As I have said before a government cannot be called democratic if it is neither open nor accountable. Part of the openness required to fulfill that requirement is to allow officers of parliament, government commissions, the diplomatic service and the various government department and agencies to fulfill their various mandates without undue interference and censure. They ALL work for US, the Canadian Citizen, and should in a democracy be able to report to us publicly except in the case of cabinet confidentially and matters of national security. Those exceptions cannot be abused in a free and democratic parliamentary democracy.
If an agency’s mandate is to ensure that our nuclear reactors are safe, provide scientific information on weather or climate change, provide analysis on foreign affair or provide data necessary for assessing social and community needs, then it needs to do that free of government shackles.
We have seen over the last few years an ever increasing amount of “control” put upon the institutions by government, both directly by ministerial order and subtlety by budget restrictions, firings and program cancellations. This government seems to have a real problem with data that does not suit its pre-decided agenda and when an agency head insists upon doing their job and providing information they don’t want to hear they can expect to be fired shortly, especially if they should be so bold as to bring that information into the public eye. Some time ago these various agencies were told that they could not speak to their employers (that’s us, not the Harper regimes) without permission from the PMO, that any press release or other major findings must be “cleared” (read spun and manipulated) by said Office of Misinformation.
Now in the latest salvo we see that if non of those things work to stop the flow of accurate information then we simply order that the collection of said information shall cease and desist forthwith. The resignation of the head of Stats Can is not an isolated incident, there have been several such resignations, some firings, some commission disbandment, some chairs replace with less independent voices, expect more. At this point just about the only one that speaks out and provides independent information to our MPs and to the public is our Parliamentary Budget Officer, it seem severe budget restrictions and attempts to place him under tight control from above have failed thus far, you may be sure however that the efforts to silence him by the Harper regime will continue. We cant have the FACTS getting in the way of creating that country we wont recognize can we!
Bottom line – accurate publicly available data is essential for a democracy to function, be it government expenditures, the state of our communities or information on new legislation, without it we are simply a autocracy labeled as a democracy.