Roundup: Candour versus transparency

The government announced yesterday that their proposed changes to the Access to Information Act won’t be coming as quickly as promised because they “wanted to get it right.” Now far be it for me to be completely cynical about this in asserting that they never intended to fulfil this promise, because I’m not entirely sure that’s the case, but I will also say that any Conservative crowing about how terrible the Liberals are for this delay *cough*Pierre Lemieux*cough* needs to give their head a shake because the Liberal have already made changes that far exceed what the Conservative did on this file. This all having been said, Howard Anglin makes some interesting points about this, and whether it’s desirable for them to go ahead with some of these changes.

As much as my journalistic sensibilities want greater transparency, I also do feel a great deal of sympathy for the point about candour. Having too many things in the open has had an effect on the operation of parliament and times where parties could quietly meet and come to a decision with little fuss has turned into a great deal of political theatre instead (which is one reason why I’m wary of opening up the Board of Internal Economy too much). We want functional institutions, and that does require candour, and not all desires to keep that candour and ability to speak openly from being public is more than just a “culture of secrecy” – there is a deal of self-preservation involved. While it would be nice if we could wave a magic wand and the line by which this tension is resolved would be clearly demarcated lines, but that’s not going to happen. This is going to be muddled through the hard way.

Meanwhile, Susan Delacourt writes about that culture of secrecy that exists within the capital – an even within Cabinet jealously guarding information – and how it’s an ongoing fight to keep from letting that culture keep going unchallenged.

Good reads:

  • The Conservatives and NDP have declared procedural warfare in the Procedure and House Affairs committee over the government’s proposed standing order changes, which kept going late into the night.
  • The Senate Ethics Committee starts its consideration of Senator Don Meredith’s fate today.
  • Sound the cheap outrage alarm! We have a price tag for the PM’s Christmas vacation, and it’s *yawn.* Seriously, this is unnecessary. Let’s grow up.
  • Changes to prison diets are causing all kinds of problems, right up to riots.
  • The government has apparently rejected most of the applications for Canada 150 funds.
  • A Privy Council employee stole two cars on the Hill and tried to gain entry into Centre Block (and was denied) before being taken into custody.
  • The Trumpocalypse could be a boon for Canada in attracting global talent.
  • Here’s a good look from the legal community as to why we don’t need mandatory sexual assault training for judges.
  • The Canadian Forces are working out their challenges in advance of the NATO deployment to Latvia.
  • Conservative leadership contenders are concerned that those involved in membership fraud will be left unpunished.
  • Maxime Bernier, meanwhile, won’t forward his own allegations about Kevin O’Leary’s team to the party to investigate.
  • Andrew MacDougall weighs in on the mud-slinging in the Conservative leadership race.
  • My column this week urges patience around the eventual expulsion of Senator Don Meredith.

Odds and ends:

Ralph Goodale says he plans to table a bill to revamp the former Bill C-51 later this spring.

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