On Monday, Justice Minister Felix Collins unveiled the province’s new “open and accountable” Access to Information and Privacy Protection Act — an act which, in effect, lets any minister decide that if he or she finds you very vexing and prone to frivolity, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell you’re getting that information, and that’s final. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
This, according to Premier Kathy Dunderdale and other members of the government caucus, is a wonderful thing. It actually enhances the people’s right to information.
In other words, now that the government can suppress any information it wants on a whim, information will now be more accessible than ever.
Following this delightful new line of logic, we might well anticipate similar legislation to crop up in other areas. Here are some possibilities:
An Act to Prevent Political Plundering of the Public Purse
It is paramount that elected officials remain thrifty and accountable with the people’s money. Therefore, notwithstanding any other clause in this act, of which there are none:
1. All money disbursed to members of the House of Assembly for any reason shall be done so in a paper bag containing small bills, with no electronic or paper record-keeping.
An Act to Curb Patronage Appointments
It is imperative that all government appointments be made entirely on the basis of achievement and merit. Therefore:
1. (a) All appointed posts shall be filled by candidates who share no more than one degree of separation with the minister doing the appointing.
1. (b) Notwithstanding Section 1 (a), any candidate who, through donation or contractual arrangement, has provided a mutually acceptable sum of money or equivalent in support or services, shall be a definite shoo-in for the job.
An Act to Set Minimum Annual House of Assembly Sittings
The people’s business takes place in the legislature, and that is where it must be done, and be seen to be done. Therefore:
1. (a) With the exception of Section 1 (b), the House of Assembly shall sit for no less than 40 days in any given year.
1. (b) The premier doesn’t want to.
An Act to Ensure Fair Representation in the House of Assembly
It is important that all elected members are given ample and unimpeded time to speak to any given issue in the people’s legislature. Therefore:
1. (a) With the exception of Section 1 (b), all members are expected to maintain decorum, to direct all comments to the Speaker, to refrain from speaking out of turn, and to avoid unparliamentary language at all times.
1. (b) You are a government member.
And finally, legislation completely in line with new access to information rules:
An Act to XXXX the XXXXX XX and XXXXX
1. (X) All XXXXX will heretofore XXXXXX XXX XXXXX by the XXXXXXXX of XXXXXX.
X. (X) X XXXXXXX XX XXX XXXXXX XXXXXX X XXXXXX.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s
commentary editor. Email: email@example.com.