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open government

It would seem -- somewhere along the way -- the government decided doing something to British Columbians was easier than working for them.
Delays and fees in Freedom of Information requests are reaching such ridiculous proportions that if you didn't laugh you'd cry. And worst of all, our various rulers are more than happy to continue blocking our information rights, seeming to believe they will have no price to pay. But there are a number of potential cracks in the wall of secrecy at both the federal and provincial levels.
If the federal government doesn't want to hear from people about open government, why did we conduct a series of roundtables in five Canadian cities this spring to get feedback on our new open data portal? I even participated in the first Google Hangout by a federal minister to discuss the potential of open data.
Shhhhh. Don't tell anybody, but the Harper™ government is 'consulting' Canadians on Open Government. Well, sort of. There has been no press release about the consultation program. No ad campaign, either. And the program was quietly started in the middle of summer, while everyone was on vacation. It's almost as if Harper doesn't want anyone to know about it. Crazy talk, right?
Since 2009, the Liberals have shuffled ministers in and out of the Ministers of Citizens' Services and Open Government role so quickly that there's hardly been a chance to make any meaningful progress.
Would you trust a leader who won't make concrete commitments to openness and transparency? Many British Columbians will be asking themselves that very question over the next six weeks.
Scheduled to roll out at the end of this month, the federal government's Web Renewal Action! Plan will change how government information is posted and archived online, and not for the better. It clearly outlines the intention to drastically cut the number of government websites available to Canadians. Even more worrisome is the fact it's also contemplating preserving only that which receives a suitable number of clicks. Because everyone knows the most important information is always the most popular.
Our towns and cities do not function in isolation. They do not exist in a vacuum. Municipalities can learn from one another's experiences. More importantly, citizens can too.
The B.C. government sure does love secrecy for its educational institutions -- or at least their subsidiary companies. What the information and privacy commissioner said would be a relatively simple change to definitions was, according to a B.C. minister, a much bigger issue requiring consultations and even changes to other sections of the act. So, a year later, what has been done? In a word: nothing.
Currently, the available open data seems to be used primarily by developers who make and sell apps, or by enthusiasts who write code as a hobby. It leaves me wondering if the only promise of open data is in monetizing that information for a downloadable app that may be of limited long-term value.
Officials prevented Kristi Miller from speaking to journalists about her possible explanation for salmon stock depletion. Unfortunately, this appears to be part of an emerging pattern in which the federal government is seeking to subvert or discredit the role of science in policy-making.
The premier of British Columbia's plan to achieve transparency by holding town halls around the province is a little underwhelming. Town halls have been with us since the American Revolution -- maybe since the Middle Ages -- and where has it got us?