(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – October 26, 2015) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is demanding that the BC Government take immediate action to implement the recommendations made by the Province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner in the investigative report released last week.
Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham reported that the BC Government regularly violates a key provision of the FOIPPA that requires public bodies to respond to access to information requests “openly, accurately and completely” and without delay. Her report concludes that such sweeping violations have resulted in a serious erosion of the integrity of BC’s access to information process.
Commissioner Denham found that BC government employees, including Premier Clark’s Deputy Chief of Staff, permanently delete emails on a routine basis that by law must be retained. Commissioner Denham also found that government employees, through deliberate action or negligence, repeatedly fail to provide records relevant to requests for information under the Act. One of the allegations of government non-compliance investigated by Commissioner Denham’s office concerns a request made to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for records relating to a meeting about missing women along the Highway of Tears (Highway 16) in northern BC. Commissioner Denham has also asked the RCMP to investigate after Ministerial Assistant George Gretes admitted that he lied under oath during the OIPC investigation.
UBCIC Vice - President Bob Chamberlin was unequivocal: “The right to full access to information from public bodies in BC is integral to Indigenous Peoples’ demands for and pursuit of justice, including justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and families struggling with missing mothers, sisters and daughters.” He continued, “Access to information, including access to electronic communications, is also critical to a functioning democracy based on government openness, accountability and public trust.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC, cautioned, “Such deliberate and systemic violations of the Freedom of Information Act by employees of the province, including Premier Clark’s senior advisors and ministers, point to a culture of obstruction, secrecy and deceit. Premier Clark is on record stating her clear commitment to open government; however, this behaviour reflects a contempt for the law and for the public that is reminiscent of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government. Canadians have just resoundingly rejected this approach and its tactics and Premier Clark would be wise to take notice or experience a similar devastating rejection of her government in the next election.”
Grand Chef Stewart Phillip, President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs: (604) 684-0231
Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs: (604) 684-0231