Okay, Stop: Right to Know Week Edition

During last night’s regular monthly meeting of the Cape Breton Regional Council, District 5 Councilor Eldon MacDonald moved that the week of September 23 to 29 be declared “Right to Know” Week in the CBRM.

I laughed.

I cried.

And I thought of all the things I would like to say in response to MacDonald’s motion. Then I remembered I publish my own newspaper and am free to respond to MacDonald’s motion.

So roll tape:


Whereas: The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has adopted the principles of openness, transparency and accountability; and

Whereas: Part XX of the Municipal Government Act gives citizens a right of access to information in the custody or under the control of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality;

Okay, stop.

If openness, transparency and accountability were kittens the CBRM had adopted from the SPCA, I’d call the animal welfare people and have them removed from its custody.

Also, telling me I must pay $478 for information I have a “right” to “access” is like telling me I have no right to access that information.

Whereas: Access to information ensures citizens of Nova Scotia have the opportunity for meaningful participation in the democratic process; 

Okay, stop.

Yes, it does. So when you limit citizens’ access to information — even when you do so for budgetary reasons — you are limiting their opportunity for meaningful participation in the democratic process and cynics will say you are doing it on purpose.

and Whereas: A celebration of the right of citizens to access information will facilitate informed public participation in policy formulation, ensure fairness in government decision-making and permit the airing and reconciliation of divergent views:

Okay, stop.

What kind of celebration do you have in mind? I’m thinking of taking all my canceled access-to-information-fee checks and all my “we must ask for a 60-day extension to respond to your request” letters and printouts from all my emails from the Privacy Commissioner’s office asking if I’m sure I still want to proceed with this review I requested 18 months ago and turning them into confetti and tossing them into the harbor.

and Whereas: Cape Breton Regional Municipality joins all other Canadian jurisdictions and democracies world-wide in acknowledging international Right to Know Week;

Okay, stop.

A minute ago we were celebrating, now we’re “acknowledging” Right to Know Week? That’s more in keeping with the CBRM’s attitude toward access to information, I guess — you can “acknowledge” Right to Know Week without feeling the need to actually do anything about it.

Be It Therefore Resolved: That Mayor Cecil P. Clarke and Council of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, proclaim September 23 to September 29, 2019 to be Right to Know Week in the CBRM.

Okay, stop.

This would be the same Mayor Cecil P. Clarke who has repeatedly refused to share information about projects like the port citing “confidentiality agreements?” The same mayor who once went to China without telling anyone he was going?

I don’t know about you, but I will find it very hard to take this declaration seriously coming from Mayor Clarke.

I think I’d rather celebrate Right to Know week with the Privacy Commissioner.