In my recent blog post – Will the King Government Release the Auditor General’s E-gaming Management Letter? – I explained how the Premier’s Office had narrowly missed falling into another “deemed refusal” with one of my FOIP requests. This particular request is asking for the E-gaming Management Letter, and related documents, from the Premier’s Office.
At the last minute, literally, I received a letter on January 23rd telling me that the Premier’s Office would be taking another week before responding and that I would receive a response no later than January 30, 2020.
I included two quite lengthy videos in my previous blog post where Steven Myers asks two sets of targeted questions to the Premier (on two different days) about the AG’s Management Letter, demanding that he table it in the House making the document public.
The PCs tried – as the Official Opposition – for two full years to squeeze this same Management Letter from the Liberal government, and many other e-gaming documents, repeatedly calling out MacLauchlan for covering up the e-gaming scandal and failing to honour his oft-stated commitment to be open and transparent with Islanders.
The PCs spoke forcefully and convincingly that this time, THIS TIME…..if Islanders would only put aside their cynicism one last time, THIS TIME, it really was going to be different. Islanders would finally get to see what real transparency looks like!
Given such a strong, persistent and consistent message about being different, THIS TIME, and the constant demands to produce e-gaming documents and information that the PCs made on the Liberals, after the PCs formed government, I had visions of the PCs dancing in the streets parading behind the Premier, waving the Management Letter in the air as throngs of Islanders cheered from the sidelines. What happened?
There has never been any mention of the Management Letter whatsoever since the PCs became Government, nor any word of other missing e-gaming documents, for example, two years of missing Brad Mix’s records, only discovered in July, after the Tories took power, or; how much the lawsuit cost taxpayers (something else the PCs hounded the Liberals for day-after-day). In fact, the word “e-gaming” hasn’t even been mentioned.
With no documents being waved in the air, I endeavoured to get the Management Letter myself, in accordance with one of our laws that even elected officials forming Government are required to follow.
Some nine months later, I really didn’t know what to expect from the Premier’s office. After speculating and discussing what I might expect by way of a response with friends during the past week, I concluded that one of the following three things would occur:
- I don’t get a response, in which case, it would be a “deemed refusal” and I would seek an Order from the Information Commissioner to compel the release of the records in accordance with the law;
- I get the Management Letter, and possibly some other documents, but they are heavily redacted. If that happened, a review would be requested with the Information Commissioner to verify legitimate grounds for withholding information.
- I get all the documents I should get under the FOIPP Act, without redactions.
None of these three things happened.
I’m actually still trying to process the response I received – something I never once imagined happening – but you can read it for yourself, then read the letter I wrote to the Information Commissioner requesting a review of this matter under Section 8 of the FOIPP Act. But I’ll give you the guts of it with the following sentence from the Letter:
“I am writing to inform you that a search of the Premier’s Office failed to retrieve any records related to the subject of your request.”
Things are getting serious folks! It looks to me like we’re at a tipping point: Islanders will finally find out the true nature and character of both the Government and the Official Opposition based on responses to this situation.
Peter Bevan-Baker should be calling for a full and independent investigation of these missing files from the Premier’s office immediately.
Premier King should be announcing such an inquiry immediately.
These questions MUST be answered: (1) Did the Liberals destroy these documents on the way out? (2) Did the PCs destroy them on the way in?; and (3) did someone in the King government know about these missing documents, but said and did nothing?
As noted in my letter to the Information Commissioner below, it is simply not believable that the Management Letter and related documents somehow went missing “accidentally” – someone made sure that the contents of those incredibly important documents remain secret.
If the King Government was willing to make these records public, a simple phone call to the Auditor General with a request for copies is all that is required. Unfortunately, the Auditor General doesn’t fall under the FOIPP Act, so if the Government doesn’t ask for copies of the documents, it falls to the Legislative Assembly, to which the Auditor General answers. Islanders, we can not let this stand.
I have already filed a review with the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Karen Rose: