Wednesday, July 22, 2009

 

Gary Mason: All right, Campbell, time to talk about the e-mails

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British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell.

Government's handling of this matter is disgraceful and shows nothing but contempt for the concerns of B.C. citizens

Gary Mason

No one wants to talk about the e-mails.

Not the Premier of B.C. Not the minister in charge of the provincial government's electronic information system. Not the woman who swore an affidavit that said digital records potentially critical to a political corruption case were destroyed during the May provincial election. (Or not.)

Not the company contracted to carry out the order.

No one in government will return a phone call to discuss the broad policies and guidelines that apply to the electronic storage and disposal of government records. Officials in the government's massive, and massively expensive, public-affairs bureau refuse to respond to e-mails that deal with requests about e-mails.

All of which should give people in B.C. and across the country an idea of the level of paranoia that surrounds the issue since questions about the destruction of key government records were prompted by a front-page story in The Globe and Mail last week.

It concerned the long-running trial of three former political aides charged with fraud and breach of trust related to the sale of BC Rail in 2003. Two of the three are accused of leaking top-secret information to one of the bidders in exchange for cash and other gifts. Defence lawyers have argued that the extent to which their clients leaked any information was done with the full knowledge of Premier Gordon Campbell and the members of his cabinet and part of a strategy to drive up the sale price of the rail line.

And e-mail records from that period would prove it, defence lawyers have insisted.

Mark Hume took your BC Rail questions

Discussing the political corruption trial that is reaching all the way to the office of Premier Gordon Campbell

View

A government lawyer had earlier said all e-mails from the period in which the defence is seeking records – 2001 to 2005 – had been destroyed. But then The Globe and Mail revealed that an affidavit was filed last week indicating that many of those records were ordered deleted as recently as May, during the provincial election. The same affidavit says some records from that period were later found intact.

So no one seems to know what really is going on. And no one seems to know precisely what the policies are that govern the storage and disposal of government records. Which is what I was trying to find out this week. For the record, here are those who refused to discuss the matter or even respond to interview requests:

{Snip} ... See the list of people Gary called: Ben Stewart, Rosemarie Hayes, Sue Goldsmith, Lee Johnson, David Loukidelis ... and their reaction.


Don't miss reading Gary Mason's full column HERE.

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Comments:
So.

Forget about the long gone Wally O....

Because this is one mother of a Stonewall that even John Mitchell would be proud of.

Sheesh.

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I especially liked this comment of Gary's:

It would appear people have either gone into hiding voluntarily or been ordered there by the Premier's office, which controls all messaging during times of crisis. Either way, the government's handling of this matter is disgraceful and shows nothing but contempt for the related concerns of B.C. citizens.

Maybe the people will soon start to get the point too.

Thanks Gary, well done.
 
Is that all you have to do in this province to escape justice,is say i don't know or not answer your phone? geeze louise!Where the hell are the police in all this are the hear no evil see no evil speak no evil monkeys?this whole afair stink's with all level's of government and police and the court's it's time to take to the street's!Nothing on the new's again tonight!
 
I wish to echo G West's sentiments, Gary, well said! A well-chosen word in the opening line of your opinion piece sums up the Gordon Campbell government's treatment of BC citizens - "Contempt".

Hopefully, if Gordon Campbell does not produce the documents for Justice Bennett, she will find him in contempt and send him (and any other government employee that does not comply) to a cell to cool his heels. That is what I would expect would happen to me or any other ordinary BC citizen.

Campbell can't have it both ways. He can't refuse to speak about the BC Rail case claiming to be protecting the case before the courts while at the same time not producing nor protecting the emails related to the case.

A Premier with nothing to hide would have provided those documents for the court years ago. At this point, I don't believe I could trust whatever he produces as being all that should be available for the court to see to see.
 
Gary Mason's column is a must read. Share with whomever you can.

Every citizen should be outraged.
 
I agree with Mr. Farrell - because that's what's been missing from the great majority of the proMedia coverage of this thing so far....Outrage.

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As I read Mr. Mason's column, I couldn't help but think that he has, indeed, been reading our stuff...Way to go Mary and the Anon-O-Mice!



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I don't know if you've had a chance to review the Chief Information Officer's site, but buried on the site is a link to the current government policy document covering information management.

It's Chapter 12 of the Government's Core Policy Manual. It was extensively rewritten and approved by Treasury Board in 2007.

Section 12.3.3 III (c) covers the storage and disposition of Government Records (pp 49 & 50).

On page 50 there is the following statement:
"Records eligible for final disposition must not be disposed of if they are identified as relevant during any of the following:
a litigation document discovery process;
an inquiry under the Inquiry Act
a request for information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, or
in any other extraordinary situation (e.g. a criminal investigation.)
Scheduled final dispostion action must be suspended until the recorded information is no longer required for the purposes described above. Records Officers must ensure the disposition holds are applied to all relevant records regardless of where they are stored... their format... or the physical media they are stored on."

These records were clearly the subject of a criminal investigation and a request (by the defence) under FOI. They were the subject of a hold that was mysteriously pulled.

The Chief Information Officer has responsibility for overseeing the actions of government with respect to this manual. Dave Nikolejsin has served as Chief Information Officer for the Province of British Columbia since July 2005, and oversaw the rewrite and approval of the policy. If anyone knows, he knows.
 
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