Lifting the Veil of Government Hypocrisy
“Every veil secretly desires to be lifted, except the veil of Hypocrisy.” — Richard Garnett
Hypocrisy isn’t just “telling a lie”. Hypocrisy is when everything you tell is a lie. Big difference.
The only way for a politician to survive being publicly exposed as a hypocrite is to either: (1) fess up completely and immediately, be forgiven, and possibly be rewarded for his or her honesty next time at the polls; or (2) somehow ensure that “being publicly exposed” doesn’t translate into very many Islanders actually finding out and understanding what they did, at least not before finding a way to trick voters into giving them another political mandate.
Premier King and the PC MLAs had a chance to come clean during Debate on Motion 86 on Tuesday evening (June 30, 2020) but decided to go another route. Someone was convinced that the Premier’s stellar story-telling skills (probably bolstered with confident reassurances from lawyer members of the Insider Club, who also likely wrote his speech) ended up convincing him that it would be a slam dunk – that he’d easily come out the debate winner, not show the weakness of going back on previous statements (irrational as they may have been), and more likely be able to control and/or delay the investigative process in an existing Legislative Standing Committee. Not a smart plan.
Before getting into how that strategy crashed and burned, permit me the indulgence of a family story that always brings a smile to my face. It comes from my brother.
When one of my brother’s daughters was about 3 yrs old, she got herself alone and into his pool cue chalk down in the basement rec-room, completely covering both her hands and face with blue. My brother got out his VHS camera (this happened a while ago) and recorded her cute little smurf face uttering the sweetest, emphatic and very sincere protestations that she did not touch his pool cue chalk!. Funny as hell when you’re a 3-year old – not so funny when you’re the Premier of Prince Edward Island.
That’s pretty much what happened Tuesday evening in the Legislative Assembly. There were broad swaths of egaming Tory blue “cover-up” chalk dust smeared all over the Premier’s face.
I was sincerely hoping that the Government would finally come clean about how it has been systematically and completely covering up the egaming scandal, and hiding the truth from Islanders. That didn’t happen. The proof of their complicity with the corruption and cover-up is now so overwhelming it’s baffling to me how anyone in the PC Government could believe such a strategy of pretense and denial could ever be successful now. But here we are.
Premier King had one final chance to do the right thing Tuesday evening in the Legislative Assembly and he failed to do it. He attempted to keep the facts and truth hidden, presenting a string of falsehoods and contradictions in a poorly strung-together moralizing and quasi-condescending irrational bluster.
Everything – and I do mean everything – the Premier said by way of an “argument” or legitimate reason to vote down Motion 86 was based on a lie – which makes it hypocrisy!
Anyone listening to Premier King’s masterfully-delivered speech on Motion 86 – unaware of the facts explaining the true context within which Premier’s words must be understood – would likely have been persuaded by what the Premier said.
The way he praised Peter, then feigned legitimate disbelief, sadness and confusion over how his always collaborating legislative bubble buddy could pull such a cheap political stunt – presenting poor Peter (with kindness of course) as a veritable “wolf-in-Sheep’s clothing,” descending into the use of a dirty partisan political trick, something Premier King indicated he had vanquished from the House and made a relic of a bygone era. It was a “Get behind me Satan” kind of moment in his speech. But way too loud.
When Premier King presented Bevan-Baker’s response to Government’s filibustering by Steven Myers during debate on Motion 86 as a cheap political stunt, as something totally out of character for an otherwise fine and upstanding member of the Legislative Assembly, well it just felt desperate and uncomfortable. He said he was shocked and perplexed. Really? That Motion wasn’t shocking to Islanders at all…it was welcomed with excitement and hope.
The “louder than usual” level in the Premier’s voice – oscillating at times with that “wake-like” quiet tone combining sadness with regret (with just a hint of shame and guilt transfer) – betrayed a palpable insecurity:
I trusted Dennis King to do what had to be done before he became Premier King and did my best to help him get elected. I then provided both him and Hon. Matthew MacKay with multiple “head’s up” about what was about to rain down on their heads if they didn’t take action. Those warnings were ignored in favour of further and total cover-up, and many further breaches of the law.
