BREAKING: King Government’s Violation of Court Order Results in “Contempt” Order Court Filing

Supreme Coourt

Earlier today (January 15, 2020) Paul Maines filed a Motion Record, Affidavit, and supporting documents in the PEI Supreme Court, and served Deputy Minister Erin McGrath-Gaudet with a Notice of Motion for a hearing to be held in the PEI Supreme Court on February 6, 2020. Maines sent that Court filing document (23 pgs) to a long list of media earlier this evening.

Maines is seeking two Orders from the PEI Supreme Court: (1) a Contempt Order, pursuant to section 60.12; and (2) an Order for the government documents he is seeking to be released.

Background

On May 14, 2019, Maines filed a FOIP request with the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture seeking the following:

Contempt Foip

When months passed, and the Department exhausted all legitimate reasons for extensions, and still refused to release the records, Maines filed reviews on four separate Access Requests with the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Karen Rose.

By that time all four files were considered by the Commissioner to be in “deemed refusal” – e .g., the government was defiantly refusing to turn over the records to the applicant despite having no legal grounds to withhold them, in complete contravention of its own FOIP Act.

“Consent Orders” were sought by the PEI government as a show of good faith in providing Maines with the documents. Maines agreed to provide the Department with additional time, on a schedule for document releases (each of the four “staggered” and to be released at different times) and that schedule was determined by – so obviously acceptable to – the government at the time.

Those four Consent Orders were signed on September 23, 2019, by all three Parties: (1) the Deputy Minister (Erin Gaudet-McGrath), (2) Paul Maines, and (3) the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Maines then filed those four Orders with the PEI Supreme Court, each Order getting its own Court File number, effectively making them Supreme Court Orders.

The deadline for the PEI government to turn over the documents on this particular Court Order was January 7, 2020. That didn’t happen. Now Maines has filed a Court Action to compel the release of the documents, and we’ll find out what will happen soon.

Premier King made sure the Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture was aware that transparency was a priority when he wrote the following in the Mandate letter to Minister MacKay: “We seek the involvement of the People, ensuring our progress is measurable through transparent decision making and broad public engagement.”

In keeping with the theme of my next 25-part series, “All the King’s Horses: Then and Now” – which will feature the myriad of flip-flops on the e-gaming/CMT lawsuit file with the PC government – I’ll end with the THEN words of Dennis King (before he became Premier) spoken at the all leader’s debate at the Murchison Centre. King received rousing applause with these eloquent words:

“I think that a lot of problems become challenges for the government when the proper information is not in the public domain…I come from this background of Journalism, and I believe deeply that knowledge is power, and I think that transparency is something that all people in Prince Edward Island are not just expecting, but they’re demanding, from their elected officials, I think it’s really a value of trust. At the end of the day, it comes down to proper transparency.” [Premier Dennis King]

Those words were not only very wise, that part about “…problems becoming challenges for government…” was eerily prophetic.

If you want the full monty, step-by-step detail on this “breaking news” (I wonder if the CBC, Guardian, Journal Pioneer, and Eastern Graphic will report this news?) you can read the Motion, Affidavit and 5 accompanying documents here: Maines January 15, 2020, Court Filing.

Kevin J. Arsenault

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