EDITORIAL: Clark’s explanation does not compute

Premier's explanations regarding deleted emails show lack of understanding with regard to public trust, confidence.

Several years ago, Premier Christy Clark promised a new era of accountability.

We assumed that would mean politicians and bureaucrats alike would be putting their decisions and decision-making processes out to the public for all to witness.

Instead, what we have is an era in which ministers and government staff alike have been in the habit of ‘triple-deleting’ emailed correspondence – not simply deleting emails from their computers, but also from their electronic trash folders and backup servers.

Simply put, emails – untold thousands of them  that should have been part of the public record –have simply ‘disappeared.’

B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham – in last week’s withering report on her investigation of Freedom of Information requests concerning the Highway of Tears case – says it is “difficult to overstate the seriousness of the problem… and the resulting effects on the integrity of the access to information process in our province.”

However, what it seems to have come down to for the premier, in her account before the Legislature, is that government communications were being triple-deleted because emails are new technology, and there is no consistent understanding among her staff on how to treat them. She followed Denham’s report with an order that all ministers and political staff must keep every email they send until new procedures are in place.

(It should be noted the premier has said her new no-delete policy won’t affect her, as she rarely uses email for government business.)

It is not surprising that many have trouble with Clark’s explanation. This is 2015, after all. Not 1995, nor even 2005. Many of us, by now, have mastered the concept of email. We might delete old correspondence. But most of us are not in government, with a responsibility to be able to produce key communications when asked.

Chances are that most private individuals do not employ a triple-delete protocol. We would do that only if… well, if we had something to hide.

And that is why Clark’s explanations won’t wash. Triple-deleting is the electronic equivalent of shredding documents. That it is being done on such a scale is disturbing. In the old, paper-trail days, such wilful destruction would have involved hundreds of truckloads of files being hauled to the incinerator.

Clark’s glib explanations show more than a troubling lack of understanding for the need for public trust and confidence. They show a contempt for the intelligence of the public itself.

Just Posted

Surrey Board of Trade fears SkyTrain expansion will impede other transit needs

‘We need transit improvements in all of Surrey,’ Anita Huberman says

Surrey RCMP, firefighters support Cloverdale boy’s lonely lemonade stand

Parker, 7, had few takers until Surrey first responders heard his call

North Delta Secondary teacher up for B.C. education award

Prabhjot Grewal is up for a Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education in the Outstanding New Teacher category

Public hearing set for two Surrey modular housing projects for homeless

Surrey council set to vote Monday on projects in Guildford, Whalley

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

HISTORY: Surrey hoedowns and ‘moonlight dances’ were the place to be

Dancing, revelry united community members of all ages

Most Read

l -->