The emperor (King in this instance) may not be wearing any real clothes after all, but the hypocrisy now exposed at least replaces the illusion of truth with the exposure of hypocrisy. That exposure provides a coat of shame for betraying the promise to govern with integrity, openness, honesty and transparency.
If you go back to the video of last Thursday afternoon’s (June 26, 2020) session, when Motion 86 was first introduced and debated, then watch the Motion 86 debate and vote that happened during the June 30 evening session, at a time when Peter Bevan-Baker could ensure he’d get maximum media and public attention for his stunt (I’m being sarcastic here) you’ll see there’s absolutely nothing sincere in what the Premier is saying.
As far as legitimate arguments to vote down Motion 86? There aren’t any. That is, if you really want to get to the bottom of things, as the Premier and fellow Cabinet Ministers say over and over they want to do, but then betray the defining mark of hypocrisy and act as if they don’t believe what they say.
There was really only one argument or reason put forward by the Premier, and as you’ll see from the video clip response from Green MLA Lynn Lund, it was beyond ridiculous…it was, well…..TOTALLY HYPOCRITICAL and I’m sure a joke to every opposition MLA listening to his nonsense.
But before Premier King presented his big argument, the reason why he was – on principle – voting against the Motion, he first felt compelled to express his extreme disappointment and surprise with the Leader of the Opposition’s nasty partisan stunt.
1. The Premier’s Accusation that “Motion 86” Was a Political Stunt
Premier King began his speech using a time-tested technique: praise a person to the highest heaven for their integrity and good intentions, then express sadness and confusion over how such an outstanding person could have slipped back into the “dark side” of petty partisan politics:
I was going to put up a clip from Peter Bevan-Baker pointing out that it was Hon. Steven Myers who “called the question” and shut down debate – not the Greens, but take my word for it – or go watch and see for yourself. Yet the Premier lectures Peter as if the Greens shut down debate! Bizarro.
The Green’s luckily had the floor when Myers shut down debate – after he used up the lion’s share of the time himself -so after some clarification of the rules by the Speaker, the Greens were able to bring the Motion back for further debate.
For Premier King to have delivered such a passionate speech dressing down the Opposition for something his own Cabinet Minister did was, well, totally hypocritical.
2. “The Legislature Shouldn’t Dictate to Standing Committees”
Premier King’s passionate plea that the Greens stop trying to usurp the power of the independent Standing Committees – something he indicated they were trying to do by putting forward Motion 86 – was both ridiculous and again, completely hypocritical.
Ironically, earlier the same day the Legislative Assembly received a report back from the Standing Committee after the entire Legislative Assembly “dictated” that they meet to review an important Bill regarding whether the Legislative Assembly should support the Government’s seeking significantly-expanded powers during emergencies.
Premier King seemed oblivious to all of that, and the blatant and obvious “gap” between reality and the “principled” argument he was advancing as the basis for voting against Motion 86. Indeed, his own recent behaviour in the House suggesting and supporting matters for Standing Committees (with imposed timelines to report back to the Legislative Assembly) completely contradicted everything he said so passionately; again, complete hypocrisy. You’ll see that more clearly after hearing Green MLA’s articulate response to the Premier’s bizarre argument about not dictating to Standing Committees, which follows the video clip from the Premier:
The Premier’s pulpit-pounding speech was completely disingenuous – pure hypocrisy!
3. LET’S BE CLEAR: This is NOT about the Liberals Anymore!
Part of Premier King’s completely hypocritical speech was the predictable statements he made that he and all his PC Colleagues sincerely wanted to get to the bottom of things. But listen carefully to what he says about those “things”. In his mind, those things were all from years ago, from the previous two Liberal eras. Absolutely False:
The Privacy Commissioner’s report addressed decisions and actions taken by the King Government: actions that were illegal and bent on keeping secret knowledge the Government had that Brad Mix’s records had been deliberately destroyed. The Commissioner also confirmed that staff in Hon. Matthew MacKay’s department systematically deceived me and Paul Maines – and for a while, the Privacy Commissioner herself.
