“Appeal of Misfortune” – An Online Investigative E-game That Doesn’t Involve Kicking
In my last article, I characterized the recent decision by the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture to kick three of my FOIPP requests for Government documents past the upcoming May 19, 2020, CMT Appeal Court Hearing date as “FOIPP-BALL” – the King Government’s favorite new “e-game.”
I’ve come up with of an e-game of my own for readers – and I’m happy to report that it doesn’t involve kicking anything I’m supposed to give to someone else anywhere!
If you have a bit of sleuthing inclination and solve the puzzle first, well, there’ll be a $100 prize coming your way via e-transfer, thanks to a donation a friend kindly made after I shared my idea for this contest-episode tracker with him.
Along with announcing this contest, I’m also launching a new 25-part series later this week l first announced back in early January that I want to reintroduce to readers.
Finally, I’ve made a few modifications to my roll-out plan for publishing the findings from my research that differs somewhat from what I first said I’d be doing back in early January, so I want to provide an update on how I’ll publish the remaining articles before the Appeal in May.
But first, a few words on why I believe this issue is important enough for me to make such a concentrated effort to make this information public in the coming weeks.
1. The January 2020 Court Filing and PC Betrayal on E-gaming
On January 11, 2020 post titled The King Government’s Response to CMT’s Appeal, I provided a significant amount of background information on the status of my current investigative work, including an overview of several pending FOIPP requests. I wrote that article immediately after reading the King Government’s Response to CMT’s Appeal that had just been filed with the PEI Court of Appeal.
That filing was evidence enough for me to abandon any remaining hope that the King Government, and the PC Party MLAs in Government, would reject the legal defense advanced by the MacLauchlan Government, almost every aspect of which PC MLAs had previously challenged as false when sitting as the Official Opposition.
The moment the King Government filed that fateful Court Document, the PC Party officially – signified by an official PEI Court of Appeal Stamp on the cover page – gave birth to what I’m certain will soon become known as the single-biggest betrayal of the electorate by an incoming Government ever witnessed in PEI.
The Government’s Appeal Court Response left me pondering what the fallout would be for the PC Party for completely abandoning the entire moral ground upon which it previously stood on the e-gaming scandal and claims made in the CMT lawsuit. How would PC MLAs explain all those powerful statements and claims they previously made, supported with documentary evidence revealing major problems with the Liberal position on the file, responses that were recorded in the official Hansard Record? Are the PC MLAs counting on most Islanders not being aware of what they previously said, or if they once were aware, now forget?
My new series exposes the hypocrisy of this massive PC Party “flip-flop” by showing Islanders what the PC Party truly knows and truly believes about this issue, yet advanced the opposite in their court filing. My new series will contrast, on an issue-by-issue basis:
(1) What the PC Government just swore in its Appeal Court filing;
(2) What PC MLAs said in the House as Official Opposition on these same issues.
This issue is far too important to let it quietly slide into the dustbin of history – the stakes are just too high.
Each and every PC MLA has “sheepishly” gone on the “lam” so to speak – where “mum” is the only word allowed. We’re facing a “Silence of the Lams” scenario every bit as ominous and deserving of a dedicated investigation as the Hollywood blockbuster. Only we need to track down an answer to the question of why the PC Government’s actions on this file are so completely out of sync – in fact, completely opposite to – their words and promises before becoming government, not to mention what they still know to be true.
Complete silence on one of the most scandalous and important political issues of our time is simply not an option for long. It will eventually have to end. The King Government has both a civic and moral obligation to explain to Islanders why it made a sudden and complete “about-face flip-flop” that feels no less creepy and threatening than suddenly slipping into the “upside-down” in Stranger Things.
I held out a good bit of hope that there would be a respectable response from the PC Government on this e-gaming scandal. To say I was disappointed with what the Government filed with the Appeal Court would be an understatement. This truly tragic, collective act of cowardice on the part of our newly-elected PC Government simply can’t be allowed to win the day. It’s wrong. It’s anti-democratic. It’s hypocritical – and a text-book example of “corruption in politics.”
CMT lost the Government’s Motion to Dismiss largely because of Jonathan Coady’s decision to keep materially-relevant documents from the eyes of Judge Campbell. That strategy broke the Rules of Court – and there will likely be consequences for Jonathan Coady and/or Stewart McKelvey for taking these actions at some point down-the-road.
