Local MP Russ Hiebert (South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale) couldn’t have been clearer when, in 2005, he said: “Transparency in government helps ensure that improper practices such as the money laundering of the sponsorship scandal are exposed. Even better, transparency in government discourages criminal or unethical activity from happening in the first place.”
Soon, he will have a chance to show how he is putting that sentiment into practice as your representative when he votes on the Transparency Act.
This bill was introduced by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to raise the bar on openness and accountability by making government information open by default. It is a good-faith effort to work across the aisle and achieve results for Canadians.
The Transparency Act would modernize our Access to Information system, which is stuck in the 1980s. It would make all government data public by default and available in modern formats. It would empower an independent office to order that information to be disclosed. It would eliminate extra fees for information requests.
The act would also make the meetings of the governing board of the House of Commons open by default, allowing Canadians to see how MPs make decisions on their own spending.
These changes would go a long way to addressing criticisms by the press, researchers, independent experts and others, and ensure that citizens have a real right to know what their government does.
Mr. Trudeau has been clear that he wants to work with all MPs, and is open to amendments, suggestions and improvements. He believes that together we can help restore a sense of trust in our democracy.
Private member’s bills like this are normally “free votes,” which allow MPs to vote with their conscience instead of their party. We sincerely hope that Mr. Hiebert will vote in favour of the Transparency Act.
MP Scott Simms, Liberal Party of Canada Democratic Reform Critic