MLA Linda Larson is completely off target when she says that Doreen Olson is the one person who is making a fuss about Larson’s national park focus group (Western News, Dec 4, Focus group criticisms unfounded).
I too find it extremely troubling Larson refuses to name the people serving on “her” committee to summarize the responses to the Provincial Government’s Intentions Paper on the Protected Areas being considered for a national park. Her rationale for keeping their names secret does not make sense to me.
On the one hand she says that all they are going to do is “summarize the responses and will not be making recommendations” and on the other hand she says she doesn’t want them being harassed. If the committee is not making recommendations, why would they be harassed?
I have been a member of the RDOS Area D Advisory Planning Commission for more than five years and even though many of our recommendations have been controversial (the APC deals with applications for changes to zoning and such things) I am not aware of a single instance of an APC member being harassed. All RDOS committee members are publicly named as are members of municipal citizen advisory committees. Recently Premier Christy Clark made comments about ending secrecy in government and wanting her government to be more open and transparent in their work. This would be a good time for Larson to start practicing what her boss preaches.
Larson goes on to say that various viewpoints are represented on the committee but she doesn’t explain how the committee is going to work. Is each member going to summarize each response or will they divide the responses up so that a rancher for instance, summarizes one-fifth of the responses and a businessman summarizes another one-fifth, etc. Generally when governments want to keep something secret it is because there is something to hide.
Larson has gone on record many, many times as opposing a national park in the South Okanagan-Similkameen even though opinion polls show overwhelming support for the concept within her riding. Do I trust her with this committee? Not on your life. Larson’s focus group suggests she doesn’t trust her own government to properly interpret public input, or why else would she need to have public input vetted by a secret committee rather than Ministry staff?
This whole thing gives the appearance of something fishy going on. It may be perfectly fine, but it doesn’t smell that way.
Robert C Handfield