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BC lags behind Quebec, Washington, in access to government documents

VANCOUVER- Vive le Quebec. It may be freer than B.C. when it comes to fulfilling written requests for government information.

La belle province is tres belle after it turned around a request for information in eight days. An eight-week wait is not uncommon in B.C. where the government has come under criticism from the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

On July 2, 24 hours emailed Regie des installations olympiques seeking salary information for Montreal Olympic Stadium chair Maya Raic and president Andre Gourd.

It was part of research for a story comparing B.C Pavilion Corporation CEO Warren Buckley's $597,438 a year salary with public stadium and convention centre executives elsewhere. Documents were e-mailed and mailed on July 10. For the record, Gourd earned $144,311.52 from Feb. 25 to Dec. 20, 2008. Raic is a volunteer.

FIPA hasn't compared B.C. and Quebec, but it did test B.C. and Washington State. On Nov. 25, 2008, it sent identical FOI requests to the offices of Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Premier Gordon Campbell for records of intergovernmental meetings on the enhanced drivers' licence.

By Dec. 10, FIPA was sent 88 pages from south of the border for a total copying cost of US$5.30. Campbell's office sent a $620 fee estimate on Jan. 29, 2009, but no documents.

"We know that it's public information, we pay for government, we pay every salary there and the information should belong to us," said FIPA executive director Darrell Evans. "But people in government don't feel that way."

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 Hours

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