DENYING ACCESS: “IT’S WHAT WE DO!”
On Tuesday (January 21, 2020), nearly 4 years ago, I posted an article on my previous website titled King Government Continues Breaking FOIP Law with 6th “Deemed Refusal.” The following morning, I received an email from the APSO worker in Minister MacKay’s Department with the following letter, signed by Deputy Minister Erin McGrath-Gaudet.
Whoever drafted the letter obviously knew they had to send me a letter to satisfy the Minister and Deputy Minister who were feeling some heat from my post.
The claim that “…a search by the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture failed to retrieve any records related to the subject of your request” immediately raises the question? “If there were no responsive records, why wasn’t that information communicated to me from the outset, before the Department went beyond the legal deadline to even respond?”
The “response” was clearly a knee-jerk and probably panicked response that amounted to another “non-response”. Yet another step creating additional work for both me and the Information Commissioner, and of course, further delay.
Immediately after receiving the response from Ms. McGrath-Gaudet I filed a request for a review with the Information Commissioner in place at the time, Karen Rose:
The Information and Privacy Commissioner also responded to Ms. McGrath-Gaudet, essentially saying “You had one job to do……and you didn’t do it!” although, in a far more professional and formal style of writing than I’d be inclined to use at this juncture.
I wondered at the time whether the Deputy Minister, Ms. McGrath-Gaudet, even realized what she was even signing…..a letter that was, quite frankly, an admission that they didn’t do what they were supposed to do, but by forcing me to invoke the Commissioner to compel the Department to do what it should have done in the first place, the Department succeeded in avoiding giving me any public egaming documents to which I was entitled under the law.
Once again, they kicked the can down the road on this particular access request, like they’ve done on so many others of mine, and are still dong.
I’ll be putting out some further articles in the days and weeks ahead to bring the public up to speed on the status of some VERY important FOIPP requests still be delayed, with no production of important records, despite now YEARS having passed.
This is not inefficiency, it is deliberate, orchestrated strategy and facet of the incipient corruption that has seized control of our democracy in PEI.
These are games being played daily by workers in the Premier Dennis King PC government on virtually EVERY access request – defer, delay and deny.
What was – before he became Premier – a promise finally that government transparency would finally happen in PEI has become a smug pattern of delay and denial of records with an unspoken “Hey, it’s what they do!” – a unseeable but felt message written into and embedded in their equally-smug smiles.