It’s been more than 2 years since I decided to request government records from former Premier, Robert Ghiz through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP).
During the past 2 years, I’ve submitted 2 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, each designed with broad search parameters to answer one question: “Were Robert Ghiz’s emails and files deleted?”
With each FOI request, I received a final response letter from the Premier’s Office informing me that after a diligent and thorough search [for which I paid dearly by way of a deposit] the result was: “No records found.”
I was lied to with my first FOI request for Ghiz documents by the APSO Manager, but unfortunately only discovered that when Judge Gordon Campbell issued his Ruling on the CMT lawsuit on October 16, 2019, which was past the 6-month period allowed in the FOIPP Act to initiate a review of a FOI decision with the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
I certainly wasn’t about to miss my chance to finally have the Commissioner investigate Ghiz’s illusive records with my 2nd Ghiz FOI request!
Fast-Forward to the Present
Paul Ledwell is now trying to convince me and the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Denise Doiron, that there never were any Ghiz records for the very broad scope of my request. I believe he’s lying. I want to know if you also believe he’s lying, so I included a simple poll near the end of article.
I wasn’t expecting to get any records in my second Ghiz FOI request to be honest. Why? Because I don’t believe there are any Ghiz records for that infamous 2-year period [2010 -2012] characterized by two coincidental and curious comingling series of events:
- Egaming, and negotiations between CMT/FMT and the PEI government were happening, but later denied happened by Defendants in the CMT lawsuit, and;
- The discovery of the deletion of government emails and records with multiple bureaucrats and politicians who had been involved with either egaming and/or negotiations between CMT/FMT and the PEI government.
The Information Commissioner is already deliberating on a Ghiz FOI review for which submissions are closed – not mine. It’s a review initiated by Paul Maines after he also received a “No records found” response from Paul Ledwell. I’ll say a few things more about that in a minute.
I am just about to submit my final submission to Ms. Doiron in response to Paul Ledwell’s last, and likely final, submission to the Information Commissioner, a copy of which I received last Friday and include near the end of the article, it’s a doozy!
(a) Same Old, Same Old
When I asked former Commissioner Rose to review my Brad Mix FOI request, Deputy Ministers David Keedwell [under former Liberal Premier MacLauchlan] and Erin McGrath-Gaudet [under Present Progressive Conservative Premier King] each covered-up the truth and fed lies to both me, Paul Maines [who had 4 FOI reviews joined to my initial review, becoming Applicant #2 in the Brad Mix Order] and the Commissioner. – for months. In the end they got caught and were exposed by Karen Rose’s diligent investigation and final Order, although there hasn’t been any consequences for either senior bureaucrat to date. Go figure.
I still grimace at the sheer audacity of Keedwell’s put-down lies against me he tried to sell to Ms. Rose in his letters time and time again; consider one example.
Keedwell’s April 25, 2019 letter to the Commissioner argued that she should completely discount my baseless “speculations” about why there should be records, knowing the whole time that he typed each letter that all the Brad Mix documents that I was asking for had already been illegally deleted:
(b) A Question to Deputy Minister Keedwell and One to Premier King
Dear Mr. Keedwell: “What would you consider “respectful” about lying your face off in the exercising your duty as a senior public servant, so as to hide the truth and break the law in the interest of aiding and abetting a cover-up of a corrupt scandal?”
Dear Premier King: “Why is David Keedwell still a Deputy Minister in your government?”
Keedwell and McGrath-Gaudet got caught by Karen Rose.
Will Paul Ledwell get caught by Denise Doiron?
Ms. Rose did the trailblazing and set the precedent, so I’m confident Ms. Doiron will know what to do and travel the same path Ms. Rose bushwhacked.
1. Meet the Bureaucrats Handling All Ghiz FOI Requests and Reviews
All of the communications and correspondence that I received on the “FOI request” side of my hunt for Ghiz records was with Kathryn Dickson, other than the final response letter, which came from Paul Ledwell on behalf of Premier King.
