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Democracy Revised |  Montreal Magazine

Democracy Revised | Montreal Magazine

Without a good public education system and transparent access to information from our leaders, democracy is meaningless. The more a person exercises his citizenship, the more he holds decision-makers fully responsible for what they do…or do not do.

• Read also: National Assembly Speaker Nathalie Roy wants to keep her bills secret

However, in Quebec, the public school network has been overshadowed by heavily subsidized private schools for decades.

As for the law that is supposed to govern access to information, especially regarding the use of public funds by governments, multi-state corporations and affiliated organizations, it is clearly a toothless tiger.

He also confirmed the documented file that was published in recent days before Newspaper, We are outnumbered by journalists who seek to find out where taxpayer money goes, often confronting technocratic and political structures that are unjustifiably opaque.

Obtaining complete information is a real hurdle that can take years of waiting for a single document…

The patience and perseverance of the Bureau of Investigation in the ridiculous case of the Office of Public Counsel of Montreal (OCPM) is the latest example in an endless series, all media combined.

When we want to prevent citizens from knowing what we're doing with their money, the most popular method is nonetheless a ridiculous red tape fest. However, accountability in a democracy is one of its most fundamental principles.

Denial of accountability

However, transparently informing the community about how elected officials, bureaucrats and senior managers spend citizens' money is a no-brainer.

The reality is that redacted or incompletely accessible public documents constitute a denial of accountability. Because, usually, who says public money should mean public accountability.

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The words “confidential,” “hidden,” and “redacted” are exactly the opposite. They deny the democratic obligation of decision-makers to grant the media and citizens full access to any information of a “public” nature.

An example of this is: Nathalie Roy, President of the National Assembly – the heart of Quebec's democracy – who refuses to disclose to the Bureau of Investigation her detailed accounts of expenses incurred in the performance of her duties.

Secrecy is never good

According to the head of the National Assembly’s Access to Information Department, Dr.I Roy could have “determined that it was not appropriate to provide access to documents relating to her.” truly?

MI Roy, in addition to being a former journalist, is known by her peers as a highly competent boss. So why not simply take inspiration from his predecessor, François Paradis?

Mr. Paradis, when he succeeded to the prodigal Jacques Chagnon's presidency, showed himself not only to be frugal, but also to be exemplary of transparency in disclosing his expense accounts.

In other words, when it comes time to tell citizens how to spend their money, secrecy is never the right choice. In fact, secrecy is toxic.

By depriving citizens of their right to know in detail what is happening with their public wealth, secrecy undermines the trust of already damaged populations in their institutions.

In doing so, it weakens the practice of democracy itself.