It was good news to hear that the King government will be bringing in an “external” investigator to look into the situation related to Brad Mix’s destroyed egaming records.
It was – however – TERRIBLE news to hear Minister MacKay talk about that investigation in the very same “let’s depersonalize the issue a much as possible” way as Premier MacLauchlan did after the discovery of destroyed records by the Auditor General back in 2016 forced him to announce a Government response.
Minister MacKay told CBC reporter Kerry Campbell last night that the focus will not be on finding the person and/or persons who “deliberately destroyed” important, sensitive and legally-relevant government documents, or on “repercussions” (although he didn’t rule that out as a possibility), but would be aimed at “fixing the record management system” to make sure that “this kind of thing never happens again.”
Watching Hon. Matthew MacKay mouth those Insider Club talking points from the steps of the Coles Bldg was extremely discouraging for me. It told me he is completely unaware that there’s nothing left to fix!
The records management system has already been nearly “perfected” during the previous major effort made by Premier MacLauchlan to “deflect” attention away from (a) individuals breaking laws, acting unethically, and possibly committing crimes to (b) “record management” system problems.
Things like: electronic file and email archives have all been centralized; staff can no longer (since 2015) “delete” electronic records or keep private archives. Every conceivable “check and balance” has already been put into place, yet Minister MacKay wants to do it all again! Nonsense.
This tried-and-true strategy of deflecting attention away from “people” to”systems” will not work this time around for the King Government. On a go-forward basis. Islanders expect justice, not more obfuscation.
Promises to “get to the bottom” of any issue with an investigation delivered under duress in the midst of this minefield of deception should be taken with a grain of salt.
Extreme vigilance is the order of the day if we are to ensure the Government does what needs to be done expeditiously and honestly to bring a just resolution to this matter.
1. Deliberate Destruction: The Basis for a Criminal Investigation
The Information Commissioner confirmed that someone [she doesn’t know who…that’s why we need a further investigation] “deliberately destroyed” 2 years of Brad Mix’s egaming records. The word “deliberate” goes to “intent”. For a criminal charge to stick, “intent” has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
When MLA Sidney MacEwan brought this up in Question Period, he obviously had a criminal investigation in mind because he said: “UNFORTUNATELY, the Information Commissioner was unable to determine who…..” thereby signalling that the purpose of an investigation would be to discover who is responsible for the deliberate destruction of these records so that government could then, presumably, take appropriate legal action and/or remove those individuals from Government.
That’s really the only issue needing an investigation. Yet it wasn’t mentioned by Minister MacKay in his Compass interview.
And what should the consequences for “deliberately destroying” government records be?
Let’s see what Matthew MacKay had to say about that before the body snatchers got him.
2. “Consequences” for “Deliberate Destruction” of Records
This clip is from an evening session during debate on an amendment to the Archives and Records Act that added a $10,000 penalty for deliberate document destruction.
It’s now clear that the focus of the investigation will not be on finding the person who destroyed those 2 years of government records. The objective for the investigation has once again become a technical hunt for record management system “problems” that need fixing or improvements, so these kinds of things don’t happen again. Sad. Here is the Compass interview from last night, June 16, 2020.
NOTHING…and I really mean this…. nothing short of bringing in qualified professionals from out-of-province (perhaps the Ontario Provincial Police who have experience investigating government document destruction as a criminal offence “Mischief to Data”) will now satisfy the demand for transparency and justice falling into the lap of the King government.
Islanders have an extremely high expectation that Government will finally stop playing word games and demonstrate a detailed, clear and proper process that will adequately address this situation.
MacKay’s performance on Compass last night was oddly reminiscent of the response Premier MacLauchlan gave in the Legislative Assembly when he was first called upon to honour a commitment to “get to the bottom” of the egaming scandal.
The key word in the exchange that took place on the opening day of the Session (November 15, 2016) was of course the term “consequences”. The PC Opposition leader was talking about the actions that certain individuals has taken that were illegal and possibly criminal. The constant theme cited – especially by Steven Myers – was that any Islander caught doing far-less serious offences would be thrown in jail. The PC’s wanted consequences for public servants committing illegal and unethical acts.
