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BC NDP continues with more unacceptable government secrecy

BC NDP black out at least 98% of the pages for a Freedom of Information request for B.C. pandemic polling data.

Through out the pandemic the BC NDP government commissioned public opinion polls to gauge thoughts of British Columbians pandemic measures.

A journalist for CTV News reached out to the Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE) and asked for “all opinion polling and research conducted by the province on COVID-19, and/or the pandemic and/or public health measures” from Sept. 2, 2021 to May 2, 2022. The agency told the journalist to file a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Freedom of Information request was filed and when it was filled, 423 of the 428 pages from that request were withheld, according to CTV News

Premier John Horgan is really showing the public what he means by his “most transparent” government claim.

“People need to understand that it’s not just about politics,” Horgan said in 2015. “We’re supposed to have freedom of information so the public understands why their government was making decisions on their behalf.”

John Horgan use to argue “he was ever in charge he’d never do the “outrageous” things the BC Liberals did to hide government information from the public, through “pathetic” barriers, fees, delays, mass record deletion and obfuscation” reported Daily Hive

Jason Woywada, executive director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association told CTV News the government purposely redacts the details to “force a complaint (to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner).”

“In a 24-hour news cycle, it allowed them to be propagandists and control the narrative.”

In 2021 British Columbia Premier John Horgan, Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare, and the provincial government of B.C. won the Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the provincial category. 

He added that while government can redact or withhold advice to cabinet, the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act specifically states that “the head of a public body must not refuse to disclose under subsection (1) (b) a public opinion poll, (c) a statistical survey.”

Woywada questioned if maybe the BC NDP planned to get around FOI legislation by commissioning polls through the party or the caucus instead of using taxpayer funds.

When CTV News asked the official Opposition to weigh in on the latest chapter in government secrecy, the BC Liberals revealed they’d filed two FOI requests for pandemic polling done before the controversial snap election in the fall of 2020.

“The public has a right to know if polling truly informed or helped shaped public policy decisions ultimately arrived at in relation to the pandemic,” said official Opposition house leader Todd Stone.

“What that un-redacted material showed is pretty damning – that the government, contrary to what it said it was doing and making decisions strictly based on science, was actually making decisions based on political science as much as science.”

When asked why he thought the Liberals received the precise kind of opinion polling that was withheld from CTV News, Stone was baffled.

“How is that in the best interest of the public, in not providing that information?” he asked.

BC Rise has been calling attention to the BC NDP secrecy on multiple occasions

BC NDP Henry Yao, Richmond South Centre insisted his hope is to combat “misinformation” and he claimed his fear is giving the public access to the information it may cause “people to exponentially create conspiracy theory”.

NDP Yao then floated the idea of a “certified journalist body” the public documents would filter threw, he didn’t give any examples of what would qualify a so-called “certified journalist”. This would cut BC Rise out of holding the government accountable, that’s right keeping you in the dark and only allowing government approved “qualified” journalists to have access to public documents that even you as a citizen have a right to access.

BC Rise also reported in March 2022 about the secrecy around Covid-19 data being withheld from the public. Bonnie Henry kept incidental covid-19 cases and deaths top secret all the way up until January 2022 when she finally admitted the case counts and deaths are inflated with dirty data.

The admission only came after public outrage comparing the data other provinces were making available to their citizens so they can make informed decisions.

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