Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday July 12, 2001
Goofy gag proposal doesn’t serve public
If Hamilton city council has an ounce of common sense, a staff proposal that could see councillors and staff jailed, fired or fined for leaking information to the media will be in the trash by the time you read this.
This proposed bylaw, which was to be debated by committee of the whole yesterday, is so heavy-handed it’s laughable. It’s a caricature of good public policy.
In a time when even those not much interested in the affairs of government agree Canadians should have much more access to information than they do at present, bureaucrats at city hall want you to have less.
Proponents of the bylaw argue it’s needed to serve the interests of taxpayers. The argument goes something like this: When confidential business becomes public prematurely, the city’s negotiating position is weakened, and taxpayers could be stuck with a higher bill as a result. Thus, they argue, the public interest is not well served.
No amount of draconian legislation will stop leaks, especially not at Hamilton city hall. Leaks are a symptom, not the problem. The problem is the lack of a constructive relationship between city staff and elected officials. Fix that problem, and leaks will cease to be the headache they are.
Do we have a vested interest in better access to information concerning how this city is operated and governed? Yes. And so do you. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)