Email records were left intact, former government officials tell committee

·3 min read

The P.E.I. Legislature's special committee on government records retention heard more testimony Friday related to emails that went missing in the time frame coinciding with the province's e-gaming affair.

The e-gaming controversy refers to government's failed attempt between 2009 and 2012, along with the Mi'kmaq Confederacy, to become a centre for online gaming regulation.

On Friday morning the committee heard from Melissa (MacEachern) James, a former deputy minister with the P.E.I. government, and Chris LeClair, former chief of staff to former premier Robert Ghiz.

Both appeared voluntarily.

Testifying first before the committee, James, who served as a deputy minister from 2007 to 2013, said whatever happened to her emails, happened after she left.

"I can't recall even thinking about my records," James testified Friday morning.

"The records were left. I left government. I assumed they would be used in the normal course of business. They were left intact." James also said she wasn't involved in e-gaming.

Province of P.E.I.
Province of P.E.I.

She said she was not aware that any of her government emails were missing until she read about it in the media.

Progressive Conservative MLA Cory Deagle asked James if she took any action when she heard the emails were missing. James said as she was no longer in government at the time, there was nothing for her to do.

'I'm not an agent of government'

LeClair echoed James's testimony.

He said he did not think much about records management while chief of staff, and all his records were left intact when he left government in October 2011.

"I had really no knowledge of what would happen as a result of leaving government with respect to records management," said LeClair.

Deagle also asked LeClair if he took any action when he heard some of his emails were missing.

Province of P.E.I.
Province of P.E.I.

"I'm not an agent of government anymore. I haven't been an agent of government for almost a decade," LeClair answered.

Asked by Liberal MLA Hal Perry if he had any suggestions for the committee, LeClair said the committee should ask for a briefing on last week's P.E.I. Court of Appeal decision, which exonerated both him and James of accusations of wrongdoing in a lawsuit.

LeClair noted the court found the emails were deleted in the course of normal government business when people left government employment, and read from the decision.

"They did so because of the costs and types of the licences available to the government for email accounts and the volume of storage available," LeClair read.

"Between the years 2007 and 2011 they followed this procedure 1,054 times for employees ranging from secretaries right through to the premier's office."

The special committee on government records retention was struck after a decision in June from P.E.I.'s information and privacy commissioner. The commissioner said the province's Archives and Records Act was violated when a swath of emails went missing from the account of a senior bureaucrat with Innovation PEI.

The committee has already heard from that senior official. Brad Mix told the committee he did not delete his emails, that he did not know what happened to them, and wished he still had them.

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