My most recent post titled, “DESTROYED EMAIL INVESTIGATION [Economic Growth (EGTC) Has To Sit This One Out!]” providing substantial evidence and argument why it is not appropriate that Minister MacKay and the Department of EGTC oversee the investigation recently announced as a third-party independent investigation.
Despite what the Premier says about “things” happening years ago, the very concerning events documented in the Commissioner’s Order that brought Motion 86 to the floor of the legislative Assembly all happened under the King Government’s tenure as Government. Again, everything the Premier said about needing to get answers to questions concerning events that happened years before he became Premier was a lie.
I’ve already presented a lot of documentation and evidence in previous articles of PC flip-flops and hypocrisy, especially with the 25 episodes highlighting the hypocrisy with each different PC MLA on various egaming issue ranging from the breach of the MOU to the deletion of Government records by Neil Stewart (still employed in the King Government by the way) and Robert Ghiz and many more. There’s no need to repeat all those conclusions exposing different aspects of the hypocrisy again in this article.
I’ll end by sharing an email I received from the Premier’s office exactly 3 hours before his speech on Motion 86 assuring us all that we can trust him and his government to be completely open and transparent on this file. That 4pm, June 30, 2020 email confirms another ILLEGAL breach of the FOIPP Act. It also signifies that the Premier is more or less thumbing his nose at the recent ruling by the Privacy Commissioner telling his Government to stop doing that to FOIPP applicants!
Like the Privacy Commissioner’s admonition of Government for refusing to provide me with critical information “up front” and freely to assist me getting copies of government records to which I am entitled as an Islander, Government is once again denying me this critical “upfront”information with a recent FOIPP request. Only this time it’s not Hon. Matthew’s Department of EGTC, it’s the Premier’s Office.
My final section of this article gives an update on my seemingly endless pursuit of an answer to one simple question: “Did someone delete Robert Ghiz’s records and is that being covered up like what happened with Brad Mix?” I’m ending this way so you’ll be able to put yourself in my shoes listening to Premier King wax wise and eloquent on forthrightness and open government when you’ve been given the Royal King runaround since Election Day. The hypocrisy with these claims and assurances comes with a gag-inducing potency for me.
4. Premier King’s Refusal to Answer one Simple Question!
I have been trying to answer a question for nearly two years: “Did someone delete Robert Ghiz’s records?” He provided none in the law suit, notwithstanding the fact that he is a Defendant – and a former Premier of Prince Edward Island. My search for an answer to that question started way back, when MacLachlan was still Premier.
I had discovered he had wasted no time at all after becoming Premier in deleting all of Ghiz’s electronic files and emails (within a month of being elected) so as to increase the efficiency, accuracy and speed of FOIPP searches I suspect (sarcasm).
On January 19, 2019, I published an article titled, “Breaking: New Court Document Confirms all Ghiz’s Electronic Records & Emails were Destroyed,” I had just obtained copies of some new documents that had been filed in the PEI Supreme Court, including the following Employee Record Removal Form for former Liberal Premier of PEI, Robert Ghiz:
This form confirmed that a premeditated and deliberate choice was made by Premier MacLauchlan to “delete” all Ghiz’s network files and emails. When that option is selected on the form, it’s against the law to do so without first copying and storing all the government records in the accounts – as was the case with Ghiz’s deletion of all his Chief-of-Staff’s (Chris LeClair’s) emails and network files. Were they retained for Robert Ghiz?
I put in a FOIPP request to answer that question on February 15, 2019 and was subsequently informed that I’d have to modify my search because the “keywords” I had chosen as the search criteria weren’t possible. Only paper records existed and I would need to submit “subjects” for file folder subject headings. There were apparently 18 banker boxes of paper records. My request for records should have produced copious amounts of records. The final response came back: “No records found.”
