| Why Open Government?
Governments are vast storehouses of information that our tax dollars pay to have collected, created, stored and shared. This information is a vital part of:
- our public property;
- our history; and
- our intellectual heritage.
This public wealth of information must be freely shared so that citizens are informed on public matters, able to engage in public debate, and able to assess the performance of their government.
The alternative – a populace that is ill-informed, or even worse, misinformed about its government poses great danger to our democracy. They will be unable to participate effectively as citizens, unable to hold their government to account, and will stop trusting elected officials.
BC's Freedom of Information Act, passed in 1992, was designed to make BC's government more open and accountable. Then-Attorney General Colin Gabelman proclaimed, “We want to create a ‘culture of openness' within government so that information is routinely released.”
The current Liberal administration also trumpeted its commitment to open government and freedom of information, stating, “All citizens must have timely, effective and affordable access to the documents which governments make and keep,” and “there are few issues of more importance than the public's right to know.”
However, according to FOI advocates and requesters, the citizens' right of access to information has suffered badly under both NDP and Liberal administrations. Amendments to the FOI act and ill-considered court decisions have reduced the act's effectiveness. Critics of the government's performance complain that an entrenched “culture of denial” has evolved toward access requests. Studies claim that FOI response times have increased, fee estimates have skyrocketed, and other barriers to access have proliferated.
In light of these challenges to freedom of information in BC, the second BC Information Summit will explore:
- What is the nature of the growing challenges to openness?
- What are the workable solutions to the problems of access to information?
- How can we strengthen the public's right to know in an adversarial world?
The second BC Information Summit will take a fresh look at the challenges and solutions of creating an open government and a free flow of information to the public.
THE BC INFORMATION SUMMIT
October 5, 2007
8:45am to 5pm
The Theatre at UBC Robson Square Campus
Early Bird Rates are available until
September 21, 2007.
All rates include
a buffet lunch.
$75 (early bird) $90 (regular)
$55 (early bird) $65 (regular)
$25 (early bird) $30 (regular)