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

Western Canada’s only Military Tattoo returns to Vernon

The 6th annual tattoo is slated to take place July 27-28 at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.

Athletes helping athletes

While the Vernon Christian basketball team have their own games to play this weekend, they took time out of practice Tuesday to volunteer.

JUNO nominated band visits Vernon and Penticton

Tim and The Glory Boys will perform in Vernon March 9.

Special Olympic B.C. Winter Games continue in Vernon

Events conclude today. Check out what’s happening.

Nearly 200 new businesses for Greater Vernon in 2018: Chamber

Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce says nearly 200 new businesses in 2018

Athletes hit the slopes for the final day of SOBC

The awards ceremony for all alpine skiing events took place this afternoon at the SilverStar Village Podium.

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

One of B.C.’s newest citizens reflects on the value of immigration

“People who come by choice to another country will do everything to contribute to that country.”

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Team BC sitting 4th at Canada Winter Games after 1st week

Team BC ringette featuring Kelowna’s Brooklyn Keller finished 4th

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Most Read