A modest proposal for the District of Lillooet

by Dermod Travis,

Damn the torpedoes may work in times of war, but it’s not really a useful tactic at City Hall. And if it hasn’t yet dawned on some of the powers that be in Lillooet, it ain’t working.
As IntegrityBC anticipated before we released the results of our recent robopoll, there would be some who would try their level best to discredit a bona fide “unscientific” poll by any means necessary.
There were a few who even put centuries of statistical analysis on its head trying to do so. To accomplish what we’re not quite sure, but the official reaction of the District of Lillooet was intriguing albeit a little bizarre analytically.
Questions were hurled at us.
It’s rare that a self-professed “unscientific” robopoll is deserving of such herculean efforts.
But imagine the shock when some of those sceptics learned that the answers to most of their accusations, err questions, were already posted on IntegrityBC’s website.
It’s as though we had done something so completely unorthodox that we may have actually pioneered the concept: disclosure.
And maybe for some in Lillooet we had.
The distrust in Lillooet is palpable. Sorry to point out the obvious. But maybe that’s a byproduct of withholding information. If everything is a secret then who can believe anything?
So a modest proposal for the District: host an Open House. Throw open the doors and throw open the drawers.
Is there anything really so damning in all those Access to Information requests that keep getting rejected by the District that warrants the ill-feeling and bad press that comes from withholding the information in the first place?
In fact, the possible short-term pain from honouring those Access requests is likely far less than the long-term anguish that could come from not doing so.
Access to Information laws were not introduced because people trusted government, but rather because people are naturally sceptical of government, and often with good reason.
Here’s a chance to prove that scepticism ill-founded: if you don’t have anything to hide, don’t hide it.
And when more-and-more district and city councils across B.C. are finding new ways to get closer to the citizens that they serve, it seems almost medieval to be leaping back to the past by slamming the doors shut and locking the drawers.
Good governance is about winning both the hearts and the minds of citizens. And while some have won the hearts and some the minds, few seem to have won both in Lillooet.

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca