What we know, and don't know, about P.E.I.'s deleted emails
Big questions remain after the email accounts of two senior officials were deleted after leaving office
Every day in the House last week the Official Opposition posed questions to P.E.I. government members on the issue of deleted emails, wanting to know, more than anything else, whose email accounts — belonging to two senior government officials — were deleted after leaving government.
- E-gaming emails deleted, text messages not provided to AG
- RCMP reviewing NDP criminal complaint over P.E.I. e-gaming initiative
The Opposition has speculated about some names, but so far, neither the premier nor any members of his cabinet have provided the answers the opposition is seeking.
Government's message so far has been this, in a nutshell: we'll make sure it doesn't happen again. Given the fact the Opposition came back each day with fresh questions about this, PC MLAs aren't satisfied with that response.
What we know about P.E.I.'s deleted emails
The province's failed bid to become a regulator of online gambling was the subject of a special investigation by Auditor General Jane MacAdam. She concluded government's pursuit of the plan "demonstrated a lack of due regard for transparency and accountability."
In her report, MacAdam wrote: "We noted instances where the email accounts of senior government officials, who were key participants in the e-gaming initiative … were removed after leaving government."
Further on she explains the email accounts in question were "closed, deleted and could not be recovered. We were not provided with any emails or other government records for these individuals."
As a result of her e-gaming investigation, MacAdam concluded some government agencies or departments have not been adhering to the province's Archives and Records Act, which, among other things, safeguards government documents including emails against being destroyed.
Under questioning from the Opposition, the premier has said that "there were … two officials who, following their departure from government, the email accounts were deleted," adding, "that would not happen again."
No penalties, says government
Finance Minister Allen Roach, put in charge of government's response to MacAdam's e-gaming report, has already said there will be no penalties against anyone who might have been involved in deleting the emails because the Archives and Records Act includes no penalties, something government says it plans to address.
Auditor General Jane MacAdam said she didn't believe she'd uncovered anything criminal in her investigation into the province's e-gaming initiative.
Meanwhile the provincial NDP have laid a complaint with the RCMP about the e-gaming initiative. The RCMP are currently looking into that, and in a statement Nov. 16 said "if a criminal investigation is warranted, the RCMP will make a public statement at that time."
What we don't know about P.E.I.'s deleted emails
"Question to the Premier," said PC MLA Steven Myers in question period last Friday, Nov. 25, after his party had batted the issue around all week. "Did you ever decide that you wanted to tell Islanders whose emails were deleted yet?"
The opposition has come up with its own list of possibilities, raising several names in the house, including former premier Robert Ghiz, former finance minister Wes Sheridan, and two former government officials whom the auditor general in her e-gaming report said were in apparent conflicts of interest.
In response to Myers, Education Minister Doug Currie stepped in (not for the first time), saying (again not for the first time) that he would take the issue under advisement. He then proceeded to talk about the new, modernized records information management program government is preparing to unveil, which will "put us at a level with every province and jurisdiction across this country."
Questioned by reporters afterwards, Currie, the minister responsible for overseeing P.E.I.'s Archives and Records Act, confessed he knew very little about the deleted emails, including:
- Whose emails were deleted
- Who deleted them, and whether it was intentional
- Whether anyone within government is conducting any sort of review to sort any of this out.
Government is clearly wanting to look forward on this issue, while the Opposition wants to look back.
Asked why Islanders should know the names of the former officials whose emails were deleted, Myers responded "Why wouldn't they? This is a very serious case where government is hiding information from Islanders … A simple question of whose emails … that won't answer what was in them and what [government is] actually hiding."
Currie said he would have more information on this issue to share sometime this week.