Having said that, I suspect the Government and Stewart McKelvey law firm are still hoping that the Appeal Court Judges will be bound by the requirement to rule only on “legal errors” in Campbell’s ruling, and that there might still be a chance that CMT’s Appeal will not be successful. Coady didn’t disclose materially-relevant documents, that’s one issue, but a ruling based on insufficient evidence may not constitute a legal “error” by the Judge, or that’s what they’re liking counting on happening.
Wishful thinking that a technical legal escape hatch is going to cheat Lady Justice on this trip around the Courtyard is well, just that, wishful thinking. There are just too many eyes watching what’s happening; too many people aware of (and increasingly concerned about) the continued corruption in our Government, with mostly the same players at their stations under King as under the Liberals, and now a doubled-down “coverup’ response from Government, with more missing records and refusals to release Government records. This ridiculous line of ‘wishful thinking’ is little more than a desperate legal maneuver doomed to fail.
Most important of all, there are now far too many awake AND disgusted Islanders with a keen sense of what “access to justice” is supposed to look like, and who also know enough about the facts and the circumstances of this case to know that access to justice has so far not been provided to Maines and CMT.
There are countless legal errors in Campbell’s decision based on documentary evidence that was before Judge Campbell and he either chose to ignore or misinterpreted – stuff like thinking that an incredibly valuable, world-renowned “Claims Processing Software Stack” on the SIMPLEX Global Transaction Platform that was 100%-owned by CMT/FMT was a UK company.
I expect the PEI Court of Appeal Judges will quickly see that a sufficient quantity of relevant material was put before Judge Campbell that he didn’t address in his ruling to have warranted a trial. There are many other issues as well I won’t get into here, like a “Supplementary” Affidavit of Documents served on CMT’s lawyer by Coady, but not filed with Judge Campbell, again, something contrary to the Rules of Court.
The principles of natural justice enshrined in the Canadian Charter guarantee all Canadians access to justice within our judicial system, including here in PEI. I believe the evidence will convince the Appeal Court Judges that Paul Maines and CMT have so far been denied due process and “access to justice,” which will result in an Appeal Court decision to allow a fair adjudication of the company’s claims in a trial.
It’s impossible to even speculate on what was in the headspace of the PC MLAs who (apparently) calculated that betraying everything they had previously declared to be true about e-gaming was in any way a politically-astute or morally-justifiable thing to do, or that it could ever be successful in ending the e-gaming fiasco and allow PC MLAs to move on with their new political careers governing PEI.
I have absolutely no clue how many individual PC MLAs were – or even now “are” – aware of, or were/are actively involved in this latest e-gaming “system reboot” scandal with the King Government turning everything on its head. It really doesn’t matter.
What’s important now is whether PC MLAs are willing to defend the Liberal position the King Government has now fully embraced in its Appeal Court filing, or honour the words they spoke in the Legislative Assembly: they can’t do both!
Every single elected PC MLA, including the Premier, knows full-well that there’s nothing they can say to Islanders to defend what they filed in Court. It’s a stretch to expect another “about-face” by the government, or even any individual MLAs leaving the PC Cabinet or caucus, so I expect that not a single PC MLA will speak a single word to explain themselves, but I’d love to be proven wrong
After reading the Appeal Response filing from Government, I decided to see if I could somehow resurrect all the great work and insightful conclusions the PCs had presented to the MacLauchlan Liberals in the Legislative Assembly during Question Period. I had watched those sessions before – and had even helped the PCs with research and question preparation on a few occasions, sometimes texting information during Question Period.
The PC caucus relied on research in a report I had written about the deletion of Government e-gaming records titled: “Did Robert Ghiz and Neil Stewart Commit a Crime?” finding it compelling enough to have PC Justice Critic, Jamie Fox, ask questions of Premier MacLauchlan from my research for 2 days, and tabling the Report in the Legislative Assembly.
I wonder how many Islanders know how persistently and extensively the PC MLAs who are now Cabinet Minister fought for justice on the e-gaming issue in the Legislative Assembly? Well, they’re sure not pounding the desks anymore. The PC MLAs and King Government have now gone completely dark, like a submarine on the ocean floor, huddled and hushed together awaiting the passage of time with a prayer the threat will disappear on its own and normal operations will resume.
This “false hope” is unfortunately founded on the belief that with the normal human process of “public forgetting” of scandals over time, when all the contradictions, betrayals, and legal problems will eventually disappear, and that’s just not going to happen with the ongoing legal cases in the news for the next few months. So there’s a window of sorts between now and the upcoming Appeal to learn just how extensive the flip-flops have been, how complete the betrayal, and I’m sorry, there is no other honest word I can use.
