Depending on when you checked his Wikipedia entry last week, Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Hines was either a "strong proponent of rural economic development" or "he was involved in a spending scandal in which he charged thousands of dollars in personal expenses and cash advances to a corporate credit card" during that time.

A member of the minister's staff removed the unflattering information about Hines and a link to the CBC News story about the spending scandal, replacing it with a glowing tribute to Hines's municipal career as Guysborough warden. 

The suggestion he was a spendthrift was replaced by mention of his having brought a regional waste management facility to the district, along with his having "led the development of the 14.8-megawatt Sable Wind Farm, the only wind farm owned by an individual municipality in Nova Scotia."

The staffer also changed a word describing Hines's most recent cabinet shuffle, from natural resources minister to transportation minister. Rather than simply "moving" him from one portfolio to another, Premier Stephen McNeil was "elevating" Hines to his new role.

IP address linked to government server

The changes were made from a computer with an IP address tied to a Nova Scotia government server. Hours after the CBC started asking questions about who might have edited the Wikipedia entry, the edits were reversed to the original, less effusive entry at that same computer.

The minister refused to answer questions about who was responsible for the edits or if he had ordered or instructed staff to make the changes.

Instead, in an email passed along by the department's media relations adviser, Hines offered a written response: "I'm aware of the Wikipedia change. A member of my staff made the edit and I have been assured it won't happen again. This practice will not be encouraged."

Asked to clarify that statement, Hines wrote: "My staff routinely review how my name appears online and as part of that, they made changes to that entry. As I previously stated, I've been assured it won't happen again."