Earlier today, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced a private member’s bill called the Transparency Act, a bill aimed at making the government “open by default”. The fun bits of the bill include pulling Canada’s Access to Transparency Act out of “the 1980’s” and to making what happens within the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE), our government’s most shadowy council (that we know about), fully disrobed to the public. If the bill is eventually passed, requests for government documents will be a whole lot cheaper ($5 or less, from hundreds of thousands of loons) and the Privacy Commissioner will have the power to force the government to disclose information (somewhere, Ann Cavoukian is loving life).
This proposal could end up being a major sting for Prime Minister Harper, a man who makes brick walls look see-through, and has already garnered high-fives from NDP leader Thomas Mulclair (kind of). Mulcair’s initial reaction was “we haven’t seen a bill yet, from Mr. Trudeau, we saw a press release,” but after the bill’s release he was overjoyed, saying that it was identical to an NDP motion put forward last year, and that the Liberals voted against.
While Mulclair suggested that the NDP and the Liberals should play hooky on the day’s BOIE meeting as a statement against secrecy, the leaders’ day-off didn’t materialize. In the House of Commons today, Mulclair made a motion to open up the BOIE to the eyes of the public, only to have it swiftly rejected by the harmonious voices of the Conservative MPs.
If that reaction is representative of the Tories’ position, Trudeau won’t have an easy time wooing the government out of its shell. It looks like they’re gonna keep the covers on for the time being.