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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria thrift shop quietly closes two locations indefinitely

Society of St. Vincent de Paul shut down Sooke and Central Saanich storefronts

Four-storey Oak Bay Avenue development to have rooftop garden

Redfern 35-unit development sent to public hearing

Sooke councillor pitches another way to improve transit

Coun. Jeff Bateman wants free passes for youth on local routes

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Greater Victoria

Thunderstorm may produce strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain, warns Environment Canada

Sooke couple that owned Sooke Harbour House given $4 million after lengthy court case

B.C. Supreme Court rules in favour of Frederique and Sinclair Philip

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read