It took BC Hydro Corp. just over seven months to award power contracts to two controversial coal-fired power plants - which some environmentalists estimate could push British Columbia's greenhouse gas emissions up by roughly 2.5 percent. But the Sierra Legal Defense Fund has waited more than five months for the government to respond to a request for any records it has about that announcement (such as the environmental and public health impacts those plants will have on the province). And, guess what? The defense fund is still waiting - with the documents expected to arrive sometime in early February. This, despite the fact, British Columbia's freedom of information legislation gives the ministry of environment 30 working days to respond to such a request - plus a few extensions.
Of course, such delays won't come as a surprise to the staff lawyer who filed that request. In 2005, Sean Nixon signed his name to a University of Victoria environmental law centre letter asking information and privacy commissioner David Loukidelis to investigate "an apparent system-wide pattern" whereby government has made it "more and more difficult" for organizations like the fund to obtain public records. The request hasn't yet been acted on. But Mr. Nixon says this most recent delay, "is further evidence suggesting that there's a systemic problem in government with their approach to access information. It suggests they are intentionally frustrating environmental groups efforts to get information that might leave egg on the government's face."