Make top bureaucrats' salaries public, Dwight Ball says
Opposition leader wants cabinet briefing books accessible
Opposition Leader Dwight Ball says a Liberal government would require the automatic disclosure of some of the documents that cabinet ministers carry in their briefcases, and what the province's top mandarins get paid.
Ball on Tuesday appeared before a government-appointed panel that is reviewing Newfoundland and Labrador's access to information legislation, and reiterated a pledge he made last year to repeal Bill 29.
Ball said he would like information on top salaries made public, noting that Ontario publishes a list of civil servants and appointees who earn more than $100,000.
"People have a right to know how the public purse is being spent - not only just with salaries but with bonuses and severances and what other perks are available to government workers," Ball said.
In a wide-ranging presentation to the panel, Ball said he wants the public to have access to the briefing books that are prepared for cabinet ministers - information that can be a goldmine for journalists and Opposition politicians, and a key example of the type of information that is now off-limits because of Bill 29.
"If the shoe was on the other foot in terms of your role and you were part of the cabinet you'd have no problem with your briefing books being made available to the public under these circumstances?" asked Doug Letto, a retired CBC producer who sits on the access review panel.
Speaking with reporters after his presentation, Ball said he would like to see Bill 29 — a controversial piece of legislation that former premier Kathy Dunderdale introduced in 2012 — overturned, and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act rolled back at least to what it had formerly been.
"What we've said from day one is we would repeal Bill 29 if we form government. To me, that becomes the reset, the starting point for what would be a review of this legislation," said Ball.
"If you go back to pre-Bill 29 days, the legislation would be better legislation."
Premier Tom Marshall unveiled the review committee that is studying not just the effects of Bill 29, but the broader scope of access to information laws.
The provincial government is expected to reveal its own thoughts on the law later this week, although it is not yet clear whether the presentation will be made in a public presentation or through a written submission.