A promise by the P.E.I. government to hire an external party to review how government emails went missing may not go ahead as planned.
This spring, Economic Growth and Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay announced the investigation.
"I want to make sure there's a review done and we're going to find out what happened to these emails," MacKay said in June.
There are two batches of missing emails that have come under the microscope and both are connected to government's failed attempt to become a regulator for online gaming.
In 2016, P.E.I.'s auditor general reported emails from accounts for three senior civil servants involved in the e-gaming affair had been improperly deleted.
Then, another senior civil servant's emails went missing between June 2010 and April 2012, a time period that covers most developments within the e-gaming initiative.
'Avoid having two concurrent ... investigations'
Information and Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose said the province's Archives and Records Act was also violated when those emails went missing.
While Rose said there was "insufficient evidence" to conclude "that records were intentionally destroyed for the purpose of evading an access request," she also said, "the probability is small that the named employee's emails would accidentally go missing for precisely the period of time during which the e-gaming file was open."
After MacKay announced an external investigation would take place, a special legislative standing committee was set up to also investigate the missing emails. It has six months to report back to the P.E.I. Legislature.
MacKay is now seeking direction from that legislative committee about whether his promised departmental investigation should go ahead.
In a letter to the committee MacKay writes, "In my view, it would be in the best interest of public confidence to avoid having two concurrent, and potentially competing, investigations and reviews happening at the same time on similar topic."
Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker said he has no issue with the minister proceeding with his investigation but he said that's a decision the department has to make itself.
'We're trying to get to the bottom of this'
"There were clearly some problems, the information and privacy commissioner's report points to some very specific problems in the Department of Economic Growth, which the minister I think should, quite rightly, be concerned about," Bevan-Baker said in an interview.
Sidney MacEwen, a government MLA on the special legislative committee, questions the need for the second investigation.
"The thing we want to be clear to the public is we're trying to get to the bottom of this, so if we have a competing investigation from this special committee on records retention and one coming from the department that might get confusing," said MacEwen.
If following the legislative standing committee's investigation there are still outstanding questions, MacEwen said the committee can recommend the department proceed with its own investigation.
MacKay initially said his investigation would go beyond looking into the missing emails and that there would also be an "extensive review" of government's record-keeping system.
"As a province and as a government, this shouldn't even be a topic. We should have a system in place that this doesn't happen and if we need to change systems or look at doing something differently, we need to look at it," MacKay said in June.
'Love to know exactly what went on in e-gaming'
The legislative committee probing what happened to the missing government emails is planning a series of meetings over the next couple of months.
On Thursday, the committee will hear from the information and privacy commissioner. The committee also plans to hear from officials in IT and public archives.
Bevan-Baker said the committee may never get to the bottom of what really happened to the missing emails, but he hopes it can come up with a plan to ensure that what happened never happens again.
"Obviously, I would love to know exactly what went on in e-gaming as so many other people would. I'm unsure as to how far we're going to get with that," said Bevan-Baker.
During the committee meeting on Wednesday, former auditor general Jane MacAdam said some action has been taken on all 15 of the recommendations contained in her report to improve record management in the provincial government.
"I think we have moved forward a long way but we still have some work to do and I hope by the end of this committee's deliberations we will have a report back to the legislature which clearly outlines where those remaining gaps are," said Bevan-Baker.
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