Tuesday, January 26, 2010

David Loukidelis move from FOI Commissioner to Deputy Attorney General is wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mr. Transparency Now Will Guard Secrets

Four reasons FOI Commissioner Loukidelis was wrong to jump to BC deputy Attorney General.

By Bill Tieleman

"Secrecy feeds distrust and dishonesty. Openness builds trust and integrity."

- Gordon Campbell, 1998

The man who has been responsible for ensuring that the provincial government fulfills Freedom of Information requests since 1999 is now deputy attorney general for the B.C. Liberal administration.

David Loukidelis will go from being the independent appointee responsible for ensuring openness and transparency in a government that flagrantly violates FOI rules to being one of the top bureaucrats assigned to keeping documents secret from the media and the public.

And that is seriously wrong in at least four ways.

Reason 1: Reversing roles

Loukidelis has an admirable record as information and privacy commissioner, including fighting B.C. Liberal government funding cuts that have reduced citizen and media access to information that should be readily available.

But the government should not have offered him the deputy attorney general’s position, nor should he have taken it.

Reason 2: Railgate optics

What's more, Loukidelis takes over as the senior administrator responsible for dealing with FOI and other requests for government documents in the B.C. Legislature Raid case -- a disquieting prospect given that he has been ultimately responsible for FOI requests previously made by defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi -- who face serious corruption charges.

Who recruited Loukidelis? The former deputy attorney general Allan Seckel, who is now Campbell's own deputy minister.

Reason 3: FOI office shutdown

And the government neglected -- through either sheer stupidity or malicious intent -- to appoint an acting commissioner until Monday afternoon, forcing the entire FOI office to bring all its activities to a halt until then.

You decide which -- because commission executive direct Mary Carlson was forced to write an urgent letter to B.C. Speaker Bill Barisoff Friday after an earlier letter to Premier Gordon Campbell went unanswered.

Only when media attention was focused on the lack of an acting commissioner did the government belatedly appoint B.C.'s conflict of interest commissioner Paul Fraser to temporarily fill in.

Reason 4: A dangerously slippery precedent

But here's what's most important of all. If the FOI commissioner can suddenly take a job in the B.C. government without any restriction, how can the public trust the next person who gets that job won't do the same thing?

And that means the next FOI commissioner may well be a lot more cooperative with the government than their position demands -- in order to seek another and potentially more lucrative job in government afterwards.

Loukidelis is an honourable public servant, and I believe he will continue to act in that manner in his new position.

But let's be clear. He reports directly to both attorney general Mike de Jong and Campbell; he is an Order In Council appointee and can be dismissed without cause at any time.

Anyone who serves as the independent FOI commissioner should be disqualified from subsequently serving in a government position to ensure that the integrity of the office is unquestionable.

As someone who has filed dozens of FOI requests, including several appeals to the commissioner when FOI documents were withheld unfairly and unnecessarily to prevent government embarrassment, I know this government is the most secretive in the country.

Now Loukidelis, the man who often bravely attempted to force Campbell to live up to his own promise that the B.C. government would be the most "open and transparent" in Canada, is part of that same administration that seriously weakened FOI legislation while slashing the commissioner's budget to further hurt access.

And that is beyond regrettable.



Anonymous said...

This should never happen in a democracy. You have to wonder what Campbell and Co. were thinking, but then again, THEY DON'T CARE!

Grant G said...

Wow...That`s all I have to say..then I read this and go Doulble WoW.


Anonymous said...

Is there nothing that will make Gordon Campbell shame-faced? Of course not!
Be-gone!!!And take your crew with you.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. Loukidelis may have been an honourable public servant, but the fact of his taking this job and abandoning the old one shows that is no longer true. For all the reasons you stated in your article.

Actions speak louder than words.

Anonymous said...

BC is in effect an "occupied province" in much the same way Vichy France was a corrupt facist puppet-state of a more evil empire.

Campbell as a humanoid shares characteristics with the likes of Vichy puppet Premier Pierre Laval.

Laval was the ultimate personal opportunist of his era and betrayed his country and abused its citizens for personal power and wealth.

Different than BC and Campbell, Vichy after four years in 1944 was liberated by the Allies and in 1945 Laval was hung as a traitor and war criminal.

We are in the tenth year of our occupation. Where are the allies?


Anonymous said...

I'm getting a bit depressed about this government. They are so corrupt and they operate with such impunity - it makes me feel really helpless. What do we do when our leaders break our laws act immorally and call it cake?

Anonymous said...

I wounder if he was to be called as a witness,to B.V.B trial as to the shenanigans that were going on to impede the process of foi releases for the case?Nothing surprises me anymore it's like limbo Mon<how low can you go!

