Skip to content

Editorial: Horgan's assault on freedom of information is unconscionable

$25 fee puts barrier between public and information that is theirs by right
Premier John Horgan addresses the media. |Youtube: Province of BC

Just FYI: In an effort to stop what they feel are excessive requests under the province’s freedom of information system, John Horgan’s government is planning to charge $25 for anyone filing an FOI request.

Charging citizens for the privilege of asking for what is theirs by right is absurd. It’s asinine. It’s an assault on one of the only tools of transparency available to ensure public access to public information.

The only thing transparent here is this unconscionable and self-interested attempt to protect the government of the day from embarrassment or scandal.

A $25 fee won’t stop the Liberals from fishing for damaging info, just as the NDP used to do, sometimes with great success. But it will certainly be a barrier for regular citizens and cash-strapped newsrooms who have a responsibility and right to know.

When confronted with these and other arguments at a press conference last week, Horgan demonstrated an arrogance we last saw in Christy Clark. He held up his government-issued phone and cavalierly declared no one should be interested in what’s on it. Horgan misses the point, deliberately.

By putting a financial barrier between citizens and their own information, he’s not just undermining the ability of the Opposition and nosy reporters to get a look at his dirty laundry. He is undermining the legitimacy of government more broadly.

Already, the B.C. government and the bureaucrats within it suffer from a culture of opacity – and Horgan’s government, just like Clark’s before him, routinely fails to live up to its legislated requirements for FOI today. If Horgan wants to reform FOI, that’s where he should start.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.