I feel compelled to write this open letter to all islanders because much of the information provided from the PEI Legislature this current session of the House is inaccurate, incomplete and, in many cases, dead wrong.
As leader of the NDP Party of PEI, We feel it is our duty to try to- clarify matters for Islanders so that the average citizen can be reasonably well- informed as to what has and hasn’t happened during this session of the house.
As you are aware, in her 2016 report on the E-Gaming scandal, the PEI Auditor General explained that her ability to investigate the totality of the issues in relation to E-Gaming was restricted because the email accounts of two senior government officials had been deleted. During this current session of the House,the Premier and his Ministers stood before the House and collectively refused to answer over 400 questions asked by opposition in relation to this and other issues. Rather than respond in an open and transparent manner, the Government opted to refuse to answer the question, or they made promises to provide the answer later, which they never did. In the case of deleted email accounts mentioned by the Auditor, they introduced the concept of disabled accounts rather than deleted accounts in an effort to confuse and misguide Islanders.
I am setting out below the actual quotation from the Auditor General. I am doing this so that her words can be clearly understood. Please note, that she never refers to disabled email accounts.
“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. It became evident that some of the public bodies involved in these files were not adhering to the requirements of the Act.” – Auditor General Jane MacAdam.
It is beyond comprehension why the Premier and Minister Currie would not answer questions about these deleted email accounts when pressed by the opposition. It is equally perplexing that they would then try to confuse the issue by introducing the notion of disabled government email accounts. Just so that everyone understands, a government employee’s email account is disabled when they leave government employment because after they leave their job, they are no longer able to conduct any type of business for government nor are they obliged to do anything on behalf of government. Everyone understands that disabling an account is excellent protection for both the employee and the government, but disabling the account simply means that it is no longer able to send or receive email; it does not mean that the entire data history of the account is deleted.
In order to delete the entire data content of an email account one must adhere to the terms of the Archives and Records Act. The province’sArchives and Records Act states records may only be destroyed in accordance with a schedule which specifies the retention period for each type of document. In her report, MacAdam made specific reference to the fact that government was not complying with those retention schedules,
which means documents were being deleted illegally. In requiring that the records not be destroyed without proper authority, the legislation recognizes that those who work and make decisions in the public interest must be accountable for their actions and decisions. The retention of records is an essential component of accountability.
The Auditor General admitted that she did not have the scope within her mandate to look at the Archives and Records Act. She was disturbed by what she found to be the actions and practices of government; in fact she was so impacted by what she found to be government’s common practice that she felt compelled to point it out.
The Auditor General’s report put Government and all Islanders on notice that two accounts were completely deleted. The Premier and Minister Currie stood before the house and said they did not know the names of the accounts that had been deleted. Here we are over nine weeks later, and we still have no knowledge as to whose accounts were deleted, what information might have been included in those accounts, or if confidential Health or Financial Records of any Islanders had been included.
Obviously, the deletion of these accounts is a significant issue for all Islanders. What Islanders don’t know is whose accounts are involved and what information was deleted. Islanders have a right to know this information because the entire government IT system and its information retention system were used for illegal purposes.
From my perspective one of three things happened in relation to these deleted emails:
1) A person with the delegated authority to access the
government server was ordered to illegally delete the email accounts
2) An employee with the delegated authority to access the
government server deleted these accounts and acted alone in so doing.
3) Government Servers were illegally hacked
Any of these options suggests criminal activity and each scenario
represents significant risk and harm to the government’s IT security. For these reasons, questions need to be asked and answers need to be provided by government. The sooner government accepts its obligation to disclose this information, the sooner Islanders can rest assured that their government IT system and information management systems are safe.
None of these actions is acceptable and someone or some group needs to be held accountable. Islanders have the right to know. This is why we in the NDP took the matter directly to the RCMP. It is very clear that this is a criminal matter.
Breach of trust by public officer
122 Every official who, in connection with the duties of his office, commits fraud or a breach of trust is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, whether or not the fraud or breach of trust would be an offence if it were committed in relation to a private person.