With the federal election done and over, it would have been nice to have received a bit of a break, a breath of air not tainted by news of political wrongdoing and/or scandal.
No such luck here in B.C., where residents are currently receiving an education on the process of “triple deleting” emails and the ramifications this has when done by those in power who at one point, offered some semblance of promise to be more transparent.
The gist of the story is how the B.C. government, particularly staff in the Ministry of Transportation,
thoroughly deleted their email history related to the infamous “Highway of Tears.” This is a stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, from which 19 women are reported to have disappeared between 1969 and 2011. Thirteen of those women were found to have been murdered. One of the homicides has been directly linked through DNA to serial killer Bobby Jack Fowler, and Fowler is suspected to have had a hand in two of the other murders.
Fowler, however, was arrested in 1995 and died in prison in 2006. And, since four of the disappearances and one of the homicides occurred in that time period, the RCMP’s investigation continues.
As for the significance of the deleted emails, while there is no longer a record of their contents, their deletion constitutes a violation of B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has also asked police to investigate a former ministry assistant for allegedly lying under oath after deleting emails related to an information request pertaining to the Highway of Tears.
In response, Transportation minister Todd Stone nonchalantly admitted to having triple deleted his own emails from time to time, noting that is “how all British Columbians manage their email.”
Of course, most British Columbians aren’t paid by the taxpayer to serve the province.
Premier Christy Clark has ordered all political staff and cabinet ministers to save all emails, pending the completion of a review of problems relating to freedom of information.
It has since been revealed that two political staffers in Clark’s office, chief-of-staff Dan Doyle and communications director Ben Chin may also have been covering their tracks, leaving no official record of communications during certain time periods.
Meanwhile, British Columbians wait to see if and when Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau comes through with a promise to launch an inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of aboriginal women from Highway 16.