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

VIDEO: RCMP Emergency Response Team at known drug house in Chilliwack

Armed officers respond to reports of shots, bring in ERT, K-9 unit and spike belt

Highway 1 closed after body found north of Yale

Coroners Service reportedly on the scene, next Drive BC update at noon

Kelowna trial for three men charged in Hope murder delayed 11 months

The trial for the alleged killers of Michael Bonin has been moved to May 2021, was supposed to begin this month

Harrison officials unveil reopening plan

As Phase 3 takes effect, village amenities, services resume

Nurses acknowledged with new scholarship at UFV

Jackie and Dick Newton’s daughter donates to honour nurses who cared for her parents

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Sex offender Danny Depew sentenced in Abbotsford to 2.5 more years

Depew still has child-luring charges before the courts in Ontario

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Golden Ears park expected to be busy the first camping weekend of season

Campgrounds expected to be full or close to full

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Abbotsford Airshow launching virtual Aerospace Camp

Online S.T.E.M. open to students aged 10 to 15, starts later this summer

Aldergrove man, 60, can ‘finally afford to retire’ after winning $24M in lottery

Ron Cumiskey plans to use the hefty Lotto 6/49 winnings to stay close to home and his daughters

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Most Read