New Brunswick

Anne Bertrand weighs probe into Larry's Gulch guest list questions

New Brunswick’s access to information commissioner will decide in the coming days whether to launch an investigation into whether someone tampered with the guest list of Larry’s Gulch to remove the name of a newspaper editor.

Ex-Tory tourism minister Trevor Holder says he was not pressured to change the Larry's Gulch guest list

Former tourism minister Trevor Holder says he was never approached to alter the guest list for the government-owned fishing lodge, Larry's Gulch. 2:10

New Brunswick’s access to information commissioner will decide soon if she will launch an investigation into whether someone tampered with the guest list of Larry’s Gulch to remove the name of a newspaper editor.

Brunswick News Inc. announced on Monday two senior editors were no longer at the Moncton Times & Transcript after an ethical investigation.

Anne Bertrand, the province's information commissioner, said she will decide in the next few days whether to investigate if public documents were altered. (CBC)
The investigation revealed one editor accepted a trip to the government-owned fishing lodge, two editors did not tell the truth when asked about the trip, and eventually there were attempts to work with an official in then-premier David Alward’s office to remove the editor’s name from the guest list.

Anne Bertrand, the province's information commissioner, said on Tuesday she will decide within the next day or two whether to conduct her own investigation.

Bertrand said the allegation that documents may have been altered is a serious matter.

"You can't destroy a record or erase information in a record … it's destroying a record or erasing information from it or directing another person to do so with intent to evade access to the record," Bertrand said.

"So that's really, this is getting closer to what appears to be this case."

Questions about altered documents

Al Hogan is out as managing editor of the Moncton Times & Transcript following an ethical investigation was launched after another newspaper editor went to Larry's Gulch in 2013. (LinkedIn)
The newspaper company announced on Monday that Al Hogan, the managing editor of the Moncton Times & Transcript, was "no longer employed by Brunswick News" and Murray Guy, the newspaper’s assistant managing editor, had resigned.

Patricia Graham, the BNI ombudsman, posted a column on the newspapers’ website on Monday that detailed the results of an ethical investigation launched after it was learned that Guy was the guest of Daniel Allain, the former chief executive officer of NB Liquor, at Larry’s Gulch, in 2013.

The investigation found that Guy tried to have Darell Fowlie, who served as the deputy minister of communications for former premier David Alward, alter the guest list before it was released to the media.

A story Monday from L'Acadie Nouvelle, the province's French-language daily newspaper, said it received a copy of the 2013 guest list and Guy's name was not on it.

On Tuesday, L'Acadie Nouvelle posted the copy of the 2013 guest list it received online. The guest list it posted does not show a booking for NB Liquor, which is a Crown corporation.

The province also allows private bookings of the government-owned fishing resort.

New Brunswick's Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act makes it an offence to "alter, falsify, conceal or destroy any record or part of any record, or direct another person to do so, with an intent to evade a request for access to the record."

According to the Provincial Offences Procedure Act, a judge can order anyone violating the information law's provision not to alter documents to pay "a fine of not less than $240 and not more than $10,200."

Ex-PC tourism minister wants answers

Trevor Holder, a former tourism minister, said he was never pressured to change the guest list from Larry's Gulch. (CBC)
Progressive Conservative MLA Trevor Holder released a statement on Tuesday saying that he was not pressured or approached to change the guest list when he was at the department.

He pointed out that as tourism minister, he developed a policy so the public had access to the names of guests of the fishing lodge.

"If there was any deviation from the policy, it was not at my direction or behest and was done without my approval.  The public has a right to access information concerning government guests at Larry’s Gulch, and any attempt not to follow the policy is unwarranted and contrary to the public interest," Holder said in the statement.

"I am therefore very concerned by any suggestion of impropriety, and I, as much as anybody else, am very interested to know whether there were any requests or pressure to deviate from the policy and specifically whether anybody altered lists or withheld names from lists that were presented to me, as minister, for public release."

Brunswick News released the ombudsman's statement about the ethical investigation after the story broke on Canadaland, an independent media site.

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