All the correspondence that I received from the Public Body (e.g., King Government) on the “Commissioner’s Review” side of my hunt for Ghiz records has been with Paul Ledwell, who also sent the final response letters on both of my Ghiz FOI requests.
These are the two senior bureaucrats handling all requests for Ghiz records, so we should know a little bit more about them don’t you think?
(a) Kathryn Dickson
Kathryn Dickson has been the Provincial Manager of the Access and Privacy Services Office (APSO) for more than 11 yrs. The job description she has on her LinkedIn account doesn’t say anything about processing files, so it looks like someone decided to bring in the big guns when I went looking for Ghiz records:
“The Provincial Manager provides government-wide policy advice and supports regarding the operation of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) Act and related legislation, regulations, policies and procedures. The Manager also makes recommendations and provides advice on government-wide practices, amendments to the legislation and other requests; and assists FOIPP coordinators in each public body with training, advice, policies and procedures and coordinates the operation of the FOIPP Act within the department.”
(b) Paul Ledwell
Paul Ledwell is Premier Dennis King’s right-hand man. Before that, he was Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s right-hand man.
Why would Premier King keep the same right-hand man in this powerful position when his entire Cabinet challenged most of the policies and programs of the Liberal government as the Official Opposition for the four years when Ledwell was at the helm under MacLauchlan?
Why would Premier King keep the person supporting the fraudulent legal defence advanced by the Liberal government in the CMT lawsuit his PC team attacked mercilessly as the Official Opposition as undemocratic, illegal, and unethical on a daily basis in the Legislative Assembly?
Those policies, positions and programs were largely the “work product” of Paul Ledwell’s genius operating as the principal architect and supporter of everything MacLauchlan announced and put forth to Islanders. Same under King.
The myriad of deals and connections and contacts in the Insider Club controlling the government in PEI were all adopted lock, stock and barrel by Dennis King when he became premier, without question.
When Premier King decided to keep the core Liberal insider bureaucrats in place [Neil Stewart, David Keedwell, Paul Ledwell, etc.] Ledwell’s embeddedness in the same network operating under MacLauchlan was viewed only as an asset, not a liability, as his government website bio attests:
“Throughout his career, Paul has established an extensive network of leaders in all sectors, with whom he collaborates regularly.”
2. But Why No Robert Ghiz Records….Anywhere?
I am not the only person who has asked for Robert Ghiz records from that same critical 2-year egaming period [2010-2012], the same period of time when so many other government employees either had all their records deleted or for whom “gaps” were discovered which have yet to be investigated.
When I first began looking into this matter of Ghiz’s elusive records, I learned that an Investigator hired by Capital Markets Technologies (CMT) had tried to get Ghiz records in a FOI in 2014.
(a) May 13, 2014 – Bruce MacDonald’s Ghiz FOI Request: “No Records Found”
When Capital Markets Technologies and Paul Maines were hit with a Securities Investigation, a Private Investigator was contracted by CMT (RB Mac Consultants) to investigate the matter, a retired RCMP Officer, Bruce MacDonald. He submitted a number of FOIPP requests to the PEI government, one of which was for Robert Ghiz records. This was the final response he received:
There should have been records responsive to this request; however, as I learned from Ghiz’s Cross-examination transcript, that man apparently has a fair bit of trouble with recall, including, for example, when he first heard about CMT/FMT.
Ghiz said he couldn’t recall when he first heard about CMT/FMT, but was certain it wasn’t until after his Chief-of-Staff, Chris LeClair, had already exited Government in October 2011. That was a lie. CMT’s lawyer John MacDonald read from Ghiz’s sworn Affidavit, then asked him when he had first heard about CMT and FMT (764):
No knowledge of CMT or FMT before October 19, 2011? How is that even possible? Robert Ghiz participated in the major “Get to know CMT/FMT and the Secret Financial Transaction Platform Project” event at Crowbush in May 2011.
Chris LeClair was involved in organizing that event with Paul Jenkins, the sole director of FMT at the time, and delivering briefing notes to the Premier on FMT – 6 months before LeClair left Government.
