PEI

Some witnesses will no longer be called in e-gaming probe

The public accounts committee of the P.E.I. legislature has decided not to call some witnesses in the e-gaming controversy.

'What duty is it going to solve?' asked Liberal MLA on committee

Auditor General Jane MacAdam addressed P.E.I.'s Public Accounts Committee in October regarding the failed e-gaming initiative. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

The public accounts committee of the P.E.I. legislature has decided not to call some witnesses in the e-gaming controversy.

On Wednesday, the committee reversed a motion from a prior meeting — held Nov. 2 — to call four people to appear before the committee.

Among the four were former chief of staff Chris LeClair and former deputy minister, Melissa MacEachern, both of whom were identified as being in apparent conflicts of interest in the auditor general's report on e-gaming.

The committee had also decided, in the Nov. 2 meeting, to call private businessmen Paul Jenkins and Garth Jenkins.

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."

'What duty is it going to solve?'

Liberal member Sonny Gallant moved for the reversal.

"In the report it says that people were in a conflict and, you know, what duty is it going to solve by bringing them in here and embarrassing them?" he asked.

"The auditor general made a report … the minister of finance is responsible for that department now … let's go through [the report] … and ask our questions and at the end we'll have the minister in to answer our questions."

The PC and Green MLAs on the committee argued that calling witnesses beyond the current minister could help fill in some of the details in the e-gaming plan.

'I feel this is politics playing'

PC MLA Sidney MacEwen suggested the Liberal majority on the committee was being partisan.

"I feel this is politics playing," he said. "Now that there are a majority of Liberal members back on the committee it's embarrassing that that's obvious what's going on."

In the end, the committee voted to reverse the original motion, meaning the four witnesses will no longer be asked to appear.

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