Yesterday was the deadline for the Public Body to respond to a FOIP request I had submitted to the Premier’s office on December 3rd, 2019. I thought I’d be posting an article today announcing that the King government was in another “deemed refusal” when 4:30pm rolled around yesterday, then heard a ‘ding’ on my computer. I received the following letter at exactly 4:30 pm via email – another minute and it would have technically been another “deemed refusal”.
On December 19, 2019, I received a letter from the public body indicating that additional time would be required and that I would receive a response by January 23rd (yesterday). This letter yesterday only bought the Premier’s office a few more days (not sure what’s taken so long to process so few documents) and kept the Government within the scope of the law. But the time the Act allows is fast running out, and they are now promising to respond by January 30th.
The Department can technically take up to 60 days to respond to applicants but must receive permission from the Information Commissioner for an extension beyond that time, except when 3rd parties are mentioned in the documents and need to be consulted, in which case the public body can take another 20 -30 days.
Why is that Management Letter from the AG to the Premier so important? Because if my hunch is correct, information concerning the PEI government’s outside legal counsel, Billy Dow’s insider trading was in that letter, and not just around the time of the MOU. If it is, then it was — and still is – the Premier’s duty to do something about it.
That crucially-important document – and the response from the Premier to the AG that was supposed to follow her letter – has never been tabled in the House or made public – and now I am supposed to get that document (and others related to it) by next Friday.
If I don’t receive the documents, it will be another illegal “deemed refusal” for which I’ll be filing a review with the Information Commissioner.
In the meantime, you should know how hard the PCs worked to force the Liberal Government to disclose that Management Letter from the AG (unsuccessfully), and how it is now the King Government’s turn to honour what they said in the Legislative Assembly about Islander’s right to full transparency and disclosure. As Steven Myers stated so eloquently in the final video in this Post:
“The Time for Answers is Now: This is your Opportunity!”
Although Myers is addressing Premier MacLauchlan in the two video clips in this post, when the Camera is on Myers speaking, it’s hard not to picture Premier King on the other side of the House taking the pummelling as Myer’s steely gaze and laser-sharp sense of ethical and political responsibility drill deep into the Premier. Ah…the good ole days!
Important stuff, and pretty interesting given the count-down to getting an answer to the big question next week: Will Premier King give me the Management Letter?
1. The AG’s E-Gaming Management Letter to the Premier
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts first learned about that Management Letter that the Auditor General sent to the Premier during a meeting on November 10, 2016. The Management Letter came up in a response from the AG to a question about Billy Dow’s investment in CMT, which she referenced in her E-gaming Report as having the “appearance” of a conflict of interest. Committee members were asking about that, and the discussion moved to who was responsible for what (AG vs. Government) and the Management Letter.
Note that his broker for that investment wasn’t Paul Maines [Shocker] but Shane MacEachern at RBC Financial.
The Committee members pressed the AG on why she thought Dow was in a conflict of interest, but the AG was very clear that it was not her role to determine wrongdoing of third-parties with Government, but only to provide relevant facts she uncovered in her Audit about more serious matters which the Government needed to address, and that information was transferred in the form of an audit “Management Letter”.
As you can see – despite what Minister Roach says in one of the videos several times – the full onus to take action on any serious issues identified by the AG – even matters she may have determined were illegal or criminal – knowing that if any further investigation into whether anything illegal or criminal occurred was to take place, that decision would have to come from the Premier:
Shortly after that Public Accounts Committee Meeting, Steven Myers raised the issue of the Management Letter in Question Period. It’s about 7 minutes long but worth watching in its entirety:
The Premier may not have brought the evidence that was in that Management Letter to the PEI Law Society, but in the course of my investigation into the money-side of the e-gaming scandal, I had uncovered new evidence that I suspect the AG knew and had also put in that letter: namely, that Billy Dow was conflicted and engaged in insider trading at the time he made the investment – not just a year later when he worked on the MOU.
But just like Judge Campbell in his ruling to dismiss CMT’s lawsuit, it appears some kind of “pact” occurred that no matter what, no one was to acknowledge EVER that there was any possible wrongdoing, or even “relevance”, to events in the Pre-MOU period.
It happened to CMT with the PEI Supreme Court case; it happened to me with the Billy Dow Complaint to the PEI Law Society.
2. My Law Society Complaint Against Billy Dow
Prior to my complaint to the PEI Law Society, Michael Redmond, when Leader of the NDP, had filed a complaint. They sound a lot the same, but they’re totally different due to two key things (a) different time period, and (b) different legal relationship causing the “conflict of interest” with a different legal entity. Not to go too deep into it, but I’ll try to explain the essential differences.
In the response to Redmond’s complaint, Billy Dow stated– as he had previously claimed in a 2015 Letter he sent (via email) to Globe and Mail reporter Robyn Doolittle – that he was totally unaware that TBT was a wholly-owned subsidiary of CMT in 2011, and when he became aware in September 2012, he took immediate steps to remove himself from the file.
Redmond initially filed a complaint with the Secretary-Treasurer of the PEI Law Society, who ruled there was no conflict of interest.
He subsequently appealed that decision to the PEI Law Society’s Disciplinary Committee. In its Decision, the Committee also concluded there was no conflict of interest and that no disciplinary action against Dow needed to be taken.