Paul Maines submitted a more recent FOIPP request for Ghiz documents, which I also wrote an article titled: “”GHIZ’S PEI GOVERNMENT RECORDS CONFIRMED MISSING: (New Review Launched with Information Commissioner).” That matter is still being reviewed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, but in a nutshell, he cast a very broad net asking for any Ghiz records in any format either from or to or that made mention of his Chief of Staff Chris LeClair – for the six months leading up to LeClair’s departure form Government in October, 2011. The result: “No records found”. Absolutely not possible.
Here is just one quote from the article I published on February 14, 2020 about Paul Maines’ FOIPP for Ghiz records:
What we now know for sure is that for the 6 month period leading up to his abrupt exit from the PEI Government:
LeClair had engaged in “insider trading” with an egaming investment, which he first denied in Court filings, then later admitted;
LeClair was a “Contact person” on the Innovation PEI “Virgin Gaming/FMT” Project team at Innovation PEI, the same project which LeClair had invested in; and
LeClair was not only a member of the Virgin Gaming/FMT project team but also the conduit of communication between the team members and Premier Ghiz on the FMT/Simplex initiative.
I published a more recent article (May 28, 2020) titled, “Things that make you go Hmmm….About Robert Ghiz’s Documents,” with additional information about this perplexing situation where the Government had told me in my request for Robert Ghiz’s records back in early 2019 that there were no electronic records but Judge Campbell stated in his CMT Dismissal Ruling that Ghiz’s electronic records had been kept intact. From that article:
“I went back and read the paragraph that Ms. Dickson had referenced in her first letter. Sure enough, the information contained in somewhat less than clear terms led to one conclusion: only paper files in boxes were going to be searched for the Ghiz documents I had asked for:
Where Ms. Dickson says “…performing a search of all emails” I later learned that only meant a search of “paper copies” of all emails. I wanted to confirm that there were no electronic files to search so I asked straight up and I got a straight-up answer: they were gone.”
When the Privacy Commissioner’s ruling on my Brad Mix request came out – joined with four of Paul Maines’ requests – there were many strong statements against Government on various issues; however, one statement in particular spoke volumes to me, confirming that the Commissioner regarded Government’s refusal to deal honestly with me from the outset of the FOIPP request regarding the status of records to search was a particularly egregious violation of section 8.1 of the Act:
Bolstered by this strong ruling that the failure to disclose information about the status of the records available to be search is a violation of section 8.1 of the FOIPP Act, I decided to submit another request for Ghiz’s records, only this time I was going to make sure there could be no misunderstanding that I first wanted information about the status of Ghiz’s records, especially given the contradictory information coming from Government and Judge Campbell.
Perhaps I overdid it a tad. But I wanted to make sure there was NO possibility anything could be misinterpreted concerning both my (1) request for an answer about the status of Ghiz’s records, and (2) the reasons I needed that information regarding the proper formulation of my request.
Kathyrn Dickson, the APSO worker who had handled my previous Ghiz Access Request and volunteered information about the status of Ghiz’s records so I would “Modify” the search criteria for my request based on the claim there were no electronic records were available to search.
Given Judge Campbell’s declaration I learned about subsequently, I now needed to know if that previous claim from Ms. Dickson was true in order to determine whether keywords or subject titles should be used in the wording of my search:I received a letter from Ms. Dickson, on June 26, 2020. It didn’t mention or so much as acknowledge that I had asked a question, but simply informed me that processing of the records had begun!I responded immediately, reiterating my need for information as to whether there were or were not electronic records for Robert Ghiz to search so I could clarify proper search criteria:
I received an email response from Ms. Dickson at exactly 4 pm on June 30, 2020, indicating that the search was proceeding – again, totally ignoring my request to put the FOIPP request on hold until I received the assistance to which I was entitled under the FOIPP Act. I got that email exactly 3 hours BEFORE PREMIER KING’S SPEECH where he said, “Though the events around this very troubling issue happened a number of years ago, Mr. Speaker, unanswered questions remain.”
