A Government Open-By-Default and Accountable To You

I have heard from many people during this election that the lack of public involvement in government decision-making and the secrecy that surrounds the legislative assembly is a serious issue for the Northerners. Whether this criticism is from the media, elected officials, or voters, the message could not be clearer: the people of the Northwest Territories want to know how decisions are being made and how their taxes are being spent.

If elected I will open the doors of our government and make protecting the public’s right to information a priority for the next legislative assembly. Devolution has given the NWT more powers and responsibilities. Now is the time to realize our potential as leaders in government transparency and ensure that Northerners have the opportunity for greater involvement in our political system. My plan will bring transparency to the legislature and set a new standard for government accountability.

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I want to be accountable to the voters of Kam Lake. That is why I have run my campaign on a costed platform that gives Kam Lakers a clear picture of the priorities and funding I will fight for and, if elected, a clear mandate for what I have promised to deliver. I will publicly disclose who I will support for cabinet and premier and I will base that decision on those seeking cabinet positions who will support my platform. I will also proactively disclose all my taxpayer-funded expenses online, in a timely and detailed manner.

Here’s an example of proactive disclosure from a federal MP: http://www.liberal.ca/proactive_disclosure/?parliamentarian=frank-valeriote.

I can guarantee that, if elected, I can keep all these promises that will disclosure information relating to my role as MLA. But I want to do more than that. I want to bring a new standard of government transparency and accountability to our government.

My plan will make all committee hearings public by default, including the territorial leadership committee that selects Premier and Cabinet. I will strengthen the review powers of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to ensure proper oversight and timely publication of MLA expenses. I will introduce a motion that will have all MLAs expenses proactively disclosed to members of the public and I will propose new legislation that protects whistleblowers in the public service.

I will also act to implement legislative changes to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (ATIPP) Act that will improve procedures of making access requests, set strict and enforceable timelines, establish minimum standards for proactive disclosure, strengthen oversight through the Information and Privacy Commissioner and add consequences for non-compliance. Furthermore, I support the recommendation of the Commissioner to implement legislative requirements for notifying affected individuals when their personal information has been lost, stolen or improperly accessed, used or disclosed.

We live in a digital age where there is an unprecedented amount of information available to everyday citizens and yet our government has not made a serious effort to protect the public’s access to information. Our government is largest single employer in the Northwest Territories. The decisions it makes have immediate and lasting consequences for our communities. Given these circumstances there is no reason why we should not be expecting a higher standard of transparency.

My plan is designed to make government open-by-default and eliminate any and all roadblocks to keeping the public informed about how their government works, while keeping their personal information secure.