Premier bans political interference in records

Premier Christy Clark stops practice of ministers, political staff triple-deleting emails, promises 'duty to document' government business

Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham

There will be no more political staff deleting email records in ministry offices, Premier Christy Clark promised Wednesday.

Clark said she accepts all of the recommendations made by Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham and a follow-up study by a former commissioner to preserve email records that could be requested under freedom of information law.

“The practice of ‘triple deleting’ will be prohibited, ministers and political staff will continue to retain sent emails and a new policy and specific training will be developed,” Clark said. “As soon as practicable, public servants will be made responsible for the searching of records responsive to information requests on behalf of ministers and political staff.”

Denham reported in October on investigations into three complaints, and determined in at least one case that emails had been intentionally deleted in an effort to avoid public release. She also condemned the practice of political staff such as Clark’s deputy chief of staff to delete all of their sent emails at the end of each day.

A political staffer in Transportation Minister Todd Stone’s office resigned when Denham’s report came out. She said he denied under oath deleting another staffer’s emails related to meetings with remote communities on safe transit options for Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

NDP leader John Horgan said giving non-partisan public servants responsibility for records searches is an important step, but the government needs to legislate a “duty to document” policy decisions of government.

Clark told reporters Wednesday that step will be taken once legislation is prepared to build on existing requirements.

The government brought in former information and privacy commissioner David Loukidelis to recommend new practices. Among his recommendations was to adjust government email systems so even deleted records are kept long enough to be captured in monthly computer backups, to allow later examination in cases where they may be the last location kept.

Loukedelis said it not practical for any government to keep all email records, and attempting to archive such a massive volume of data would not only increase costs but would harm the public’s ability to get timely access. And any attempt to vet each email to determine if it should be kept would cause government to “grind to a halt.”

B.C.’s Chief Information Officer reported that the B.C. public service now receives 284 million email messages each year, and sends out another 86 million.

“To suggest, as some have, that all information should be kept is akin to suggesting it is good household management for homeowners never to throw away rotten food, grocery lists, old newspapers, broken toys or worn-out clothes,” Loukidelis wrote.

 

Just Posted

Shuswap woman protests for family court reform

Goals include increased resources for people who wish to represent themselves

Alberta man killed in Highway 97A collision south of Sicamous

Aug. 16 crash under investigation by the RCMP and BC Coroners Service

Looking for a job in Salmon Arm? Now’s a good time

Trends show workers needed in trades, service industry, high-tech manufacturing and more

CSRD to appeal loss of mosquito control in North Shuswap provincial parks

Inability to treat parks, concerns from Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band, may cause program to fold

Salmon Arm artist shares love for painting with Roots & Blues performers

Making a business out of creating art a dream come true for the Meikle family

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

Power up: UBC Okanagan researchers designing battery that packs more punch

It’s a collaboration between the university and B.C.-based tech companies

Liberals block hearings into scathing ethics report on SNC-Lavalin affair

Dion concluded in his report last week that Trudeau broke the Conflict of Interest Act

Infamous Okanagan motel to appeal being boarded up

‘The people that are living there today are compromised by the fact that they have to live there’

Retired Richmond fisherman wins record-breaking $60M Lotto Max jackpot

Joseph Katalinic won the biggest Lotto Max prize ever awarded

Lane had excelled in science fairs

Summerland graduate became senior geologist

South Okanagan dangerous offender back in court

Administrative error has led to more court time being used up in Penticton

Denim on the Diamond festival returns to the Okanagan bigger and better

The end of summer festival returns to King Stadium in Kelowna Aug. 31

Most Read