CMT’s private investigator was actually asking for records associated with another meeting that took place in the Premier’s office on February 9 and 10, 2012 – where documents show a PowerPoint on the Simplex Global Transaction Platform Project was presented.
No review with the Information Commissioner was launched with this FOI.
(b) CMT Court Case Filings – “No Ghiz Records”
It seemed very puzzling to me that there were no apparent records belonging to Robert Ghiz in the CMT court filings. After learning that, I decided to file a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for records from Robert Ghiz. I wanted to see if he might be the fourth (4th) government employee who had their records deleted during the same critical 2-year period when CMT/FMT were in a business relationship with the PEI government, which the PEI government and the named Defendants were denying. That was mid-late 2018.
(c) January 2019 – My First FOI Request: “No Records Found”
I won’t bog you down with detail, but after having been told by the APSO worker, Ms. Kathryn Dickson, that all of Ghiz’s electronic records had been deleted and the FOI search would have to be of file “subject headings” rather than keywords, I was surprised to read in Judge Campbell’s ruling that Ghiz’s electronic records had been retained – or at least that’s what Jonathan Coady with Stewart McKelvey law firm told him, which he apparently accepted to be true. If Ghiz’s electronic records had not been deleted, why had I been told there were no electronic records to search?
There were requests for extensions – as there were with the Brad Mix FOI – which was suspicious, then I received a final response letter with the following information:
Paul Ledwell’s statement that “an electronic search of the former Premier’s email account performed by the Senior Advisor” was bizarre, given that I had been told by the APSO worker that no electronic search was possible and was forced to change my far-more precise “key word” submission to a far-much general short-list of “subject headings”.
I believed the APSO worker, Ms. Dickson, that there were no electronic records available to search because I had an official copy of the Employee Removal Form for Robert Ghiz dated May, 2015 saying that all of Ghiz’s government-owned electronic emails, email account, network files and documents, and network accounts had been deleted. I obtained that document from the Court filings, and noted that CMT had mentioned it in its Statement of Claim.
I assumed that Paul Ledwell mentioned searching emails as part of his standard response, and that he either (1) didn’t know that the electronic emails and files had been deleted, or (2) didn’t realize that Ms. Dickson had told me there were no electronic files, or (3) and that I had obtained a copy of Ghiz’s form saying they had been deleted and put those words in the response letter because they are the words used in all the response letters informing applicants of the particulars of the search that was undertaken to find no records.
(d) October 16, 2018 – Judge Campbell: “Ghiz’s Records Exist”
It was a surprise to say the least to read in Judge Campbell’s CMT ruling the following paragraph:
Paragraph 626: Also in Maines’ 2019 affidavit he alleged that the emails and records of Ghiz were deleted on May 29, 2015, which he maintains is evidence of “bad faith” litigation and further confirming evidence of “misfeasance in public office”. In fact, Ghiz’s emails were never deleted. The email account of Ghiz was copied and preserved the day after the initial statement of claim in this matter was filed. That was done notwithstanding i) Ghiz was not a party to the action in 2015 (he was added some 3 years later), and ii) counsel for the plaintiffs did not identify Ghiz as having any relevant documents for the purpose of the litigation.” (My Emphasis).
The 6-month window to be able to commence a review of a FOI with the Information Commissioner had expired with my previous FOI request for Ghiz records, so I
was not able to file a review with the Commissioner challenging the information that I had been provided by Ms. Dickson that there were no electronic Ghiz records to search, relying on paragraph 626 in Judge Campbell’s ruling.
I decided I’d try to answer the question once and for all with another very broad FOI
request that would cast a very wide net – knowing it would likely cost me in search time, which it did, , but I was determined to finally answer the
question I’d been trying to answer for nearly 2 years: “Were some or all of Robert Ghiz’s official government records deleted?”
