Horgan's NDP accused of hypocrisy over deleted emails
Premier John Horgan speaks on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.
Published Wednesday, May 16, 2018 6:51PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 17, 2018 11:30AM PDT
The New Democrats are being accused of hypocrisy after news emerged that several senior staff in the premier's office deleted a large number of emails.
When he was in opposition, John Horgan made his outrage well-known after a scathing independent report in 2015 found serious problems with the former Liberal government's record-keeping in what became known as the "triple-delete scandal."
Horgan accused the Liberals of fostering "a culture of deception, a culture of deceit, a culture of delete, delete, delete" after the blistering report identified major failures in access to information practices and a failure to keep adequate email records under former premier Christy Clark.
Now, Horgan's government is facing similar questions.
"To the Minister of Advanced Education: Why did she fail to provide the requested records?" Liberal finance critic Shirley Bond asked during Question Period Wednesday.
A Freedom of Information request looking for all emails sent by Minister Melanie Mark in February came back with nothing—and that's not all.
"Four senior officials in the premier's office had no records when a request was made for all emails and text messages over a four-month period," said Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies.
Horgan defended his staff Monday, saying "that was largely in the early days of their employment with the Government of British Columbia."
Speaking about the issue again on Thursday, he told those gathered in the Legislature that he was disappointed his government is not always meeting the high standard he's set, but that they remained committed to doing their best to "be transparent and to do due dilligence to have best practices when it comes to freedom of information."
Communications professor David Black, however, said the actions could be difficult to justify.
"If this were one staffer in a remote ministry, one could understand that errors happen, but these are five senior staff," he said.
Deputy Premier Carole James says a review is underway and some deleted emails could be restored. The investigation has expanded to include a total of seven staff members.
"There's a lot of good reasons for deleting emails," she said, but wouldn't elaborate on whether the messages might have been improperly erased.
The government insists it is committed to good record keeping, even as its current record comes under fire.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan