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NEWS RELEASE · 3rd May 2012
The B.C. Government is desperately piling up legislation and rushing the process as the spring session nears its end, say the New Democrats.

Citing a letter released Thursday from B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, New Democrat house leader John Horgan raised the alarm saying the Liberal government’s attempts to ram through legislation are harmful to the public interest.

“It’s hard to imagine why the Liberals felt the need to table eight pieces of legislation this week, with just 12 sitting days left until MLAs return to their constituencies for the summer,” said Horgan. “Some of the legislation coming before the house is extremely contentious and clearly not well thought out. The Liberals can’t keep up with their own legislation, and haven’t allowed time for proper consultation.”

Denham’s letter to Agriculture Minister Don McRae was about Bill 37 – Animal Health Act. She raised serious concerns about the bill, saying it “would override the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and remove the public’s right to access various records regarding animal testing, including actions and reports relating to animal disease management.”

“For a government that claims to put openness and accountability at the forefront, it is outrageous that they would unnecessarily embed language that is specifically designed to override FIPPA,” said New Democrat agriculture critic Lana Popham. “I’d be the first person to come forward and defend the rights of farmers, but this legislation gives the government sweeping powers to shirk the public interest, and that’s way over the line.”

Popham raised concerns about the fact that the bill was rushed to debate too quickly when she spoke in the Legislature on May 1, just one day after Bill 37 was tabled.

Horgan pointed out that the spring legislative session has seen 28 bills tabled to date, including eight this week. Sweeping changes to a number of other laws are hidden in one bill, which will also re-impose a gag law for pre-election periods.

“The Liberals are showing once again they have a total disrespect for the legislative process,” said Horgan.