Friday, May 18, 2007

McGuinty Goes Hollywood

Yesterday, through Freedom of Information, the Hamilton Spectator reported on the extravagant and misleading use of government planes by Premier McGuinty and members of his government. Not surprising this dominated question period at Queen's Park. While this is problematic on many fronts (the frivolity and extravagance of the flights, environmental concerns given the Liberal Party's newfound passion for the environment, transparency to taxpayers...), at issue during question period was not necessarily the legitimacy of using the planes but one of disclosure and accountability.

It only seems reasonable and feasible that the logs from the premier's and cabinet ministers' flights be made openly public and not accessible only through the Freedom of Information Act. McGuinty kept insinuating that the information was available, but forcing the public to access it through the Freedom of Information Act is not in the best interest of government accountability. It was pretty clear the government did not want this information divulged.

But public tax treasury is being used and tax payers have a right to know how their money is being spent. Furthermore, if the government (now and in the future) knew that these logs would be open to public scrutiny, it might use the planes more prudently and not, for example, spend $10 000 flying to Hamilton when it likely would have been more expeditious to drive there. I think the opposition was making a very reasonable request, which not surprisingly was met once again with evasion ad stonewalling.

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