Friday, February 27th, 2009
So much for the Freedom of Information Act. Also, note the blatant astroturfing Metrolinx is engaged in.
Jeff Gray, The Globe and Mail
February 27, 2009
Transportation agency urged to ‘salt’ public sessions with supporters to avoid having its plans hijacked
A confidential draft of a Metrolinx communications strategy advised the province’s Toronto-area transportation agency to “salt” its public consultation sessions with supporters in order to avoid having its plans “hijacked by nimbies or local politicians on the make.”
The Globe and Mail obtained most of the document through a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. But one paragraph from the eight-page draft strategy, drawn up in advance of Metrolinx’s 25-year plan released last year, was withheld under an exemption in the act for “advice to government.”
The Globe then obtained the paragraph separately. Under the heading “Consultation Process,” it reads: “Our consultation period needs to be tightly structured and telescoped. The last thing we need is for this to be hijacked by nimbies or local politicians on the make. These should be mainly informational briefings. We should salt the sessions with supporters. An orgy of consultation will mire this in controversy and delay.”
The revelation comes as Metrolinx faces complaints about its public consultation process on the proposed rail link from Union Station to Pearson Airport from the Weston Community Coalition, a citizens group that opposes the plans because of the increased train traffic through their community.
But Rob MacIsaac, the president of Hamilton’s Mohawk College and the chairman of Metrolinx’s board of mostly local politicians, said that while he wrote much of the document the offending paragraph does not reflect his views and was written by a consultant he would not name. [Ed. Note: Should this not be a matter of public record?]