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May 2,2008 Tri City News

By Jeff Nagel - The Tri-City News - May 02, 2008
Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon says he won’t vote in favour of an NDP-led private member’s bill that would force TransLink’s board to open its closed-door meetings to the public.

“It’s a silly thing they’ve put out to try and suggest that somehow there’s not transparency and openness,” Falcon said.

The new appointed TransLink board has been under fire for excluding the public from its meetings and withholding reports, recommendations or even a record of votes taken.

Critics say the professionals who sit on the board are far more secretive than the mayors and councillors who previously ran TransLink until the province restructured it in January.

Falcon insisted the former TransLink board was no “paragon” of good governance because there was no clear line of accountability.

“You had people being appointed from another appointed board — the GVRD. People revolved in and out of there every year. I don’t think that was a great example of transparency and openness.”

He did not directly defend the new board’s policy of secrecy but promised the public will get better results than under the “failed model” of the past.

The TransLink Openness Act, tabled in late April by NDP transportation critic Maurine Karagianis, is expected to die a quick death without government support.

It would allow the public to address the board and observe the meetings — subject to “reasonable restrictions” the board would set.

Karagianis said that’s intended to allow closed meeting in the same limited circumstances that apply to most city councils.

“This would ensure the public has access to this board who has raised transit fares and given themselves a big fat raise in secret,” Karagianis said, adding the Liberals should “do the right thing” and support the bill.

“The public deserves to have openness, accountability and access to those board meetings.”

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