That letter is below.
June 29, 2009
Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier
Room 156, West Annex
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Dear Premier Gordon Campbell,
I am writing with regard to the serious revelation that four years of Cabinet email correspondence concerning the sale of BC Rail has been deleted and/or destroyed by your government.
The destruction of government emails that have been requested by the defence in this case raises serious questions about your government’s compliance with British Columbia law and policy, particularly as it applies to emails of cabinet ministers, executive appointees and high-ranking political staff.
The destruction of government records, including emails, is covered by a provincial statute, the Document Disposal Act. The Corporate Information Management Branch has set out Records Management schedules in order to fulfill the requirements of the Act. Those schedules outline the specific requirements for classification, retention, and disposal of government documents, including emails. I attach for your information the following:
· Schedule 102903, which differentiates between transitory documents and those that are “required for ongoing legal, fiscal, audit, administrative or operational purposes”;
· Schedule 102906, a specific schedule for government executive offices that supersedes the email policy and all other schedules and requires executive records, including emails and voicemails, to be retained for a minimum of 10 years. This schedule sets a higher standard for retention and clearly articulates that executive documents related to the development and implementation of government legislation, programs and services must be retained; and,
· Section 4 of the Operations Classification System which details the specific schedule for the Office of the Premier and clearly reflects the rules laid out in the Executive Schedule and sets a 10 year retention period for most documents.
Additionally, all schedules note that documents which may relate to legal proceedings or have legal or evidentiary value must be retained.
Given the events relating to the Legislative raids and subsequent charges it must be supposed that executives as well as all government offices involved in the BC Rail transaction would have been advised of their duty to preserve records. In that light, the failure of your government to produce the records points to a serious breach of the law and policies regarding document retention.
In 2006, another breach of information preservation took place under your government - the loss of 41 computer tapes - and as a result, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) was immediately tasked by your government with a full investigation that resulted in a report with recommendations.
For your reference, the CIO’s report was Investigation Report 2006-048, dated March 24, 2006.
Given the public concern over the sale of BC Rail, an independent investigation is called for in this case, to determine the extent of legal and policy violations as well as responsibility for those violations.
By this letter, I call on you to immediately launch an independent and public investigation to determine the reasons for the disappearance of the emails in question, to determine whether any person or persons made a decision to deliberately destroy these records and finally to determine whether all avenues have been exhausted to locate or recover them.
Additionally I ask you to ensure the independence of such an investigation. Clearly, in the interests of public accountability the investigation must be seen to be separate from government.
I urge that the investigation report to the Legislature through an appropriate body.
Leonard Krog, MLA
Official Opposition Critic for Attorney General
cc: Attorney General Mike De Jong,
Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel,
Assistant Deputy Attorney General Robert Gillen, Criminal Justice Branch;
Minister of Citizen Services and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism and the Public Affairs Bureau Ben Stewart,
Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, RCMP