Journal-Pioneer Withholds “Withheld” E-gaming Information!

Final Image for JP Post

On September 26, 2018, I published another e-gaming report on my blog titled, “Explosive New Evidence: An Ongoing E-gaming Investigation,” That study provided evidence that the version of the e-gaming budget for the $950,000 e-gaming loan – which the Privacy Commissioner, Karen Rose, ordered the MacLauchlan government to release to the Guardian – was significantly altered, with three key budget lines with the details on three “third party e-gaming contracts” having been removed, and the amounts for each of those lines having been arbitrarily added to three other budget lines. I say “arbitrarily added” because the money was never intended to do the word described in the “deliverable” part of the budget line in the first place, but was sought to pay McInnis Cooper law firm for $600,000 worth of totally-unrelated “work” (mostly meeting with Wes Sheridan 100 times and talking to him on the phone during the previous year).  That report has been read – or at least viewed –  4,212 times so far.

The report was quite long – roughly 30 pages – so I decided to condense the most significant information into a 500 word Guest Opinion.  I sent that article – with a budget comparison chart – to Paul MacNeill (Eastern Graphic); Bill McGuire (Guardian); and Brad Works (Journal-Pioneer) on October 4, 2018 with the following message:

Wondering if you can publish this Guest Opinion. If not, please let me know so I can at least publish it on social media? I’ll hold off on doing that until I hear back from you.
P.S.  I’ve attached the excel chart as well as a screen capture graphic of that chart.
Kevin J Arsenault

I heard back almost immediately from Paul MacNeil: “Hi Kevin, thanks. This seems to be better suited to the Guardian.  Best, Paul.”  Hard to argue with that.

I also received an email response the same day from Brad Works: “Hi Kevin, I can probably publish it. Maybe Saturday but possibly not until next week. Does GDN have it also?” I responded to inform Brad that I had also sent it to the Guardian.

I heard nothing from anyone at the Guardian by Wednesday, October 10, so I called Bill McGuire (Opinion Page editor) and left a phone message, but didn’t hear back from him, so I sent the following message to Bill McGuire (and cc’d it to David MacKenzie, Regional President of Saltwire) yesterday (Thursday, October 11):

Good morning Bill,

It’s been a week since I’ve sent this guest opinion to the Guardian, both directly to your email and to letters@theguardian.pe.ca. I’ve also left a voicemail message on your phone a couple of days ago. I haven’t heard back from you or anyone else at the Guardian.
I’m only asking for a simple “yes” or “no” answer to my question whether the guardian will publish this piece. As I indicated in my original email, I’m holding off publishing this piece on social media until I know whether the Guardian will publish it. I would expect there would be an interest in this research, given the nature of the material, so could you or someone kindly let me know whether it will be published?
Sincerely,
Kevin J Arsenault

I still haven’t heard anything back from the Guardian, but I was happy to see my Guest Opinion appear in the Journal Pioneer today (Friday, October 12) with the title “Questioning Government Motives” – or at least most of it.

I was surprised to see that the most significant details, including the names and amounts of three “third-party contracts”  – ironically, the very same information the MacLauchlan government secretly removed from the version of the budget the government released to the Guardian – was deleted. Nor was the chart – which would also have revealed those details – included with the article.

This is what I submitted – the red text is what the J-P removed.

Did the MacLauchlan Government Fail to Comply with the Privacy Commissioner’s Order?

On Nov. 27, 2014. the Guardian submitted a FOIPP request seeking a copy of the $950,000 e-gaming loan agreement between the provincial government and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI (MCPEI). The Guardian eventually obtained a copy of the loan contract in November 2015; however, the “proposed budget” for the loan was withheld. The Guardian asked the privacy commissioner to review the matter, and the commissioner issued her decision on February 18, 2016, ordering the government to release the budget document “in its entirety.”

After receiving the document, the Guardian published an article on March 15, 2016 titled, “P.E.I. Government releases e-gaming documents,” providing a link to the loan budget. The budget had 13 line items, each containing a description of a “deliverable” with a corresponding “amount.”

I recently obtained a number of new e-gaming documents filed in the PEI Supreme Court by Capital Markets Technology (CMT). One document was a memo from McInnis Cooper lawyer, Kevin Kiley, to Mike O’Brien dated September 25, 2012, which discussed the final version of the $950,000 loan application budget which McInnis Cooper put together and submitted to Innovation PEI on behalf of MCPEI. In that memo, Kiley states: “We were requested to create a Business Plan for the Confederacy to be submitted to Innovation PEI,” adding that it was the “final version… broken down as follows.” That budget had 16 line items, including three “third party” contracts totally $185,000, all of which were absent from the version provided to the Guardian. In fact, the Guardian version didn’t even add up to $950,000, but only $925,000.

A comparative analysis of the two “versions” of the budgets – the one submitted to Innovation PEI, and the one provided to the Guardian – reveals that the Guardian’s version was missing three line items entirely, and three other line items were altered with arbitrary and significant increases  matching exactly the three missing “third party contract” amounts: the missing $75,000 allocated for Patrick Orr was added to line item #2; the missing $50,000 allocated for Edleman Canada was added to line item #3; and the missing $60,000 allocated for Simplex was added to line item #12. The $25,000 discrepancy in the total amount ($925,000 with the Guardian version rather than $950,000 in the original submitted version) resulted from a reduction of exactly that amount in line item #7.

I have published a more extensive analysis of this matter with additional evidence of tampering, along with other new information concerning the e-gaming issue, found at KevinJArsenault.com. I have also provided a PDF version of that article to the privacy commissioner suggesting that there is compelling evidence that the MacLauchlan government tampered with the original budget document to avoid disclosing third party information to the Guardian, as per the Commissioner’s Order. The privacy commissioner has indicated she intends to review both her Order and my research, and respond to me by the end of October.

This is the chart highlighting the same “deleted” details from the article:

I am grateful that the Journal-Pioneer published (a version) of my article containing most of the information – including the sentence directing readers to my website where they can read the full report; however, I’m baffled why the decision was made to deny the public the same information the government denied the paper!

The J-P only has one page for editorial/opinion content, whereas the Guardian has two pages.  I suppose it’s possible the deletion of the chart (at least) was a space limitation issue. It will be interesting to see if the Guardian will eventually publish my article, and if it does, whether it will be with all the information and chart, or whether they will also withhold the “third party information ” regarding Patrick Orr, Edleman and Simplex.

 

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