At the february 1, 2017 meeting of the Public Accounts Committee PC Opposition MLA Steven Myers noted with some surprise:
“The last committee meeting, the last time this committee met, the auditor told us that Robert Ghiz had ordered the deletion of Chris LeClair’s email account and he [Scott Cudmore] might not have heard about it because the media didn’t cover it. It was a pretty significant find on our part that the Premier of Prince Edward Island ordered the email account deleted which meant that the records could no longer be found. When the auditor went looking she couldn’t find the emails because actually the account had been deleted at the hands of the Premier” (p. 88, My emphasis).
And neither the Guardian nor the CBC have ever reported this important information. In fact, as I outlined with considerable detail in What’s really behind the Guardian’s refusal to publish my e-gaming guest opinion, and A Guardian – Ghiz – E-gaming – Guest Opinion Update, all indications are that the Guardian remains committed to not reporting this information and making sure their readers don’t learn about it in any submitted Guest Opinions from people like me.
The official story concerning the missing e-gaming records from Premier MacLauchlan – since the time it was first learned that e-gaming records were not made available to the Auditor General investigating this matter – is that email accounts and e-gaming records were disposed of following normal government procedures. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I have carefully explained in my more substantive Investigative Report on the Destruction of E-gaming Records.
I have since obtained a copy of the Information Technology Support Services (ITSS) “Employee Removal Request Form” which was completed by Robert Ghiz authorizing ITSS to delete Ghiz’s Chief-of-Staff’s Groupwise email account.
I believe this document proves unequivocally that Ghiz knew that the records were supposed to be kept but decided to destroy those records. Why do I believe that? Because Ghiz was provided with the option on that form to have the ITSS staff save and transfer documents within the Groupwise email account to a secure location, but consciously “opted” not to have them saved by putting an X in the “Yes” box in response to the Question: “Do you want the user’s Network Files deleted?” [see the first question on the top section] knowing they would be “deleted”.
Given Ghiz’s selection of that option on the form, the ITSS staff-person handling the request would clearly have assumed that any records that were legally-required to be kept – in accordance with the Records and Archives Act; Treasury Board Directives and government’s Record Information Management Policy – would have already been copied and “archived,” and that the records remaining in the email account would therefore not need to be retained. This was, in fact, the case – according to Scott Cudmore [Director of Enterprise Architecture, Information Technology Shared Services, ITSS] who appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on February 1, 2017. In Mr. Cudmore’s own words:
“The actual process of deletion is mostly automatic and the assumption on the part of IT Shared Services at the time was that records had been retained according to records management policy” (Public Accounts Committee, February 1, 2017, p. 106)
Even though ITSS technicians were not directly responsible for record management per se, they were nonetheless aware of the legal requirement to retain important records, and ITSS had provided an option on the form offering to assist in the retention of records if required.
Even more shocking is the signed admission by Robert Ghiz near the bottom of the form that the only service he required from ITSS was the deletion of Chris LeClair’s email account, given that…
“Chris LeClair’s desktop has already been wiped…the only thing we want removed is his Groupwise Account. Thank you.”
It remains baffling to me and many others how neither Premier MacLauchlan, the Attorney General (Hon. Jordan Brown), nor the RCMP can’t see how this evidence constitutes reasonable grounds to lay a charge of “Attempt to Commit Mischief to Data,” contrary to s. 430(5)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
David Livingston, the Chief-of-Staff of the former Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, is currently serving a four (4) month sentence in jail for deleting select government records that should have been retained; Ghiz, on the other hand, employed a total “scorched earth” wipe-everything policy (he kept no hard copy e-gaming records of any kind for either Rory Beck or Chris LeClair as well) and there have been absolutely no consequences.
Little wonder why Islanders are losing faith in both the integrity of government officials and our policing system. I wonder what our justice system would say about this if someone was to initiate a private prosecution?