24 August 2015

#23 Not Even Transluscent

We hear so much — and have heard so much from the current government, though admittedly when they were not in power — about the importance of transparency to the democratic process and to good governance. I couldn't agree more. On the other hand, I am having a problem actually seeing it in action.

It will come as a surprise to none that certain information is kept tightly under wraps by the outgoing government (fingers crossed on the “outgoing” part). Anything that might contradict its own interpretation of reality, for example. I found myself surprised, however, by some of the things not shared openly, and there is one example I can give that left me truly perplexed as to why it might have been perceived as threatening.

Every five years for quite some time now the Public Health Agency of Canada commissions a poll on Canadians' attitudes toward HIV. It is generally published shortly after its production and those most concerned comb through it to analyze its contents and what it might mean for our work. The most recent version did not follow that path. We hadn't actually noticed its absence until we were contacted by a journalist who had obtained a copy through an access to information request and wanted to know if we would comment on it.

An access to information request was necessary to see a poll on something not particularly central to the government's program and that had been published without incident many times in the past. I can't even fathom a reason for this, except that the culture of secrecy has gone to such an extreme that no information is willingly released, unless it is spun into a beam to support the government's outlook on things.

The example below (in the further reading link) is not about this poll, but about information not being provided to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is in fact supposed to receive all the information he asks for. I've had more luck seeing through a brick wall.

Further reading here

The  “transparency”
zealots don't know that we all
can see right through them

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