On the opening day of the Legislative Assembly in the Fall, 2016 sitting – immediately after the AG’s egaming report was made public – the interim-leader of the Official Opposition at the time, Hon. Jamie Fox, asked Premier MacLauchlan to tell the house what the “consequences” would be for bureaucrats who acted illegally and unethically. Here is the exchange:
Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier doesn’t think that anybody did anything wrong. You were quick to say that this isn’t how you do business, Mr. Premier. Sticking your head in the sand is no better. Mr. Premier, how do you expect Islanders to not be cynical when they see no consequences for these reckless actions by senior government officials that were elected or appointed?
Speaker: The hon. Premier.
Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, there is a consequence, and it is the direct result of the work of the Auditor General and of the commitment that I made when I said this is not the way we do business. That is, we have taken up the advice on all 15 of the recommendations. We have
committed that we are going to give good government, that we’re going to do –
MacLauchlan’s response meant there would be NO consequences for any individuals. As he stated: “they [senior bureaucrats] did nothing wrong,” adding that it wasn’t his style to throw public servants under the bus. His focus was set entirely and exclusively on “fixing” the record management system, as if the “system” was broken – which it wasn’t; that was all a ruse to protect those individuals who had committed the illegal acts and/or crimes.
As the PC MLAs pointed out at the time – the laws, policies and procedures were already in place, they just WEREN’T followed.
This refusal to hold delinquent senior public servants in government accountable is now the strongest basis for the widespread cynicism toward politicians that exists among Islanders. Government senior bureaucrats and politicians should not enjoy immunity from the legal and judicial system which every other Islander (at all times, under all circumstances) is subject to under our laws, courts and judicial system.
3. The System has Already been “Fixed”
I was shocked to hear Minister MacKay talking about “fixing the record management system” so this “never happens again”. Those talking points were exactly the same one’s used by Premier MacLauchlan. They represent an attempt to deflect attention away from the “:bureaucrats” who committed offences, to the “system”; to considerations concerning the technical information infrastructure, computer systems, record management policies, procedures, etc. ALL OF WHICH HAVE ALREADY BEEN FIXED TO NEAR PERFECTION under MacLauchlan!
There is ZERO need to “investigate” the record management system in the PEI government. The entire record management system is sound and comprehensive – when it is followed.
What we need by way of an investigation is a CRIMINAL investigation. Minister MacKay should stop suggesting that the source of this problem is anything other than unethical and unscrupulous public servants doing things that are unethical and/or illegal and unacceptable for government bureaucrats to be doing.
Let’s be clear about one thing here: the “system” didn’t break any laws or commit any crimes. PEOPLE did!
Any attempt to once again “depersonalize” the illegal and ethical behaviour of senior bureaucrats, who are still working within the PEI Government, will not end well for the King government.
This isn’t just about important government records that were deliberately destroyed. There are other issues of importance that have not been addressed.
We have yet to hear any response from Government concerning what the Privacy Commissioner’s Brad Mix Order said about the deliberate violation of the FOIPP Act by Government in deceiving me and Paul Maines (and for a while, the Information Commissioner as well) over a period of many months on a critically-important matter.
Is Deputy Minister David Keedwell going to be allowed to keep his job for deceiving me, Paul Maines and the Information Commissioner about these important records?
The Privacy Commissioner came down hard on Keedwell and others (although she didn’t “name” them) for committing illegal actions [willfully violating Section 8.1 of the FOIPP Act], in an egregious violation of the duty to deal openly and honestly with applicants to assist them in getting records. That deception completely breaks any trust between those particular “public servants” and the “public,” and can not be allowed to stand. There needs to be consequences immediately, and there doesn’t need to be a review or process or a consultation to issue pink slips.
Yet, so far, the future employment status of Keedwell and Mix has received no attention or mention by anyone but me.
I’m hoping MLAs will start to ask questions about both Brad Mix – who perjured himself in the CMT proceedings in sworn testimony, yet is still working in Government under Minister McKay – and David Keedwell, who orchestrated the “cover-up” of this scandalous and unethical treatment of Island residents seeking documents to which they are entitled under the law.
Are these people “untouchable” Matthew MacKay? Are they telling you what to do and say? Or are you the person in control within your Department? Fire their sorry asses and be done with it!
Premier King and Minister MacKay: PLEASE listen to and follow the advice given by your fellow Cabinet Minister Hon. Steven Myers in the following clip…there is no possible way I could have made a more eloquent and sincere plea for an open, honest, ethical and appropriate response.
Minister MacKay: If you mention fixing the record system again publicly I think I’ll pull all my hair out!