(e) December 9, 2019 – Maines’ Ghiz FOI Request: “No Records Found”
Paul Maines submitted a FOIPP request for Ghiz documents, which was received by the Premier’s Office (PO) on December 9, 2019. The APSO Coordinator in the PO then wrote to Maines on January 10, 2020, indicating that a time extension was required, and that the new response date would be February 7, 2020:
The Premier’s Office sent Maines a final response letter on February 3, 2020, indicating that no records had been found:
Unlike my request for Premier Ghiz’s egaming records using three “subject headings,” Maines’ request was very broad, asking for ANY records mentioning either Paul Jenkins or his own Chief of Staff, Chris LeClair for the ENTIRE last 6 months LeClair was in the Premier’s Office. The Premier’s Office only searched a “list” with my request, but with Maines’ FOIPP the search was with the actual “…archived files including correspondence and reports dated from May 1, 2011, to November 1, 2011.”
In Court documents filed with the PEI Supreme Court associated with the CMT
lawsuit, I read about Paul Maine’s attempts to also access records from the former
Premier, in particular, in a FOIPP request (PO 2019- 285) seeking:
“All records in any form of Robert Ghiz sent to or received by Shane MacEachern or make mention of Paul Jenkins or Chris LeClair. Time Period: May 1, 2011 to November 1, 2011”
Section 8 of the FOIPP Act requires the public body to explain to the applicant why records that were once in the possession of the public body are no longer in the possession of the public body. Maines immediately filed a review with the Information Commissioner’s on November 8, 2020 and the Information Commissioner has since notified the Premier’s Office that an OIPC review on this FOIPP is underway:
As previously noted, an Order on this Review is pending.
3. My GHIZ FOI Request #2: “No Records Found”
In late June, 2020 I decided to make another attempt to get a Robert Ghiz document through a FOI request. Only this time I was going to close every possible crack with a VERY detailed FOI request that would be certain to produce records presuming they had not been deleted or otherwise made to go bye-bye.
Unlike any other FOI request that I had previously filed, given the contradictory messages I had received whether Ghiz’s electronic files existed or not, I sought confirmation from Kathryn Dickson whether there were or were not electronic records to search before I could properly word my FOI request. There is a categorical difference between how records are searched in boxes and how they are searched in computers and electronic archives.
It took weeks and many back and forth emails, but I finally received written confirmation that my search would involve a search of Robert Ghiz’s emails and electronic documents. The wording of my amended FOI request was as follows:
I won’t report on the long, complicated back-and-forth exchanges between me and Ms. Dickson on the issue of whether there were electronic records to search. I was finally informed that both paper AND electronic records would be searched.
I received a letter from Ms. Dickson with a “fee estimate” which immediately made me think that there must be lots of records to search, so I decided not to go out-of-pocket $60.00 which was the requested deposit. Then as the 60-day period after which the file would be closed had just a few days left, it occurred to me that if Ghiz had no records, they’d want me to think he did so I’d stop looking, maybe, so although I was thinking I was likely throwing $60 in the wind, I decided to send the darn cheque. I’m glad I did.
November 24, 2020: My Letter to Information Commissioner
I wrote to the Information Commissioner on November 24, 2020 requesting a review of my last Ghiz FOI request. The only issue I wanted her to tackle was that I was not provided records that I believed should exist, and that I was not provided a reasonable explanation as to why records that should exist no longer apparently exist:
December 7, 2020 Letter from Commissioner to Paul Ledwell
I was happy to see that she was asking for an explanation for there being no responsive records to my request.
January 13, 2021: Email from Information Commissioner
I only ever had the Public Body request more time to respond to the Commissioner with one other review: Brad Mix. That told me that Ledwell was likely having some difficulty with wordsmithing. It’s tricky not telling the truth and still sounding like you are when anything presented but the truth makes you look like an idiot.
Senior public servants should abandon the use of the word “respectfully” when making ridiculous claims based on nothing but the hope the truth will be impossible to discover:
So there you have it – Paul Ledwell requested additional time to write that letter to craft that killer sentence reminiscent of David Keedwell’s equally bold claim that the Information Commission ignore my baseless speculations: “The public body respectfully submits that care should be taken not to speculate about the existence of records when a reasonable search has been conducted,” based the the following argument:
Premise #1: All Robert Ghiz’s Records are in tack and were searched thoroughly; Premise #2: No records were found using the Applicants search parameters;
THEREFORE: It logically must follows, and must be the case that any and all allegations that Ghiz records should exist, but don’t, are illogical, baseless speculations.
