On Friday morning, Energy, Mines and Resources decided to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding a list of lobbyists who are advising the government on its future power policy.
The department wasn’t sharing the names of companies or individuals offering advice on the independent power producer policy if the advisers requested anonymity, a letter from the government’s access to information office said.
But after the News requested an explanation for the secrecy, the department decided the names could not be withheld, after all.
“We’ll start posting them today,” said Mark Roberts, a spokesperson for Energy, Mines and Resources.
“We looked at it and the discussion documents suggested some comments documents would be kept private,” he said.
“Ultimately, all the comments would be subject to the (Access to Information Act).”
Public consultations for an independent power production policy were announced last fall after secret talks between the government and ATCO to privatize the Yukon’s electrical grid were put on hold.
Until today, the government had only shared the advice of groups who didn’t mind their names being published.
So the News requested a list of all other groups advising the government on the policy.
Two weeks ago, the access to information office sent a letter to the News declaring some advisers to the energy policy off-limits.
“Please be advised that anyone who provided comments on the development of the IPP policy had the opportunity to request that their submission not be made available to the public,” says a letter from the office.
“Any information from these records will be severed from the ATIPP response,” it says.
No section of the Access to Information Act was quoted in the decision to hide the names.
That elicited a fiery response from the official Opposition on the government’s attempts to keep the energy file secret.
“It really looks suspicious,” said Gary McRobb, the Liberal party’s energy critic.
“Yukoners deserves to know who the insiders are and how this policy is being developed.”
While the policy does not mean privatization of the entire electrical system, it would allow for private energy companies to generate electricity on the grid.
Companies with a vested interested in building a power plant down the road could be lobbying for a policy that would favour them, said NDP Leader Elizabeth Hanson.
“Let’s keep this above board.”
If the architects of the policy could be future power producers, the public should know, she said.
“If you’ve got a potential of profitting from the proposed policy – people should know that.”
Before today, only the New Democratic Party, Takhini Hot Springs, Leading Edge Projects, the Yukon Conservation Society and the Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre, as well as several individuals, had their views published on the Energy, Mines and Resources website.
As of press time this morning, no more names had been added.
“They’ll probably appear over the next few hours,” said Roberts.
He didn’t know the exact number of advisers that were going to be added.
“I don’t know how many, but there’s a bunch,” he said.
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