“There has to be a record that people can go back to, and I might say future historians can go back to…..This is something that we take to heart, recognizing the importance of it, and will indeed be implementing.”
– Wade MacLauchlan
[“E-gaming emails deleted, text messages not provided to AG” CBC,October 5, 2016]
For those of you following my blog, you’ll recall that on January 5, 2019, I published an article titled: “Breaking: New Court Document Confirms all Ghiz’s Electronic Records & Emails were Destroyed”
I had just obtained copies of some new documents that had been filed in the PEI Supreme Court, including the following Employee Record Removal Form for former Liberal Premier of PEI, Robert Ghiz:
What’s important to note about this form is that a premeditated and deliberate choice was made to “delete” all Ghiz’s network files and emails. When that option is selected, it’s against the law to do so without first copying and storing all the government records in the accounts.
It’s also important to note that there’s absolutely no possibility that Robert Ghiz didn’t have documents or emails that referenced the e-gaming project….I won’t go into explaining why in this article.
So the key question I wanted answered is whether MacLauchlan made sure Ghiz’s e-gaming records were copied and stored before the destruction order was issued. He most certainly knew that he had both the duty and legal obligation to ensure those records were retained. But were they?
When Wade MacLauchlan assumed the position of Premier after Robert Ghiz formally stepped down in early February, 2015 – months before he was elected Premier in the May, 2015 provincial election – MacLauchlan had a meeting with the provincial Archivist, Jill MacMicken-Wilson, along with staff from the Freedom of Information and Privacy Office (FOIPP), where he was made fully aware of the laws and procedures governing record management and retention. We know this because he shared that information in the Legislative Assembly on November 30, 2016, as recorded in Hansard, p. 1933:
Normally, the practice for senior government officials leaving office is to keep all electronic network documents and emails, and have Information Technology Shared Services (ITSS) simply disable the accounts to ensure they can no longer be accessed by the person no longer in that position. A “proxy” account is then set up to allow whoever might be replacing that individual access to the government records so he or she can carry on with the work, ongoing files, or unfinished projects. No where would this access be more important than with the position of a new and inexperienced Premier.
We all know how much easier it is to find documents – and especially, “information” within documents – using electronic keyword searches than by sorting through thousands of pages of hardcopy files; but for some unexplained reason, getting rid of Ghiz’s electronic files was a priority for Premier MacLauchlan, and they were ordered destroyed just a couple of weeks after he was elected Premier.
It was Brian Douglas who signed the destruction order (you may recall from Part 2 of my “Conspiracy to Commit Fraud” e-gaming series that Mr. Douglas was one of the Island Investment Development Inc. (IIDI) Board members who approved the $950,000 e-gaming loan back in the Fall of 2011), but he clearly would not have had the authority to make that call on his own.
In my previous January article reporting the destruction of Ghiz’s electronic documents and emails, I stopped short of making the claim that all Ghiz’s e-gaming FILES were destroyed, knowing that MacLauchlan had received instructions on the legal requirement to retain them. If electronic files are deleted, they must first be copied and archived in hard-copy form. To find out whether this had happened with Robert Ghis’s government records, I decided to submit an Access to Information Request asking for those records.
In both email and telephone discussions with the Access person handling my request, I was informed that she had discovered that – as a result of another Access request – 14 boxes of documents from Robert Ghiz had been retained, and that they had been organized in folders by “subject”. To ensure that I would be able to definitively answer whether Ghiz’s e-gaming documents had either been kept or destroyed, I asked for all documents using three key subjects: E-gaming; Capital Markets Technology (CMT); and Bruce MacDonald.
At this juncture, it’s important to recall that PEI’s first and only “Securities” investigation [File # 001] was launched against Capital Markets Technology on a phoney allegation that the owner of CMT had defrauded a “woman with cancer” of her life savings. The claim was completely bogus, and to prove that, CMT hired a former RCMP officer turned private investigator, Bruce MacDonald, [RB Mac Investigations]who produced a substantive report exposing that no formal complaint nor evidence backing up such a complaint was ever submitted to government.
An advanced copy of that report was sent to Ghiz’s close friend and lawyer, Billy Dow, just before Ghiz announced he was stepping down as Premier on November 13, 2014. That same report was actually released to the general public and media the day after Ghiz’s resignation announcement, and was subsequently tabled in the Legislative Assembly. It was that bogus allegation and Securities Investigation that derailed CMT’s business plans in PEI, and eventually spurred the law suit. There is no possible way that Ghiz would not have had documents relating to, or mentioning, Bruce MacDonald.
I filed my Access to Information request on January 28, 2019 and received a decision letter yesterday (April 11, 2019). The relevant paragraph is as follows:
The electronic search shouldn’t have taken 20 minutes. In fact, it shouldn’t have taken any time at all: Ghiz’s electronic documents and emails – his e-gaming files included – were ALL deleted back in May, 2015. Perhaps the folks in Premier MacLauchlan’s office working on my request didn’t realize I already knew that, and wanted me to believe they were still intact.
At at any rate, what I really wanted to find out with my access request for Ghiz’s e-gaming documents I’ve now discovered: someone, somehow, at some time, for some unknown reason, abducted Ghiz’s e-gaming records and an Amber Alert has now been issued declaring them officially “missing”.
I’ll be filing a “missing records report” with the Information and Privacy Commissioner asking her to investigate this matter. Maybe she can find out where they went….she’s really good at her job.