When the PEI Government filed that document in the Appeal Court, I decided I’d dedicate a few months to making available to the public as much additional information and findings from my research as possible. Islanders need to know that on the flip side of the total silence from the PC King Government on all of this, there is a complete abdication of everything the PC Party previously stood for and said against the two former Liberal Governments about the e-gaming scandal and coverup. I’m hoping to fill in some of these “gaps in information” with my new 25-part series.
In my early January article, I made the following statement:
“I want to also let you know how I plan to present further results from my investigation on a go-forward basis. The Appeal is set for mid-May. The King government and Jonathan Coady have now played their last card with this filing. I, on the other hand, have a full deck in my back pocket I’ve yet to take out of the box.”
I wasn’t using the “deck of cards” reference solely as a metaphor. My plan was to post at least 52 articles before the May 19, 2020 Appeal Hearing. That number would comprise: (1) 25 episodes in the new series “All the King’s Horses: Then and Now”; and (2) an additional 27 articles on e-gaming, FOIPPs, or CMT Court-related matters. Since that time, I’ve published 15 non-series articles.
I had originally intended to complete the last two episodes in my first 25-part series “Truth and No Consequences,” but there’s been so much else happening since early January, I decided it makes a lot more sense to put those episodes last. Those two episodes aim to “finish” the story and sum up the main findings – at least as far as that’ll be possible at that point in time – so with additional FOIPP documents yet to be released, I want to wait to read as many documents as possible before publishing those wrap-up articles.
Episodes #24 and #25 will, therefore, be the last two posts in my planned 52 Pre-hearing posts before, but probably quite close to, the May 19th Appeal Court Hearing. In the rest of this article, I’ll explain how the e-game contest works, and how it also acts as an episode tracker.
But first I want to say a few things about the challenges and limitations of presenting complicated, technically-precise, and factual information in a way that is both clear and entertaining. Both clarity and entertainment are important; however, it’s the “entertainment” part of that equation that can be problematic with this kind of writing.
I’ve received quite a few suggestions about my writing style. which are often helpful and always appreciated, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts about that before introducing the rules of the contest I’m officially launching with this post. There are already 15 letters on the 52 letter board from the 15 non-series posts from the time I first made that commitment, so you can start trying to figure out the phrase right away, but think hard before you email me the answer – you only have one stab at getting it right.
2. The Challenge to Make Investigative Writing Entertaining
I receive many interesting comments and helpful suggestions on how I might improve my writing on the e-gaming and CMT lawsuit issues. They usually have the aim of better capturing the attention and interest of readers. But I get conflicting advice on that. Some say my style should remain as legal, precise, dry and professional as possible, and that I should stop trying to be funny or entertaining, definitely kill the dad-joke-like puns, and present yourself as a true professional. Hmmm…
Most people tell me I need to do the opposite: put more “storytelling” into my writing. I fully agree that the more narrative the better – stories are the authentic matrix connecting people in all truly human communication – and the better the story, the more engaged the reader: narrative bring images, smells, sights, and sounds that pull readers into the unfolding series of events – life scripts – so that it’s not simply information entering into the head as “data” but a much fuller “lived” experience that stays in the heart as images and dramatic mental videos that are far more powerful. permanent and transformative than simple data in the brain.
Unfortunately, I can’t risk obscuring the line between “fact” and “fiction” by putting a lot of that powerful “narrative” stuff in my writings, as much as I might want. It’s imperative that nothing is left ambiguous and able to be misinterpreted. Unfortunately, the algorithm governing that goes like this: “the more narrative storytelling detail in the writing, the greater the likelihood of confusion about what is true and what is imagined.”
Others have told me I should try to put more humour into my writing. Although sarcasm and satire can indeed be powerful and insightful literary devices, they carry far too much emotion, which also muddies things up, often raising questions in the mind of the reader about the strongly expressed “feelings” of the writer, generating idle and distracting speculations about possible ulterior motives of the investigator. In this way, attention gets shifted from what’s important (making sense out of the documented sources, facts and explanations) to fruitless imaginary musings. Using humour also often creates befuddlement, giving rise to the question: “Is what I just read factually correct? Or was he just trying to make a point with humour?”
I can sometimes slip in a few dad-joke-like puns or quasi-comical analogies without fear of confusing the issues, but most people don’t go too far out of their way to hear dad-joke-like puns and quasi-comical analogies.
