For the “Know” to reach all whom it may concern - Alcyonenews

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Posted September 26, 2020

For the “Know” to reach all whom it may concern

On September 4, the Victoria Times-Colonist carried a letter to the editor captioned “No response to a simple question”,  signed by Roxanne P. Helme, QC. She reacts to a September 2, T-C article: “B.C. government undermines information rights”, pronounced by no lesser than the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

In June 2019, Helme addressed ICBC with a FOI access request.  She had heard  that ICBC had “given huge raises” to its “own contract lawyers” and her simple question was:  
“Did you recently raise the pay rates for your contract lawyers and if so by how much?”

The ICBC  “Senior Information Officer” responded, informing Helme that the information about the ICBC pay raise to its Lawyers was not “readily available and as such had to be collated by ICBC’s “Business Insights Department”.  What ?

Later Helme inquired about the pending answer to her FOI and ICBC informed her that “At the time, the queue for such data could range from 18 to 24 months”.   What?

Helme is an experienced Lawyer, certainly zealous of her credibility and capable of guarding it. She is professionally skilled at sorting the wheat from the chaff, too. Therefore I assume that her message is succinct.  On that basis let’s delve into it:

1.   The Act stipulates FOI access requests be answered within a month. In this instance, this makes ICBC some 14 months in arrears and running. This contains the connotation of the AG having no qualms about being a de facto accomplice in this blatant violation of the law ...

2. That there is an 18 to 24 month lineup for FOI access to ICBC information manifests to ICBC being run secretively, operating from the dungeon.  But the ICBC, more than many other public bodies, touches the  lives of virtually the whole populace. This imposes on it a correspondingly large obligation to operate in the open.  There is no conceivable legitimate defense for ICBC trampling the fundamental principle of transparency incumbent on it  managing this large and important public enterprise.

It is the duty of the AG to cause the ICBC to cease and desist operating secretly, from that “flammable dumpster” if you will. It is also a duty of the AG to ensure that the ICBC operate transparently forthwith.

3. It is also incumbent on the AG to endeavour to ameliorate the consequences  from the ICBC having operated secretively in the past. This includes but is not limited to explaining to society why the AG was withholding from the public the knowledge of the boosting of lawyers pay while publically engaging in bravado about distancing the lawyers from the ICBC “feeding trough”.

4.   The ICBC evasion of an honest response to Helme’s FOI query sustains the  presumption that the truth of the matter is unfit for public consumption.

Now, after Helme has informed us that there is a cat in the bag, it is imperative it be let out for us to see what the ICBC actively hides from us. One thing leads to another and there may be more “cats of interest” in the ICBC bag.

5.   We need to know what triggered a pay increase for the ICBC lawyers; and how “hefty” the pay increase was; and the yearly cost of the increase; to learn why ICBC entertained the lawyers pay increase while in a “burning Dumpster” situation, all transpiring on the watch of AG Eby; and we need  Eby and Horgan to explain why they did not mention the pay boost when they were bragging that they were rendering the ICBC efficient.

6. We need to know how many are the ICBC “inside” Lawyers, the tally to include all, regardless   of how they may be “associated” with the ICBC;

7. Recently Eby and Horgan introduced “no fault insurance” for ICBC. We need to know how many “inside” Lawyers were terminated by the ICBC due to resulting reduction of the need for their services.

The Helme message is of Province-wide sharp interest. It is good that it reached the TC and spread to The Marketplace and to  But this is small coverage, utterly insufficient for democracy to function. The “status quo” knows that and loose no sleep on account of it. But this would not be the case if society had a means for spreading the message to the whole of the citizenry.

I would speculate and say that if we had such a facilty for publicizing iformation, ICBC, and the other tentacles of government would “behave” rather than risk being exposed to  the almimdy Public ...

We need the Ideas Bank, for without that, Democracy cannot be had.

Saluting  the Right To Know week.
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