Friday, February 27, 2009

Unlike Obama, Harper hides behind the truth: Watchdog blasts Tories for secrecy obsession

Many people, including the CEO of a large Canadian media company, have asked me why I have doggedly pursued the income trust matter for so long, My answer was simple. Unlike him, I refuse to be lied to by my government. This combined with the fact that since November 1, 2006 I have known that Stephen Harper’s allegation that income trusts cause tax leakage was a demonstrable lie, for anyone who wanted to lift a finger to find out. Those unwilling to lift a finger were all the members of the NDP and Conservative Party, and about 98% of Canada’s Main Stream Misleadia, who seem intent on making themselves ever more irrelevant with each passing day.

How many of you think that Canadians should lose $35 billion of their savings based on a blatant lie?

Watchdog blasts Tories for secrecy obsession
Information chief challenges Ottawa to ease 'stranglehold'

Feb 27, 2009 04:30 AM
Toronto Star

OTTAWA–A secretive Conservative government shares the blame for an access-to-information system that is dogged with delays and on the brink of "crisis," a scathing report says.

Information Commissioner Robert Marleau issued a hard-hitting condemnation yesterday of Ottawa's "risk-averse, disclosure-averse" atmosphere that denies Canadians the information they're entitled to about the workings of the federal government.

And he singled out the Conservatives' "stranglehold in the centre on communications" and challenged Ottawa's "tendency to withhold information."

President Obama's Open Government: A significant step forward for our democracy.
January 23, 2009
World Resources Institute

On his first full day in office, President Obama issued an Executive Order and several memoranda on transparency and participation in the Federal Government. This is a welcome and significant step forward for our democracy.

The new President’s directives aim to close the revolving door between the federal government and lobbyists, instruct federal agencies to make decisions in the open and facilitate disclosure of presidential records.

“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government,” Obama indicated. Circulated to the heads of agencies and departments, this presidential guidance will prompt them to make government information available to the public and foster public participation in the making of decisions.

The Specifics

Ease Access to Information
: The President is instructing the heads of federal agencies to interpret the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with a presumption that government information should be made available to the public. The national security and privacy exemptions contained in the 1966 law have too often been used by public officials to conceal abuses of power and errors in situations where the public had a legitimate right to know. President Obama’s statement is clear: “The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.” “In the face of doubt, openness prevails,” he added.

Limit the Scope of Claims of Executive Privilege:
President Obama’s Executive Order ensures that citizens have greater access to presidential records and communications. Executive privilege can be claimed to withhold presidential documents from the public in the narrow instances where “national security (including the conduct of foreign relations), law enforcement, or the deliberative processes of the executive branch” would be impaired. However, the new Order’s exemptions from disclosure are much narrower than its predecessor’s and aim to reduce the number of instances where former presidents and their heirs can withhold information from the public.

Affirmative Disclosure of Information:
The public’s right to be informed about decisions and facts that affect it should encompass a duty on the part of the government to proactively disclose and disseminate information that is relevant to affected communities. The President, in a welcome clarification informed its Administration that “the presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public. They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government.”

Renewed Emphasis on Public Participation:
This will ensure that decisions best reflect the interest of the public and benefit from the greatest level of possible expertise. “Government should be participatory,” the President wrote. “Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions.” He added that “executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information.”

New Technologies:
The internet’s interactive features will be used to better disseminate government information to a wide audience and increase the level of public participation in decision-making. An early sign of this trend is the new website. This interactive platform will enable the public to track, review and comment on decisions made by the head of the executive. President Obama has also signaled his intent to follow through on a campaign promise to make all non-emergency bills available for public comment before signature.

Restoring Scientific Integrity in the Federal Government:
This has been a campaign promise of Obama which was echoed in recent speeches as well as in his inaugural address. The President vowed to restore science to its rightful place. This initial statement along with the memoranda of the next day suggest a will to ensure that heads of agencies respect the advice of technical and scientific experts, pursue the non-partisan prosecution of the law and interpret legal provisions in a non-partisan and even-handed manner. President Obama should follow through on these remarks and ensure that the political review and communication of findings does not undermine the integrity and independence of scientific data and analysis.

1 comment:

Dr Mike said...

It appears that nothing has changed in over 2 years except to get worse.

This is the most secretive gov`t this country has ever had even tho it is you & I who pay the freight.

We pay their wages & we elect them & still we are not privy to what the hell is going on.

Blacking-out 18 pages was done for a reason--to hide something.

So why hide something , usually because you don`t want anyone to see what you have done because it would not pass the sniff test.

Wonder what would happen if these clowns did not actually work for us.

Dr Mike Popovich