So because this stuff is pretty dense and requires a real commitment on the part of you, the reader, to stay with it and try to make sense out of who’s who, who did what when, how what was done impacted and connected to other events, etc, and because I can’t use embellishments to beef up the storytelling, and I can’t use satirical comments without putting a note in brackets to clarify that I was just trying to make a point, not be factual, so I’m thinking that at the very least, readers can perhaps squeeze a bit entertainment out of this phrase-guessing game.
3. An “E-Game” that’s Legal and Free [And no, it’s not FOIPP-Ball]
The Jeopardy Board graphic for this post also has a very practical purpose. Just like a deck of cards, the Jeopardy board has exactly 52 spaces for Letters. Who knew?
I’ve come up with a phrase, and the first person who emails me a correct answer will get an email transfer of $100. There is already a letter on the board for each of the 15 articles I published since January 11, 2020, to give you a headstart on solving the puzzle. Here are the rules for this game:
- You only get one guess – email me with your answer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Another letter will be added to the board with each new article posted.
- The updated chart will appear at the end of each new article.
- The phrase has exactly 51 letters and one comma, and no spaces between words.
- Letters will either be blue for episode posts or yellow for non-episode.
The following section is taken from my article back in early January. I’m including it here for the benefit of any readers who may not have read that article. I plan on launching this new series later this week.
4. My new 25-part Series: “All the King’s Horses: Then and Now”
Unlike the first 25-part series of “episodes” which provided a substantial amount of information, this new series will provide much shorter pieces (3-5 pages) on targeted “issues.” I’ll be following a very simple format:
- A key issue in the CMT lawsuit will be identified.
- A minimum amount of information will be provided to explain why the issue is key for understanding the e-gaming scandal;
- Direct video clips from Question Period from one or more of the four King’s men (Aylward; McKay; Fox; and Myers) stated position of the PC Party THEN (before the election last April – there will also be “guest” appearances from other PC MLAs) speaking to that particular issue; and finally,
- Direct quotations taken from the King government’s January Response to CMT’s appeal Counsel Coady just filed, showing the PC government’s position on the very same issue NOW. If anything, the graphic is even more fitting now than it was when I first came up with it a month ago.
A Guide to Understanding the Graphic for This New Series
My graphic for this new series is very deliberate. You might think the play on words in the analogy is flawed: Egghead Humpty Dumpty wasn’t a “King” was he? Well, as it turns out, he apparently was.
Wikipedia notes that Katherine Elwes Thomas put forth a theory in 1930, later adopted by others, that Humpty Dumpty was based on King Richard III of England, who was a hunchback and apparently resembled an egg.
The four unhappy and pretty worried-looking men in the graphic are NOW four prominent Cabinet Ministers in the King government. THEN they were PC Party Opposition MLAs – and three of them held interim and/or permanent roles as PC Party leaders (Aylward, Myers, and Fox). These four individuals were the principal spokespersons on the e-gaming issues for the PC Party.
The two main lawyers working on e-gaming – Billy Dow (who helped to create the whole e-gaming mess) and Jonathan Coady (the “fixer” called in from Stewart McKelvey to make the mess disappear) – are the horses. Why? Because people (politicians) ride horses (lawyers) in this analogy to giddy-up to where they want to get (in power) – not the other way around.
When the peasants (Islanders) revolt (have an election) and Humpty goes Dumpty, all the King’s men are left standing around powerless and confused, unable to do anything but gaze upon their shattered dreams, trying to comprehend how all their good intentions could have gone so badly off the rails so soon after having just achieved their long-sought dream of becoming Government.
But guess what? When the peasants remove the King and his men (and women) from the castle, and new people take up residence, they’ll saddle up the very same horses as the previous tenants because they don’t live in the palace where people come and go, they live in the stable. The moral of this story is: “When politicians promise a stable government, be sure to ask what kind of “stable” they’re talking about!”
Notice the horse who’s been the stable stallion for years – the guy who helped to create the mess (Dow) – is smiling. The horse on the left, however, (Coady), is not smiling. Coady (who was recently crowned Lawyer of the Year and awarded the Queens Counsel designation) now looks a little worried that his clean-up efforts and strategic legal decisions might bring some unpleasant “consequences” for him and his law firm.
But it was Humpty Dumpty’s dialogue with Alice concerning the assigned meaning of certain words in “Through the Looking Glass” that really inspired the image for this series. The following citation became popular in United States legal opinions, appearing in 250 judicial decisions in the Westlaw database as of 19 April 2008, including two Supreme Court cases (TVA v. Hill and Zschernig v. Miller). It seemed a fitting observation for the PEI e-gaming scandal and coverup situation, where the essential meaning of words now seems so malleable with the King Governement:
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’?” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’?”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”