But critics believe new transparency still falls short
The National Capital Commission has opened board meetings to the public, but that doesn’t make the Crown corporation more transparent, some observers said yesterday.
Yesterday’s first-ever open meeting of directors at the Holiday Inn Plaza in Gatineau was meant to show the public how the NCC works, said board chairman Russ Mills, but some attendees were critical of the format.
“Right now, it’s a PR show,” said Ottawa resident Harold Yule. “It’s a press conference.”
Yule said what he heard being presented was a report on business. What he wanted to hear was the report, the discussion and the debate.
“I think it’s pretty pathetic,” added Ottawa resident Ken Rubin.
But Mills called the meeting a “first step in increasing the openness in the NCC.” As a former publisher of the Ottawa Citizen, Mills was often critical of the NCC for its secrecy.
“We’re doing public business and spending public money. Public issues should be done in the public,” he said.
“This is the fluff part of the NCC’s operational cost work,” said Rubin, who called himself a longtime observer and critic of NCC affairs. “They’re not going to tell the public anything more.”
Others who arrived for a first look at what the board does behind the scenes were willing to reserve judgment.
“It’s certainly long-awaited,” said Ottawa’s Kendra Forbes. “It’s been too closed for too long.
“I think we have to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Yule was surprised at the low turnout, given the NCC’s power to affect the capital.
“But (the NCC) seems to have called it by the number of chairs in there,” he said. “They didn’t rent Lansdowne Park.”
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