During the part of my e-gaming investigation into how the e-gaming loan and grants were all obtained fraudulently, I discovered that Billy Dow figured prominently in that story – not only in his capacity as outside legal counsel for Innovation PEI, a Crown Corporation, but also outside Legal Counsel for the PEI Government on the e-gaming file since February 2010.
I provided documentary evidence demonstrating that fact to the Law Society, along with other documentation revealing Dow’s intimate knowledge and involvement in the entire gaming file, including the plan for CMT to transition into a local PEI company FMT (called “Trinity Bay” when the MOU was signed).
I had posted a blog article in my e-gaming funding series on April 2, 2019, titled, “Complaint Letter to the Law Society against Billy Dow,” which followed another article documenting Dow’s unethical and (I believe) illegal involvement in that e-gaming $1 million dollar loan fiasco: “A Conspiracy to Commit Fraud: The Full Story on the E-gaming Loan.”
When I filed my complaint with the Law Society on April 3, 2019. I expected I would receive a response to my evidence from Dow -that’s how it should work, and that’s the process mapped out on the PEI Law Society website :
“The lawyer involved will be sent your complaint and asked for a response within 2 weeks (or longer in appropriate circumstances). Once the lawyer’s response is received, a copy will be sent to you. Along with the lawyer’s response, you will be given an opportunity to make additional comments. At this point, you may be satisfied with the lawyer’s response. “
That never happened.
Dow likely received a copy of all my material, but I never heard anything back from anyone until I received the Decision Letter from the Law Society Secretary-Treasurer, Susan Robinson.
I filed an extensive body of information and research with a complaint letter, and I was extremely careful to draw attention to how my complaint differed completely from the complaint Redmond filed and had dismissed. You can read the entire letter here, but for the purposes of this article, the following three paragraphs are the important ones:
The Secretary-Treasurer of the PEI Law Society handling the file was Susan Robinson.
I can’t say I was very hopeful I’d get anywhere with my complaint, but I really wanted to see what Billy Dow would say about the new evidence I had submitted.
Despite my efforts to ensure clarity concerning how my complaint was entirely different from Redmond’s, there was ABSOLUTELY NO REFERENCE WHATSOEVER to the substance of my complaint in Robinson’s decision letter. She treated my complaint as if it was exactly the same complaint made by Redmond. Read what Ms. Robinson wrote in her letter to me, keeping in mind what I wrote in my letter to her, in those paragraphs cited above:
“The allegation of conflict of interest has already been dealt with by this office and confirmed by a Discipline Committee in August, 2017. I repeat the findings here.”
I gave up on the idea of trying to take things further with the PEI Law Society.
I had uncovered documentary evidence that Billy Dow was involved with the gaming file as outside legal counsel from early 2010, so I figured the Auditor General likely had that same information as well. My thoughts immediately turned to that Management Letter. I eventually got around to submitting a FOIP for it.
Now I’m finally going to get to see whether Premier MacLauchlan knew Billy Dow was indeed involved in Insider Trading in a Conflict of Interest situation with CMT and the gaming file and chose to cover up that information to protect him.
It’s important to realize that the AG was not really at liberty to speak about the contents of her Management Letter sent to the Premier. It was, as she put it to the Public Accounts Committee – outside the scope of her Mandate. Her role was to notify the government of important management/governance issues, which she did in that Management Letter.
The Premier’s role was – and still is – to “act” on the information provided by the Auditor General in that Management Letter.
Will the PC government chalk up another “deemed refusal” on January 30th?
Or will the Premier decide to finally make this key document public and display concrete evidence that his commitment to be open and transparent is sincere?
I’ll end with another video clip of Myers talking about the Management Letter: An important historical record for sure.
Pay attention to how Minister Roach misleads the House by saying that the AG found nothing “criminal” in her investigation/audit, or else she would have said something – not true! She might have found something she believed was indeed criminal, but she wouldn’t have put that information in her E-gaming Report, but rather, her Management Letter to the Premier.
Will the King government release this public document to me by January 30, 2020, in accordance with the law?
I really hope he has a chance to view this next video of Myers talking about releasing these documents. In the first video, Myers launches into a passionate plea for the Premier to not treat senior bureaucrats, lawyers, and politicians “differently” from the rest of Islanders when it comes to illegal activity, or not following government policy [e.g., MacLauchlan explained it well by saying that the “consequences” for white-collar crime is apparently for the rest of us to try harder to, essentially, ” make it harder for senior bureaucrats, lawyers, and politicians to get away with it next time” by improving laws and policies]. These guys didn’t slip through cracks and loopholes; they broke laws, and when that happens, consequences should fall to the lawbreakers.
How insulting to the rest of us Islanders who would get dragged off to Sleepy Hollow in the blink of an eye for doing a lot less damage to the moral fabric of society!
Remember: Despite all the promises by the previous government to release that Management Letter and supporting documentation, nothing was ever tabled in the House nor made public. Nor was there any response by the Premier to the AG – again, promised to be made public, nor any information on the “steps” the government took, if any, to address the concerns documented by the AG in her Management Letter. In fact – to this day – we don’t know what those concerns were exactly – perhaps we will find out next week.