B.C. premier Christy Clark has essentially stopped using email, a response to a freedom-of-information (FOI) request suggests. Either that or she has been sending emails and then deleting them.
If the latter is true, it would contradict an order Clark gave in response to a scathing report on government record-keeping that the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of B.C. (OIPC) released on October 22.
“I’ve told everyone at the political level, ministers, political staff, even if it’s clearly a transitory document that you are required by law to delete—I want you to keep it,” Clarksaid on October 23.
Yet an FOI request for all emails Clark sent from October 19 to 22 and from October 26 to 29 turned up just one document.
“Can you send me a copy of that note you typed us for me recently and stuck in my book?” the sender wrote to communications coordinator Chelsea Dolan. (The sender’s name is redacted but it can be assumed it was Clark, given the parameters of the FOI request.)
The Straight previously reported that a request for Clark’s emails from a two-week period in December 2014 produced no records.
The premier’s office did not grant an interview.
The request for Clark’s October correspondence was filed by the NDP. David Eby, New Democrat MLA for Vancouver–Point Grey, told the Straight the lack of records the request produced is noteworthy because it shows that Clark’s email habits did not change despite her instructing staff to retain their communications.
“It is hard for me to imagine how you could be the premier and have one email over two weeks,” Eby said. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me and strongly suggests she is either deleting her own emails or she is not using email to avoid creating records that could be FOI’d.”
The OIPC’s October 22 report details how employees in the premier’s office plus staff at two ministries had “triple deleted” emails, taking extra steps to expunge records from computers. In addition, the OIPC has accused one employee with the Ministry of Transportation of giving false testimony about the practice while he was under oath. That case has been forwarded to the RCMP.
Clark has repeatedly claimed that email is not her preferred means of communication and said she conducts government business face to face.
The premier tapped former B.C. privacy commissioner David Loukidelis to instruct the government on how it should implement recommendations outlined in the OIPC’s October 22 report. As the Straight went to press, Loukidelis was scheduled to present his findings on December 16. (Update: Loukidelis’s report can be found here.)
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This article originally appeared in print and online at Straight.com on December 16, 2015.