Anonymous said...

When you don't have decent people to draw from, you have to go to the bottom of the barrel. No honest people would vote for or be a Liberal. This Loukidelis will blend in very nicely with the rest of the garbage. Working for a corrupt gov seems to appeal to this sicko. It's been mentioned before,government people that cover up gov corruption
have to be on the take, you know cash under the table. Only very sleazy people would commit acts of TREASON with Canada's public assets. How could anyone stoop this low.
This must be like old home week for some of the recent immigrants.
Do they have an opinion as to how corrupt this Liberal gov is, and why do some of them accept and support Liberals?
BC taxpayers can rest assured that the neocons news outlets will keep the Loukidelis promotion under the carpet. Campbell has to give the OK. Campbell still has his relatives calling in to CKNW.
We haven't listened to CKNW for 3-4 months. Are they still discussing Glen Clark's porch and the Ferries?
There is no end to the corruption of this government.
One other comment Bill and it has to do with some of the sleaziest people in our health care system, That of course would be the incompetent people who run the Fraser Health Authority and VIHA.
The CEO's(criminally enhanced operators)and management are filling their pockets with money that should be going to the people that need it. I believe they all get over 1/2 a million dollars and expenses. The list of corrupt sleazy people is endless.

BC Mary said...

To Anon at 4:12,

I'd just like to say: you are definitely not helpless.

If you do one thing every day, and keep doing it every day to the best of your ability, the Campbell Gang will be gone.

I can't prove it for you here and now, but I'd bet on it. There are just too many good, decent citizens in this province to let the rats control this ship much longer.

Henri Paul said...

Anonymous said...4:12 PM
What do we do when our leaders break our laws act immorally and call it cake?
You vote them back in , just like you people did in the last election
Now sit back and suck it up until the next election, at which time you will reelect them in again, as theres no longer an opposition here in BC.

Anonymous said...

good one henri i forgot all about that,the opposition, man that say's a lot hey !they're like window dressing.

Cariboo Carl said...

When you're right, I have to agree with you Bill. It's just plain wrong for someone to be able to go from being in a neutral position to a job with so much power.

I don't blame Loukidelis for taking the job, (I'm assuming it pays better) but it shouldn't be allowed to happen. When will the government start working for us instead of themselves? If we hire them (election) and we pay them (taxes) then shouldn't we make the rules regarding how they are to proceed with their job?

4 years is too long to wait to fire a sub-standard employee. There should be an independent committee that can take action immediately and if necessary that group can be overseen by another, better than all the power residing with a small group or one person.

It's a pipe dream but I think it's the only way government can work for us instead of against us. If you knew someone was watching you and had the ability to terminate your employment, wouldn't you be more careful with your actions?

MonkeyMan said...

What exactly does a Deputy Minister do and why, if it's to be an extension of the Minister, is this not an elected position? Just wondering because it seems to me, kind of like the President/Vice President combo in the US.

North Van's Grumps said...

Let's try looking on the brighter side of the FOI scandal. Thus far its been David Loukidelis extracting the information like he's dealing with a farmer that's only in the business of selling hens teeth.

With Loukidelis now in charge of the "farm" perhaps FOI requests will be more speedily handled by the new AG because he knows what its like to be on the other side of the fence.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if, David L, had a choice. He would know, a Deputy Attorney can be fired for, absolutely any excuse, Campbell can dream up. Why would, David L take that chance. I, think, this is just another one of, Campbell's dirty tactics. The moods are getting ugly out there. I hope, nothing will happen at the Olympics. There will be a vast number of young people there, to do their best, for their country's. It would be a black mark on BC and Canada, if, any harm, should come to these young athletes. Even though Campbell did the wrong thing, asking, David L. to take on the Deputy Attorney's position, matters not, Campbell is a convicted criminal, and no one seems to be able, to get rid of him. A criminal hosting the Olympic Games, makes people cringe.

citizen queen said...

One has to wonder why so many 'honorable' people change teams. I have two guesses, first, they are told this is a 'matter of national security'- help us, by covering up, what would be a back lash'. Second, they have been caught with their pants down, (most likely set up). So to avoid their own scandal, they become fearful and cooperative.

Anonymous said...

Campbell will use every dirty trick in the book, not to be exposed. Why he would resort to be so devious, makes not, a lick of sense. BC, people already know Campbell for what he is. And, it's all bad. I, feel, loukidelis days are numbered, especially, when the report he had, to give on Campbell and His Liberal Government, was not flattering. Campbell, must have been jolted enough, to, squash the FOI. This, is what Hitler had to do, to keep his true image from the German people.

William said...

it's better than most of you who don't have a job and SUCK all the resources. Good for him.