Well the first Town Hall meeting (at Cawmere, oops Combermere), came off on October 15th as scheduled on the Freedom of Information Bill.
It started with 10 members in the audience and another 10, incluidng some party followers, tured up later.
Four people spoke : Besley Maycock, a retired envoy, Carl Moore, a former Nation newspaper editor, Ian Bourne (former CBC anchor) and this blogger.
Well what we have is legislation taken straight from North America, where information means records/documents and really, not information.
Let me explain. Information for me is not only found in some report or document, but in the crania of civil servants. I suspect there is far more there of relevance than in documents.
So rather than access to information, as in access to senior civil servants who have information relevant to the public, what we have is North America-patterned Freedom of Information legislation.
Well, we managed to get the chairman, Mr. Orlando Marville, to state that the inappropriate deadlines were "not cast in stone". In fact there is a deadlne for submission of views etc. that precedes the end of the Town Hall meetings. This does not make any sense.
I raised the question of a possible conflict between the FOIA and existing confidentiality legislation. In other words, if I go to the Fair Trading Commission and they tell me a certain document is confidential, will the FOIA legislation "take precedence" over the legislation governing the Fair Trading Commission, on the grounds that I am entitled to the information.
Or would it be the other way, thereby rendering the FOIA still-born, or useless in this regard.
Should Barbadians not have a bill that is broader in scope and depth than the North American legislation. Should our national strings not say "we want something that os relevant to our needs"?
The message though as we always say on this blog is get the facts, get the information and let's get off our buns and make a contribution.
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