Monday, January 26, 2009


An interesting piece in this morning’s Herald reminds us of the dark and petty side of the
Alberta Tories. It also tells us about the slow and creaky Alberta wheels of justice – especially when it is the Tories that have their nuts in a wringer.

See, RCMP Probe Searches For Truth Behind Withheld Alberta Tory Flight Logs,
Here’s a quick review of the facts of the story:

1. In April of 2004, an intrepid reporter for the Edmonton Journal, Charles Rusnell, embarked upon a project rarely undertaken these days by the CanWest press. He actually began an investigative reporting project.

2. The subject of his investigation was who it was that were using government of Alberta aircraft at the taxpayer’s expense. Accordingly, he asked the government for the records of who had traveled in government planes.

3. The government promised to supply the information and then reneged on the promise.

4. In June 2004, Rusnell responded to the government inaction and filed a Freedom of Information request to see the records.

5. Although the government normally had 30 days to respond, they did not. In fact they only responded 5 months later, on November 25, 2004 – 3 days after the provincial election.

6. Rusnell then filed a complaint with the office of the Information and Privacy Commission, which thereupon ordered an Oral Public Inquiry.

7. In March 2005 the inquiry was held to find out why the Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation department delayed releasing the flight information until 3 days after the provincial election in 2004.

8. During the inquiry government lawyers representing the department of Infrastructure and Transportation (to which the request for information was made) introduced in evidence an Email memo stating that senior bureaucrats within the department had been told by its freedom of information coordinator that they had to turn over the documents “on or before November 25th 2004.”

9. However, it was revealed that the Email memo entered as evidence appeared to have been altered. This was discovered because of another application filed by the diligent Rusnell under the Freedom of Information Act. As a result of that second application, Rusnell had obtained the records of the response from the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation to his original application. Among those records was the original Email memo dated November 12, 2004 which used the words “on or after November 25th.”

10. As a result of the inquiry, the Information and Privacy commissioner ruled that the Infrastructure and Transportation department deliberately delayed releasing the records of the flights until after the provincial election and manipulated Rusnell’s access to information for political reasons.

11. The question that remains outstanding is, was the Email memo intentionally altered or tampered with? If it was, it may be a criminal offence on somebody’s part within the government.

On July 18, 2008 after two years of squabbling between the RCMP and the government, the RCMP legally seized documents and computer records from Alberta government departments to look for evidence of who was behind the falsification of the Email memo.

In the warrant documents, the RCMP allege that the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation freedom of information officer who handled Rusnell’s request told police she was instructed not to release the flight log records until after the provincial election. It also alleges that an information technology employee of the department who tried to find out how the Email memo was altered was ordered to stop his investigation by a senior bureaucrat in the department.

It gets worse. Since July 18th 2008 – 6 months ago!! – the seized documents have remained sealed because government lawyers argue that the documents are protected by solicitor-client privilege.

A deal has now been struck between the cops and the government. The government is turning over all the documents they feel are not protected by solicitor-client privilege within “the next couple of weeks.” Any documents not released will be taken before a judge who will rule whether or not those documents are protected by the privilege.

Alberta Justice has hired a Special Prosecutor to handle the RCMP investigation of the government.

And don’t laugh - the government says that it is protecting its employees’ rights.

Expect more litigation, stone-walling and in all probability, some white-washing.


Albert said...

Good post. I'm just for 3 years in Alberta (Canada) an met lot of these situations. Sometimes i try to find the logics in all these actions, but can't. Where we are going and where is the end. All around is so false. Hope to get the citizenship in few months and then will imply myself in this mess. Till then I'm just watching, unfortunately.

Thanks Darryl!!!!


Darryl Raymaker said...

Thank you Albert. Get your citizenship and then get involved. Alberta needs people who are concerned about these abuses.

John Prince said...

This I think is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, with respect to what you can expect when a party has been entrenched in power for so long, and so often, in the brief history of our province. There develops a culture of entitlement and priveledge. A shack up is needed, badly!

I think I see a 'red' sun rising above the 'pukey' blue sea. :-)

Darryl Raymaker said...

This stuff has been going on for so long the Tories treat it as though it was as natural as a pension check. Let's hope the people wisen up.

Albert said...

Agree with John about red Sun and blue see. Look at this budget... OMG. Those with income will have more money, others without - nothing! This is the blue way of doing business in this country. Why? Because those with income are 93% and their votes will count like did few months ago. The Finance Minister said yesterday that the blue guys are PRAGMATIC!!!! I wish they will be OPTIMIST rather than PRA...

Darryl Raymaker said...

The Budget is Harper's Budget. It is what it is and does not require an election at this point because the Canadian people do not want an election . . . yet. The operative word is "yet." They will want an election within 9 months, and the result will be that Harper is history and the Grits will be back in power.

"Prime Minister Ignatieff!" I like the sound of that.