The announcement of Miller’s resignation comes just as Premier Christy Clark is responding to former privacy commissioner David Loukidelis’s review.

The review was ordered after a scathing report by current privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham, which raised serious concerns about the government’s regular practice of wiping email records so thoroughly they can never be recovered — or, conveniently, be made public through an access to information request.

It’s a practice that we’ve condemned here in this space before, as it causes serious concern about the credibility and secretive nature of our provincial leaders.

In response to Loukidelis’s review, Clark has ordered a stop to the practice of triple deleting emails, will penalize staffers who deliberately destroy records, and has said she’s committed to new legislation that will force the government to document key decisions.

These promises are all in line with Loukidelis’s 27 recommendations.

The government is saying and promising all the right things, but we’ll reserve judgment until we see how things unfold in practice. This whole mess has been a big hit to the credibility of the ruling Liberals.

It took a stink raised about records on the Highway of Tears requested by the official opposition for this to come out into the open.

And it remains to be seen what will happen to former staffer George Gretes whom Denham found had deliberately deleted the records, then lied about it repeatedly.

What really needs to happen is for the government to stop seeing the public as the enemy, and any request for information as some kind of attack, where they need to hide the women and children.

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