On June 8, I published What’s really behind the Guardian’s decision not to publish my Guest Opinion. discussing the Regional Editor for the Guardian, Wayne Thibodeau’s, decision not to publish my Guest Opinion, No Justice for Deletion of E-gaming Records, which disclosed important facts about how Robert Ghiz and Neil Stewart ordered the destruction of e-gaming records; and how Wade MacLauchlan misinformed Islanders (in a 2016 Guardian year-end interview) concerning the manner in which the email accounts of senior-level government bureaucrats involved in e-gaming (still containing sensitive e-gaming records which had not been retained) had been destroyed.
Thibodeau told me that the reason he wouldn’t publish my article was that he feared a lawsuit – despite Paul McNeil publishing the same article in the Eastern Graphic – so, as I indicated at the end of that article, I decided I would submit another more “benign” version giving the same essential information [That version is below, at the end of this short article], which I then submitted to the Guardian and Journal Pioneer on June 10. I didn’t believe the reason Thibodeau gave me was the real reason for his decision not to publish it, so I wanted to see if I submitted a version with no possible legal concerns whether it would be published. So far, it’s not looking promising!
I sent it to the Guardian’s editorial/opinion editor, Bill McGuire, because when Mr. Thibodeau called me to say he wouldn’t publish my Guest Opinion no matter what, he also stated that: “Bill McGuire makes the decisions on most of the letters to the editor. Whenever he has something that he has a concern about…he’ll bring it to my attention.” So, I sent it to Mr. McGuire.
Well, I’m sad to say that Wayne Thibodeau has apparently since lost faith in Mr. McGuire’s ability to decide what is (or isn’t) appropriate to publish in the Guardian’s editorial/opinion pages…..at least when it comes to what I write.
On June 19, I sent the following email to Bill McGuire:
“Hi Bill, Did you receive the revised Guest Opinion I sent to you on June 14th? Will it be published in the Guardian? I would appreciate hearing back from you to let me know. Thanks. Kevin.”
“Kevin: Thanks for the query….Wayne Thibodeau has asked me to forward to him any submissions from you. I sent along your revised op-ed to him. Wayne wants you to call him about the article to discuss it further etc. Cheers, Bill.”
I couldn’t imagine Wayne wanting to hear my voice after my less-than-flattering (but absolutely truthful) article on him, so I thought to myself, “No, Bill must have misunderstood Wayne’s comments to him.” Nonetheless, I called Mr. Thibodeau, got his voicemail, and left a message asking him to call me back when he had a minute. I subsequently received the following email from Mr. Thibodeau:
“Kevin: Mr. McGuire misunderstood my comments to him.” [Ah ha…I knew it!]
“We thank you for your submission.” [You’re welcome, of course.]
“It will be considered for publication.” [“Unlike my first submission?” I mused to myself as I continued reading]
“The Guardian reserves the right of editorial discretion in the publication of letters…” [uh oh…that doesn’t sound good.]
“…as outlined in our disclosure on the editorial pages.” [Yikes…getting legal on me now]
“All the best, Wayne.” [Really? You’re wishing me ‘all the best’ while treating me like a piece of….excuse me for questioning your sincerity but…”] Sorry, I digress.
Well, it’s been 11 days and my revised article hasn’t appeared in the Guardian or Journal-Pioneer, but one can still hope I suppose. Afterall, he did say “It WILL be considered…..” and he didn’t indicate at what point in the future, so…
At any rate, Islanders will eventually be getting a much fuller and more accurate story on e-gaming, with or without the cooperation of Wayne Thibodeau and/or the Guardian….of that I am certain!
