Deputy minister ordered The Rooms staff member to delete email, says CEO's assistant

A deputy minister under Chris Mitchelmore is accused of ordering a staff member at The Rooms to delete an email containing a controversial firing letter.

Ted Lomond took heat in the House of Assembly this week as Opposition members questioned why the former deputy minister would be telling people to delete public records in the midst of the Carla Foote hiring.

You knew this was going to get ATIPP'd. - Ted Lomond

The questions were directed to Mitchelmore, but it was Premier Dwight Ball who stood and answered after the embattled cabinet minister declined to speak.

Contained within The Mitchelmore Report are five allegations, the fourth of which says Mitchelmore's office directed staff at The Rooms to delete emails.

The accusation

What we know for sure is that on June 15, 2018, Lomond called The Rooms CEO Dean Brinton and told him they were hiring Carla Foote to be executive director of marketing at the musuem, gallery and archive.

Brinton told Lomond he'd already hired someone for a marketing job — they are referred to as "A.B." in the pages of the report.

Terry Roberts/CBC

Lomond's assistant then sent a form letter to Brinton's office, informing A.B. her contract had been terminated.

It had Brinton's name at the bottom, even though he didn't write it.

The allegation is that Lomond's assistant followed up that email with a phone call to Brinton's assistant, telling her to delete the email.

Government officials and staff are required to keep their emails, since they are accessible to the public upon request. Only "transitory records" — insignificant notes — can be deleted.

Deputy wanted records 'neat and tidy'

In his interview with the citizens' representative for the Mitchelmore Report, Lomond said the firing letter was a transitory record.

"I talked to Mr. Brinton a number of times and I said to him that in light of everything that is happening, I would suggest you delete your transitory records," Lomond told the Office of the Citizens' Representative.

Brinton said he knew their conversation would be subject to requests under the Access to Information and Privacy Protection Act [ATIPPA], and said he wanted to make sure his emails were in order.

"You knew this was going to get ATIPP'd," he told the citizen's rep. "So I would like to have my records neat and tidy, final versions lined up."

The citizens' representative did not find any wrongdoing on the part of Mitchelmore for the emails being deleted, but did not rule whether or not Lomond did anything wrong.

Lomond is now a deputy minister in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

In the House of Assembly, PC MHA Barry Petten asked if the deputy minister would be fired.

"There was no deliberate attempt here to be hiding key information from the people of the province," Ball said.

PC MHA Helen Conway Ottenheimer asked if deleting emails is a common practice, who ordered the deletion, and what other information has been deleted.

Ball stood for Mitchelmore each time, and said they were just "transitory records."

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