Black is white, and the sky is any colour we say it is

Peter Jackson
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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.


Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s

commentary editor. Email:

Twitter: pjackson_NL

Organizations: Public PurseIt, Set Minimum Annual House of Assembly SittingsThe, House of AssemblyIt

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Recent comments

  • William Daniels
    June 13, 2012 - 19:53

    This government obviously has something very big to hide.

  • steve
    June 13, 2012 - 10:14

    Your premise is without merit, Grow-up. If the government wanted actual consultation, they would have told people what they proposed to do with this legislation, and then consulted them. People are not going to turn up to a consultation with no information. Yes, sometimes you do have to withhold certain information, but the old ATIPPA already did that. Minutes from closed meetings could be withheld under the previous version of ATIPPA. The media and members of the opposition are there to help keep governments accountable, no matter what your political stripe. That's the difference between a democracy and an elected dictatorship. Why don't you move to some communist country? You can be sure that the government there will not give out too much information about what they are doing.

  • Grow-Up Grow-Op
    June 13, 2012 - 07:28

    The people of the province were given a chance to comment on this beofre it came to the House, no one did. The opposition never rallied thier troops, too bad too late. Just a stunt now on their part. Sometimes people need their privacy protected. Sometimes in the interest of national security or provincial benefit, things need to be on a need-to-know basis. Sometimes minutes made in closed meetings needs to be kept private for longer to ensure that people spek thier mind to make better decisions. People can on purpose bog down the information request system so bad that valid applications are done poorly or not quick enough. These hostile applications are put in by members of the opposition or media for no other reason than to make themselves relevant for dirt digging. The opposition mentality and practice of this is now showing in the filibuster. The opposition is making themselves look bad.

    • Holden
      June 13, 2012 - 11:09

      "GROW-OP" now that explains the state of mind which thinks this way. By the way I was not consulted. Changes like this should hav been mailed to each household. So goes democracy.