Mr. Thibodeau: You might have worked your way up to become the captain of a media monopoly in PEI, but if I was you I’d take care to consider that when you politely inform Islanders that you “reserve the right of editorial discretion,” especially when such acts of “discretion” have as their sole purpose the goal of keeping Guardian readers in the dark about what they have a right to know – but the Guardian won’t report on it’s own – well, that kind of “discretion exercising” kinda makes you look like a “bully”…which I (and every other Islander I’ve ever met) absolutely despise in foreign-owned private corporations controlling far-too much on this Island. Here’s a quote for you to ponder as you consider whether the “facts” which I’ve presented in my most recent article should be kept from Islanders by your discretion exercising:
“If only some people are given the opportunity to express themselves in society, if some people are denied access to tools for self-expression and, therefore, denied the ability to actually exercise their rights as citizens and as human beings, then the groups that allow that to happen are acting unethically.”
– Patricia Lancia, “The Ethical Implications of Monopoly Media Ownership,” Wilfred Laurier University.
POSTSCRIPT: It’s only recently dawned on me how appropriate the name “Guardian” is for our non-Island-owned monopolized daily newspaper.
The first dictionary meaning of “Guardian” is: “….defender, protector, keeper.” What better way to protect someone than being able to make sure that when he or she does bad stuff, no one finds out? [No news is good news for you know who];
The second dictionary meaning of “Guardian” is “…..a person who looks after and is legally responsible for someone who is unable to manage their own affairs, especially an incompetent or disabled person….” And that’s where the rest of us come in…..just think of the chaos and disorder that would ensue if we ordinary, common-folk Islanders were unscrupulously subjected to the raw truth about the way things really are on this idyllic, mighty Island? All I can say is “Thank God for the Keeper, the Protector, the Guardian!”
The following article was submitted to the Guardian and Journal-Pioneer on June 14, 2018:
Investigating the destruction of e-gaming records
When the PEI Auditor General (AG), Jane McAdam, released her e-gaming report on October 4, 2016, Islanders learned that the email accounts of three unnamed, senior government officials (containing important e-gaming records) had been deleted. Despite repeated requests from opposition MLAs during the remaining days of the 2016 fall sitting of the legislative assembly, premier MacLauchlan refused to release the names of the individuals who had their email accounts deleted.
In his 2016 year-end interviews with both the Guardian and CBC, premier MacLauchlan was asked about the deletion of those email accounts, and insisted they had been removed in accordance with normal government policy, as then Minister of Education, Hon. Doug Currie, had reported in the House on December 1, 2016 saying: “Even though the accounts are disabled, following the requests the records are backed up and stored for an additional year.”
That was indeed the “normal” policy, as the AG had stated in her e-gaming report: “When an employee leaves government, normal practice is to have the email account removed. We were advised by ITSS that after a period of one year, an account that has been removed cannot be recovered.”
But that is not what happened with those three email accounts.
When the AG appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on January 11, 2017, she disclosed that the deleted email accounts belonged to Rory Beck (Clerk of the Executive Council); Chris LeClair (Ghiz’s Chief-of-Staff); and Melissa MacEachern (Deputy Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning). She also clarified that it was Robert Ghiz and Neil Stewart who had the legal obligation to ensure records in those email accounts were retained, and that the only person with the legal authority to delete records was the Provincial Archivist.
At the next Public Accounts meeting on January 18, 2017, the AG disclosed that it was Robert Ghiz and Neil Stewart who ordered the deletion of the email accounts, still containing the e-gaming records.
At the February 15, 2017 Public Accounts meeting, the AG further disclosed that Ghiz ordered Chris LeClair’s email account deleted on October 19, 2011, just eight (8) days after Alan Campbell replaced him as Chief-of-Staff; that Ghiz ordered Rory Beck’s email account deleted on September 4, 2012, less than five (5) months after he died suddenly of a heart attack; and that Neil Stewart ordered Melissa MacEachern’s email account deleted on October 21, 2013, just six (6) months after leaving government.
This information proves that the claim made by premier MacLauchlan’s that the deletion of these three email accounts and e-gaming records happened in accordance with normal government policy – after the accounts had been ‘suspended’ and kept in tact for a year – was untrue.
You can find much more information about the deletion of e-gaming records in my investigative report on the subject (which opposition PC MLA and Justice Critic, Jamie Fox, tabled in the Legislative Assembly on May 22, 2018) as well as several other e-gaming related articles at kevinjarsenault.com.