EDITORIAL: For whom the bridge tolls

When it comes to transparency and B.C. Premier Christy Clark, public patience is running out.

Sometimes one can’t help sounding like a stuck record.

When politicians keep making the same mistakes, pushing the same egregious agenda – or when, as is happening currently with Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals, the same chickens keep coming home to roost – the only reasonable response seems to be a prolonged expression of dismay.

There must be something about the premier and bridges.

Earlier this year, Clark got into hot water when she tried to close Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge to traffic for a day-long yoga event, and then tweeted that those resistant to the idea were ‘yoga haters’. People who have sent in Freedom of Information requests for documentation related to the decision to close the bridge have reportedly come up empty, of course.

In case you hadn’t heard, it’s been the habit of government staffers to ‘triple delete’ email communications – that is, to delete them from mail, from the trash file, then from backup servers.

Emails have also disappeared – among many others – that relate to the investigation of missing and murdered indigenous women, health ministry firings or equally controversial legislation to change the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Now another bridge is haunting Clark.

Independent MLA Vicki Huntington has been told that sparse documentation exists – no business plan prepared for the premier – pertaining to Clark’s decision to scrap the Massey tunnel and replace it with a bridge over the Fraser River. Background material and technical data to help transportation ministry staff decide on five possible configurations for such a bridge also cannot be located.

As Huntington notes, a $3-billion project should have some kind of paper trail behind it.

Just not, apparently, in our premier’s universe.

Another FOI request failed to turn up even her own announcement of the bridge in September 2013.

Such a palpably ridiculous situation makes  nonsense of partisan attempts to deflect criticism from the BC Liberals. There’s a huge gulf between claiming one can’t pick over every document pertaining to sensitive government decisions, and a government being forced to admit it can’t even find the shoebox where it keeps its memoranda on a project slated to spend billions of taxpayer money.

With Clark, this particular bridge toll should be the tolling of a bell – a warning note that time and public patience is running out.

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