Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/10/2013 (1360 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Do you feel it is getting harder all the time to get straight answers about big issues? If so, you are not alone.
Yes, “transparency” is on everyone’s lips, but it seems to be about the last thing that bureaucrats and politicians are interested in providing.
A recent exchange in the Brandon Sun may illustrate the problem. On Sept. 12, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote a letter to the editor about their difficulties in obtaining information from Manitoba Hydro.
In this instance, they were aware that Hydro has paid $224 million to Indian bands up north for “negotiation” costs and CTF would like to see some receipts and other details. Hydro earlier provided a flat no, saying it’s all confidential.
The next day another letter appears in Brandon Sun … in response to the CTF letter. This one is from no less than the president and CEO of Hydro. The CEO answers by providing some broad categories of where the $224 million was supposedly spent, including holding meetings, conducting studies, training, legal advice, etc.
Just think of the coffee and doughnuts you could buy for those gatherings with almost a quarter billion dollars!
The problem with Hydro’s answer is that Hydro ratepayers and Manitoba taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for this staggering sum and therefore, we do deserve some details ... all the details we want.
However, the CEO’s answer is of almost zero relevance to a taxpayer, a Hydro ratepayer or an independent auditor. Welcome to the brave new world of “transparency,” where pretending to provide information while delivering almost nothing is de rigueur.
It needs to stop. Otherwise the downward spiral will continue and democratic processes will continue to erode.