WHY IS THE RECORDS COMMITTEE AFRAID TO ASK GHIZ AND STEWART TO APPEAR?
Minister of Finance Darlene Compton, and Information and Technology Shared Services Chief Operating Officer, Tracy Wood, will be appearing before the Special Committee on Records Retention tomorrow at 2 pm (Friday November 20, 2020).
Ms. Wood knows the truth about the ITSS record deletion policy in place when Robert Ghiz ordered Chris LeClair’s records to be deleted by ITSS. She has information about Neil Stewart’s directions to ITSS to do the same with Melissa MacEachern’s records – delete them all.
Ms. Woods knows that government records have to be retained for the provincial archives, as per the requirements in the Provincial Archives and Records Act and Treasury Board Policy. She’s probably also aware that Judge Campbell’s initial ruling – and the Supreme Court’s subsequent ruling – both ignored the most important thing she actually said about record deletion by ITSS. But I have a hunch no one’s going to ask her anything about Robert Ghiz or Neil Stewart tomorrow.
The Supreme Court (and then the Appeal Court) gave Robert Ghiz and Neil Stewart “get out of jail free” cards in advance, but in doing so, the Judges misrepresented the truth (as well as Ms. Wood’s evidence given on behalf of ITSS).
Will anyone on the Committee ask Ms. Wood whether she believes the manner in which the two Courts interpreted the information was fair and accurate? Is she happy that the information she provided was used in such a way as to establish a new legal precedent that supersedes our provincial legislation…a judicial ruling sure to eventually cause ripples across the country? A ruling completely exonerating Ghiz and Stewart for torching their top employee’s files? I wonder how Ms. Wood felt when Brad Mix boldly suggested to the members of the Special Committee on records retention that they should get a briefing on the new precedent?
What exactly was that precedent? The courts ruled that the manner in which Robert Ghiz and Neil Stewart had their employee’s records deleted – without first backing them up, or otherwise retaining them for the provincial archives – is now apparently to be regarded as “standard practice” and the normal course of doing business with respect to the disposal of employee records within government departments.
I want to hear someone on the Committee ask Ms. Wood’s opinion of the Court’s ruling? Does ITSS no longer require confirmation of records being backed up as a result of the ruling? A new “checks and balances” measure supposedly implemented after the initial scandal of deleted records broke back in 2016, before the court rulings).
Or is ITSS now following the legal ruling of PEI’s highest court that says there’s apparently nothing untoward or illegal about deleting 100% of an employee’s records – even senior employee records like chief-of-staffs and Deputy Ministers – without first retaining them.
The members of the Committee should ask Ms. Wood point blank if she accepts what Judge Campbell wrote in his ruling regarding her position and evidence on the matter, whether it was accurate – but I already know the answer she’d likely give, unless she changes her story from the one she gave CMT’s lawyer during her brief, sworn, cross-examination testimony.
CMT’s counsel, John MacDonald, really only had one question for Ms. Wood. He wanted to put it on the official record for the Court what the Scott Cudmore (with ITSS) had previously told members of the Public Accounts Committee when he appeared on February 1, 2017:
Scott Cudmore: “.…the assumption on the part of IT Shared Services at the time was that records had been retained according to records management policy” [Public Accounts Committee, February 1, 2017, p 106].
Tracy Wood’s short cross-examination transcript was one question:
Will anyone even ask Ms. Wood about Robert Ghiz’s deletion of Chris LeClair’s electronic records and emails, and just how “normal” it really was? I’m betting not…never going to happen.
If committee members really wanted to know why Robert Ghiz did what he did – and why it’s apparently o.k. for a Premier of this province to then simply laugh it off saying he didn’t read what he signed – well, they would have invited Robert Ghiz to the committee. Instead, they invited Tracy Wood, who likely only learned about the records not being backed up after they were deleted by her ITSS staff; and Chris LeClair, whose records weren’t deleted until he left government.
They should have also invited Neil Stewart who deleted the records, not Melissa MacEachern who had her records deleted after she left government, as was the case with Chris LeClair.
No, I’m sorry to say that it’s all a save-face, dog-and-pony show now folks.
The members have ripped the rear-view mirror right off the committee’s windshield and kicked things into overdrive to get to the finish line to file a report before the House closes. They are done like dinner when it comes to looking behind them.
What a disappointment and missed opportunity eh? I doubt that Robert Ghiz’s name will even be mentioned – despite the fact that it was entirely the information and evidence provided to the court by Tracy Wood (on behalf of the ITSS Department in government) that lies at the root of things. It was that information upon which Judge Campbell established the new legal precedent saying it’s now o.k. to destroy your employee’s records after they leave their jobs.
Nope – tomorrow Ghiz will be the “name that must not be spoken.”
What do you think?