putting an end to gatekeepers

Public information should be in the public domain. The Education Reform Project has produced such a document.

Public information should be in the public domain.

The Education Reform Project has produced such a document.

Its final report, a two-year collaboration between the Yukon government and the Council of Yukon First Nations cost $1.5 million to draft.

It was completed in August.

Since then, the 150-page document has languished somewhere in the bureaucracy until somebody leaked it to Chon FM in mid- September.

Since then, some select details have been publicized by the media.

But the full document has not been made public.

It doesn’t make sense, said Liberal Eric Fairclough.

“There is little point in holding back the report, because it has already been leaked to the media as well as opposition parties,” he said.

“Yukoners should get to review the report as drafted by the authors, before what’s acceptable for public consumption has been ‘interpreted’ by Rouble,” said New Democrat Steve Cardiff.

They’re right.

But Rouble won’t budge.

He won’t release the document.

He won’t even discuss it.

Rouble has refused all requests for interviews.

Instead, in an attempt to further control the flow of information, he’s issuing statements through news release.

 “What we have before us at this stage is a draft report, which is undergoing review by a technical review committee,” said Rouble in a release issued to Whitehorse media outlets on Tuesday.

Essentially, what Rouble means is the report is being laundered … sorry, cleaned up for public consumption.

It is not the first time this has happened.

Rouble adopted the same gatekeeper role when Hold Fast Consultants Inc. submitted its controversial facility study to Education officials in May.

It was clear why Rouble didn’t want that report released: it cost $79,360 and urged the government to do nothing.

Despite that, it took two months and considerable public pressure before Rouble relented and quietly made it public.

The delay wasn’t acceptable then. It’s not acceptable now.

The Education Reform Project final report is what it is — final — and should be released to the public as is.

The government can then react to its recommendations in its own time.

They are, after all, recommendations and can be accepted, rejected or modified by cabinet.

But they shouldn’t be monkeyed with before the public has seen and had a chance to consider the original, raw ideas.

“I think there may be things in the report that are going to be controversial,” noted Cardiff. “But I think in a lot of ways that can be a good thing.”

He’s absolutely right.

After all, the report is simply the distillation of months of public work to improve the territory’s education system.

And we all have a stake in that. (RM)

Postscript: In the interest of freedom of information, the Yukon News will post the entire report on its website. Read it at www.yukon-news.com.

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