Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The FIPPA industry

Manitoba taxpayers would be shocked at the amount of public resources that are used up diverting civil servants' time to meet the media, opposition and lobby groups' abuse of freedom of information laws to go on fishing expeditions. Not that in general the principle of freedom of information is incorrect, absolutely not -- but it was never meant to be a crutch for lazy reporters looking for obscuria to fill copy or lazy opposition and special interest groups who are bereft of ideas to engage the public.

Take this latest example, CP repo Steve Lambert's shocker about his request for info about the Hecla deal. Surprise, surprise -- his request was refused as is generally the case when the government enters an arrangement with the private sector. What would be the prospect of future public/private deals if businesspeople thought their internal info, that is required for government's due diligence in any arrangement, would become public for all -- including competitors -- to see?

Witness the end of deals with the private sector.

Mr. Lambert is a smart guy. He knew this at the outset when he submitted the FIPPA request for the info. He knew what the outcome would be so he could write the story "another secretive government deal, information request denied." Ooooooh.

It was a premeditated hit on the government that has become standard fare with several reporters -- and the other groups mentioned above --- who see freedom of information laws like FIPPA not as a public tool for reasonable access to government information, but as a bludgeon to use on the government at will.

The real FIPPA outrage is the FIPPA industry that has grown in recent years, not any particular government secrecy consipracy that makes for good copy, but is simply not true.

We won't go into the inherent hypocrisy of the Opposition when they participate in the standard rent-a-quote support role in the story, as our friend Curtis did that quite ably. We would only add this will continue to be Huey's achille's heel, as he cannot distance himself from his participation in high level decisions of the Filmon government (especially when he brags about it).


Oh, and for the record, on the Comments Closed continuing strange obsession about who's behind the BBAs, he/she/they indeed have it wrong (as others have in the past with other guesses, as we've discussed before). Apart from that we won't participate further in this nonsense. It may well be a job for someone to say something himself.