What a great April Fool’s prank the Premier played on me this year. Wow! So elaborate and well-thought out. I have to give it to him for cleverness and execution…I honestly didn’t see it coming, and I was looking. Let me explain.
I wasn’t planning to do a post today, but I really have to share this with you.
I was set up to believe that what happened today WOULD NOT happen, indeed, COULD NOT happen, through a whole series of assurances and promises that I won’t go into in great detail, but will note the Premier’s swan song final play this past Tuesday afternoon in the House.
You see, the Premier was aware that his government had to respond to my request for information on the ‘gaps’ and extent of missing records in a number of email archive accounts any day now, including Wes Sheridan. Surely, given what the Premier said Tuesday in the House, his need to respond to that very sensitive request could not have been far from his mind. Given that context, how could anyone interpret what the Premier said in any way other than a decision to provide me with that long-sought information?
As well, the law states that I have a legal right to that information and the government has a legal obligation to provide me with it.
But that’s the difference between a just “so-so” April Fool’s prank and a real zinger. Man o Man, the Premier hit the zinger zone this year!
The former Commissioner’s Brad Mix ruling (which we’re all sick of hearing about I know) made one critical point over and over again, in various ways, each way expressing a different sentiment (surprise, shock, dismay, etc.) concerning the government’s decision to NOT provide FROM THE VERY OUTSET information to the applicant (me) about the missing records.
Ms. Rose said she was at a loss to explain the motivation….well, it could have had something to do with the coverup of crimes and the fact that the worse penalty for anyone getting caught and having to take the medicine is to abide by an Order from the Commissioner to return my $5…but that’s just a theory.
Although still at the rumour stage, I hear that the Premier has instituted a “take a $5, leave a $5” campaign in the departments. Also unverified.
Notwithstanding the scathing indictment of government by the former Commissioner for bold-faced lying to Islanders seeking government records and withholding INFORMATION (not records) about missing records or “gaps,” if you read my latest FOI-related article you’ll know that I’ve already reported that this same withholding of information on gaps and missing records has already happened more than once SINCE that ruling last summer.
After I got my hands on a copy of that ITSS letter from the Premier’s Office (Cindy Harris) to the Special Committee on Records (now defunct) with confirmation that there were “gaps” (Ed Malone indicated those “gaps” meant “missing records” in his testimony to the Committee) for several people [I provided extensive background material on this in my last article on the Special Committee titled: “The Anatomy of a Cover-up of a Cover-up: What Government Corruption Looks Like from the Inside”], I had what I needed to get what I needed: information about those gaps and missing records, with all the promises and precedents in hand.
The FOI requests were essentially all the same, except for the different employee names and departments involved. I asked for any records that were either to, from or that mentioned Brad Mix, for the entire 5-year period available in that segregated email archive environment created by ITSS back in the summer of 2015, in that way ensuring that the period with a gap or gaps would be covered.
I then specifically asked for that “first thing” that the FOI applicant is supposed to receive when there are gaps or missing records, namely: INFORMATION ABOUT THOSE GAPS AND MISSING RECORDS.
I was thinking that I’d be getting response letters to those FOIs soon [this week maybe] so I’ve been checking the mail, not at all sure what I’d end up receiving [they’re full of surprises those APSO people] but feeling pretty confident that I’d get important and substantial information.
But then Tuesday afternoon of this week clinched it for me. After I heard Premier King during Question Period, I couldn’t help but conclude that he was speaking boldly on the very issue and point I was all bent out of shape thinking they were going to try to find a way around. You can’t really blame me for being suspicious, given what they’ve put me through, so far, but with (1) the Commission’s strong Order, (2) my foreknowledge of the gaps and missing records and (3) and a very targeted request for that information, odds were definitely on my side if there’s anything at all left of justice in our democracy.
What Premier King said Tuesday afternoon in the House was very encouraging [you can probably guess at this point why I’m pretty impressed with the Premier’s well thought-out play that really did “prank me,” as they say]:
What’s up with the Premier’s shoes? If there was something down there that was more interesting than making eye-contact with the camera or other MLAs that someone might know about, please message me. Just curious.
One of those letters that I was expecting any day was a request for documents from the Premier’s Office, so that really sealed it for me. I mean, how else could a reasonable person interpret the Premier putting the highlighted statements in the quote below (part of what you just listened to in the clip) on the official Hansard Record?
At this point, I was certain I’d be getting details on the “gaps” and the extent of all those missing records that should have been produced by Jonathan Coady in the CMT lawsuit but were never mentioned, as of course is required under the Rules of Civil Procedure.
But each time I’d check the mail this week, the doubts would creep back in and I’d wonder if maybe Premier King actually did say all that good stuff just to set me up for great big April Fool’s prank before Easter. I was having a hard time believing years of secrecy and lies was suddenly coming to an end.
I then again considered that risk-benefit analysis and the sad fact that the severest penalty for breaking the law is a stiff Order from the Commissioner to return my $5 refund, but then I reminded myself that Premier King was not pressured to go so far out on that branch in his response to the FOI question, but chose to do so voluntarily.
After debating with myself on both sides, I concluded it would make NO sense on any level for someone wanting to stay in politics to say what the Premier said, if he really meant what he said, and was telling the truth – which, when you think of it, is a pretty weak concession in and of itself: “Ok, ok….we’ll start following the law”. In fact the only reason I could think of that could possibly explain not getting that information is if I was set up by the Premier with an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank. That would be just crazy. Nope. I was finally getting some real goods!
Got three letters today and they all said the same thing:
APRIL FOOLS SUCKA!
Turns out the Premier isn’t going to give me any of that information about missing records despite the exasperated statements by the former Commissioner and his statements on Tuesday documented in Hansard [sad face emoji].
There’s some loophole lingo about the FOI Act providing “records” not “information” that provided an escape hatch for the crew member handling this file in their sinking FOI ship, just as the water was hitting the ceiling in the cabin. Wow.
How foolish do I feel? Very foolish actually. I guess that’s why they gave that designation to the victims of such pranks executed on the 1st of April every year… so embarrassed.
“Any information that is legally to be provided, we do. We’re bound by law to do that and we do.”
Of course you do Mr. Premier….of course you do.
I really have to give it to you Mr. Premier…..you got me good…..REAL GOOD!