And of course that argument is bulletproof sound if – and this is a big “if” – one condition is met – Ledwell in not lying. Is he?
It’s my turn to respond to Ledwell which I’ll be doing in a day or two.
I’m confident Ledwell will have nothing more to say to the Commissioner, so my letter will likely be the final word by way of input before she completes her investigation and writes her Order.
I haven’t drafted anything yet, but will definitely be including the following points for her consideration, since Ms. Doiron definitely needs a head’s up about the working relationship Rory Beck had with Robert Ghiz, saying in her letter to Paul Ledwell: “We have no knowledge of the working relationship between the former Premier and the named employee…”
So I’ll be sharing the following information for sure.
(a) Responsive Records from the April 14-31, 2012 FOI Scope
Rory Beck died on April 14, 2012. My FOI request extended two weeks past that date to April 31, 2012. It is not reasonable to believe on the balance of probabilities that Rory Beck’s name was not mentioned in any emails, text messages, Black Berry Messages, documents or any message sent by any other end-to-end technology or app as I had specifically requested in my FOI request.
It is simply preposterous to believe there would not be a single responsive record to my FOI request during this period of time; Paul Ledwell is asking the Commissioner to believe that his name never appeared on anything Robert Ghiz wrote, sent or received in the 17 days following his passing. I would expect that there would be innumerable matters relating to work as Clerk of Executive Council requiring the mention of Beck’s name; all his active files, expressions of condolences, etc.
(b) Responsive Records: December 11, 2011 – April 14, 2012 FOI Scope
It is also completely inconceivable to me that Rory Beck’s name would not have been mentioned in any emails either sent or received by Robert Ghiz in the 5 1/2 months preceding his death on April 14, 2012, given his close personal relationship with Premier Ghiz, and the essential, intimate, and daily involvement of Beck in every Cabinet discussion and decision.
This is how the Guardian article reporting Beck’s death began:
“One of Premier Robert Ghiz’s senior advisers, a man described as the P.E.I. premier’s right-hand man, died suddenly on Friday. Rory Beck was clerk of the executive council and secretary to cabinet. Not a single decision passed through Ghiz’s cabinet without getting Beck’s stamp of approval.“
It is not necessary to draw definitive conclusions at this juncture. As the former Information and Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose wrote in Paragraph 45 of her Brad Mix Order on my and Paul Maine’s joint review:
That’s what I wanted in my request for a review on my Brad Mix FOI and I got it. That’s what I expect from our present Information Commissioner Denise Doiron.
So let’s recap to wrap things up:
- No Ghiz records filed in court…check!
- No Ghiz records for the dates of a major event at the Premier’s office (Bruce MacDonald)….check!
- No Ghiz records for the entire 6 months leading up to the departure of Chris LeClair as Ghiz’s Chief of Staff in October 2011, mentioning LeClair, Paul Jenkins, or Shane MacEachern for that same 6 month period (Paul Maines)….check!
- No Ghiz records that make mention of Capital Markets Technology; Paul Maines, or Bruce MacDonald (Kevin A.)….check!
- No Ghiz records that make mention of Rory Beck for the 5 1/2 months leading up to his death, and the 17 days following his death (Kevin A.)……check!
It is simply not believable that Rory Beck’s name would not appear on the “sent” or “received” line or in the text body of any Ghiz email or document for six months for Chris LeClair in 2011, nor for the last 6 months of Beck’s tenure as Clerk of Executive Council in 2012.
I’ll be asking Ms. Doiron to contact ITSS and request that they provide her with written confirmation regarding the precise status of Robert Ghiz’s electronic and paper records to finally answer the question whether they exist, or whether, like Brad Mix, we’ll end up discovering a 2-year “gap”.
Godspeed Ms. Doiron! Godspeed!!