MPs are back at work and, under the Harper regime, that means that they are once again spending a considerable portion of their “public” time actually meeting behind closed doors, away from the sinister prying eyes of the public and of journalists. The CBC’s venerable Kady drew attention to this last week in the context of a moderately evil decision by Conservatives on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee to close the curtain of secrecy on discussion of a motion to limit omnibus bills. You will recall that the position of the present Prime Minister is that omnibus bills are “a contradiction to the conventions and practices” of Canadian democracy. Unless, of course, he’s the one introducing them, as he did this spring, in which case they are a vital and necessary step in fulfilling the mandate of Canada’s strong majority government.
Anyhow, the committees started up again this September, and, using the minutes on the official committee website, it is possible to see that they spent a total of 34 hours in meetings that month. (The number is very low because only a few planning meetings have been held so far; committees will be much busier over the next couple months.) Out of that total, they spent 55% of their time meeting in secret, or about 19 hours.
This proportion is disturbingly high, but it’s in keeping with the practice of the Harper regime as a majority. Last September, committees spent 54% of their time meeting in secret. I’ll have an update comparing this with previous governments in a few days.
The Sixth Estate Open Government Project exists to track various measures of government secrecy.Tweet