Editorial: Voices of the people

Are the people being heard?

It’s hard to tell, with any level of government, whether they are acting in the people’s best interests when information is kept secret from the public.

The current NAFTA talks are a good example. There is no doubt the result of the negotiations will affect everyone in Canada to some degree. Yet there has only been limited opportunities for civil society organizations to participate in the negotiation process.

OpenMedia and 10 other organizations are calling on the feds to at least release the more than 46,000 submissions received as part of the NAFTA public consultation.

At the core of their request is a question that can only be answered through governments being truly open and transparent. Is the government listening and using those consultation results to shape what Canadians want from NAFTA, or are they ignoring it? Is public consultation and engagement just a feel-good publicity ploy?

It’s a lesson Penticton city council should have learned from the disaster of the Skaha Lake Park, where secrecy led to the water slide development being foisted on the community with little time for consultation. Even then, public outcry was ignored, and the deal pushed through at the cost of two years of division and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars before the city was forced to cancel it.

But we have to wonder if their greater use of community engagement is really changing anything in the decision-making process, or is it just to make the community feel good?

It’s too easy to take the results of any engagement and present them in a way that supports the position you want. For example, insisting on a commercial use in parks policy that goes against public sentiment by leaving open the possibility of large commercial projects.

Officials often say they won’t discuss something because they are not going to conduct negotiations in the media, or in the public. But for so many things, we have to ask why not?

Does the public not have a right to know, and influence, what choices governments are making for them?

Just Posted

Power of plants comes to Penticton – Okanagan Health Forum

The power of plants will be the focus of Sunday’s Okanagan Health Forum at the Shatford Centre

Competition hot for mayor’s chair

Penticton voters have lots of choice in municipal election

Penticton Vees celebrating those who help others

The Vees are honouring charitable organizations during the regular season to the tune of $28,000

Summerland Steam focus on their game

The Steam have lost their two home games this season, but have won their two road games

Cram the RCMP cruiser for the Penticton food bank

RCMP cruisers will be at the Real Canadian Superstore parking lot

Store recognized for inclusive employment efforts

Shoppers Drug Mart in Summerland presented with certificate from WorkBC

Who’s running in Penticton’s election?

Candidates for the Penticton municipal and school board election

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Scheer pushes Trudeau to re-start Energy East pipeline talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the Prime Minister over Trans Mountain project

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to B.C. homeless man

‘Jay’ found little black-and-white kitten in a carrier next to a dumpster by a Chilliwack pet store

Police chief defends controversial marijuana seizure

Advocates said cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Trans Mountain completes Burrard Inlet spill exercise

Training required, some work continues on pipeline expansion

Most Read