To present a refusal to deal honestly with a FOIPP applicant by refusing to answer one simple question just 3 hours before attempting to sell the idea that the events in question happened “a number of years ago” is not only hypocritical, it’s devious.
This is what the law says is the way Government is supposed to treat FOIPP applicants:
That hasn’t yet been confirmed by the Information Commissioner of course, but if I don’t eventually get an answer from the Premier’s office to this question I’ll be filing a review with the Commissioner, and I’m certain he’ll rule once again that the Premier’s Office broke the law….again! Will there be any consequences. You bet you, I’ll get my $5 buck FOIPP application fee back and the Premier will be told once again to stop breaking the law.
After receiving that email from Ms. Dickson I responded as follows:
I’ll let you know if I receive an answer, or whether they decide to just carry on processing what I asked be put on hold until I receive information about the status of Robert Ghiz’s records.
Now that the veil of hypocrisy is rapidly being lifted from the King Government, and the Liberals have come to realize that the great threat to open democracy and accountability at the present time is not coming from the egaming ghosts of Liberal scandals past; no, they now lie squarely in the lap of the PC Government.
Now that the Green Party has witnessed firsthand the bizarre scrambling of Government Ministers and the Premier – like surprised critters scurrying in search of an escape hole to slip through and finding none – Green MLAs appear to be now legitimately interested in using all the powers of a Special Standing Committee to launch the kind of investigation that can succeed, something never before witnessed in PEI. The powers to compel witnesses will now have teeth, with Government unable to block that from happening.
The PC Government can now hope for one and only one thing: that the majority of Islanders who are currently still unaware of how the Government’s hypocritical position on these fundamental issues of open government, accountability and transparency will somehow remain blind to the fact that this Government has now been exposed as a bunch of hypocrites.
The writing is so on the wall with the Government as a result of this massive betrayal of the electorate in deference to a largely secretive but powerful insider club. After having to tolerate nearly a year of complete silence from the PC Government, they then quietly advanced as a Response to CMT’s Appeal a legal strategy identical to the previous Government’s, which they knew was entirely based on lies All to thwart justice in a judicial process to defeat CMT’s Appeal. They did that – and are continuing to do that – by blocking release of FOIPP documents, resulting in multiple breaches of the law, the last instance of which happened three hours before we were schooled by the Premier on his absolute dedication to being open with Islanders. Right. Got it.
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if an election was called in the Fall as a last ditch effort to capitalize on whatever support for the PC Government might remain in the general population. Their only remaining strategy is to keep as many people as possible from finding out the truth for as long as possible. But news will now start to rapidly trickle out among Islanders, and more and more people will soon come to realize just what happened with Motion 86.
A snap Fall election will be too late at any rate. With three PEI Supreme Court Contempt Orders now scheduled for August 10 & 11, 2020 [You’ll be able to get a code to watch on Zoom] along with a number of additional OIPC Orders soon to be released by the Information and Privacy Commissioner – Orders I’m confident will confirm more illegal FOIPP acts by the King Government – I’m also quite confident that there won’t be a voting Islander still unaware of the alarming breadth, depth and width of the King Government hypocrisy about its participation in corruption by the Fall.
The King Government had one last chance to come clean and admit complicity in the egaming and document destruction and/or withholding cover-up since becoming Government. That chance was Tuesday evening. They blew it.
It is now too late for redemption and as the continued facade of telling the truth when you’re lying, ducking and weaving to avoid questions, playing partisan games to delay or frustrate progress without being too obvious, continues in the absence of the humility and confession now warranted, this Government will look ever more impotent and ridiculous. It will not come out of the next election with the reins of Government.
Peter Bevan-Baker said he was genuinely confused about the hypocrisy that, as he put it, spun him in circles while at the same time it was tying up the Government in pretzels. Peter Bevan-Baker characterized the bizarre nature of how the Government behaved in response to Motion 86 so nicely I’m going to give him the last word: