Kudos to Deputy Minister Erin McGrath-Gaudet!

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I have not posted on e-gaming for quite some time, due to delays by the former Premier and Liberal government (RIP) frustrating my efforts to get access to information on e-gaming records from government.

In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I’m publishing this short article as a genuine, heartfelt expression of appreciation to the new Deputy Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture, Erin McGrath-Gaudet, for her honest answers provided in her most recent letter to the Information Commissioner in a key e-gaming Access to Information review which I initiated in January, 2019, and is still ongoing. I expect a written Order from the Commissioner within a few months.

I’ll need to provide you with just a bit of background, but I’ll avoid making a deep-dive into a fascinating story of how a simple request for documents (that the Liberal government knew at the time I submitted my request had been deleted, and could have told me in a second) turned into an 8-month make-work project generating a 2-inch file.

Why I asked for Brad Mix E-gaming Records

After reviewing all the affidavits in the e-gaming lawsuit in late 2018, I decided to file several targeted Access to Information requests.  One  issue that struck me as particularly important was that the CMT lawyer was making reference after reference in his oral argument and Affidavit Exhibits to missing emails from Brad Mix.

All relevant documents should have been disclosed to CMT’s lawyer by the government – and CMT had been told that they had been – but given evidence of e-gaming meetings in which Brad Mix participated, it didn’t make sense there were no documents from him.  So I decided to ask government myself with an Access request.

Unlike the email accounts of  Melissa MacEachern, Rory Beck and Chris LeClair who vacated their positions (which the Auditor General reported in her 2016 e-gaming report had all been deleted) Brad Mix has held the same position at Innovation PEI for over a decade.  How could his emails be missing unless some unauthorized person decided to delete them?

Why I Asked the Information Commissioner to Review the File

I received a few calendar entries from Brad Mix’s GroupWise Account with my Access request, but no emails, email attachments, or hard-copy files for that matter; so I wrote to the Information Commissioner in January, 2019 asking if she would review the file.

I know the Commissioner has already put in many, many hours on this file; and since last October, I’ve personally put in at least 100 hours researching and preparing documentation, etc., which has mostly been responses to written materials submitted to the Commissioner by the Department.

With multiple requests for time extensions to undertake more thorough searches, I would never have dreamed in a million years that during the entire past six months the Department (and Brad Mix) knew from the get-go that all the records for the time period in my Access request had been deleted, and that was known by them since 2015. 

I’ve wasted countless hours of my time over this, and was completely frustrated in my e-gaming investigative work, all on account of the former Liberal government’s stonewalling and lies. 

The July 10, 2019 letter from Ms. McGrath-Gaudent provided answers to seven (7) hard questions from the Commissioner, and the Deputy Minister managed to accomplish something which the Liberals promised but were unable to do during their entire 4-year tenure: tell Islanders the truth. 

Ms. McGrath-Gaudet somehow compelled Mr. Mix to answer the questions directed at and about him honestly, no matter what the consequences might be; and given the nature of the revelations, I expect there will no doubt be some consequences. 

In particular, read the response Ms. McGrath-Gaudet provided to question six from the Commissioner:

#6.    Did you interview Brad Mix relating to these missing records?  If so, did he provide an explanation for the missing emails?  E.g Did these time periods correspond with a change of position for Mr. Mix, or a period of   absence from work?

Answer:

          “Mr. Mix reports that in 2015 he was looking through his archive for emails.  It   was at this time he discovered that emails in his archive for periods of time  appeared to be missing.  Mr. Mix states that he did not understand what  had happened as he could not locate emails for many files and contacts throughout  2011 and 2012.  Although Mr. Mix advises that he does delete some transitory emails that he won’t use again (as he is permitted), he unequivocally states that  he has not and does not intentionally delete other emails.  He states that he was distressed by the discovery of missing emails.” (My emphasis).

Mix mentions that he had a phone upgrade around that time and thinks that may have caused the records to go missing. One wonders how archived files on a server could possibly be affected by a phone upgrade, and even more puzzling is that it was only during that critical e-gaming period. How is it that files from 2013 on were left intact?

These are disclosures that are at one and the same time very refreshing and very disturbing.  Had the Liberal party simply been honest with me when I submitted my request last October (and with the Information Commissioner) and disclosed that there was no point searching for the records I had requested because they had all been deleted, then there would most certainly have been significant consequences for both the Liberal government and the Motion Hearing that happened over four days  in the PEI Supreme Court back in April, commencing on election day.  That’s disturbing.

What’s refreshing is that this truthful and insightful information has finally come to light by a new Deputy Minister under a new PC government which has taken charge of the file.

Brad Mix’s answer to question six may also pose a legal problem for Stewart McKelvey, the law firm representing the provincial government in the CMT lawsuit. Lead lawyer, Jonathan Coady, has been saying for years that he has disclosed all relevant information in accordance with Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island procedural rules and requirements.  He clearly hasn’t.  Nor has he disclosed the fact that Brad Mix’s e-gaming records had been deleted.

I wonder how many other people involved in e-gaming had their records destroyed?

So a very sincere kudos to you Ms. McGrath-Gaudet!  The King government is clearly following through on promises made to Islanders that a PC government will trust Islanders with information and be truly open and transparent. Keep it up!

I have provided a link to the July 10, 2019 response letter from the Deputy Minister (Letter to Information Commissioner from Erin McGrath-Gaudet).

I will be doing a follow-up, more in-depth report at some point down-the-road, possibly after the Commissioner issues her Order.

It’s good to be back.

 

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