Probe into leaked PNP informant emails ongoing

Teresa Wright
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A year has passed, but P.E.I.’s privacy commissioner has not yet completed her investigation into how emails written by a PNP whistleblower to a cabinet minister were obtained and released to media by the Liberal party during the provincial election.

Privacy Commissioner Maria MacDonald could not comment directly, as privacy laws prevent her from discussing her investigations.

But when asked this week whether she has filed a report yet on this investigation, MacDonald indicated nothing has yet been filed. And it will likely be some time before anything does emerge from this probe.

MacDonald said she is not even close to being finished.

In mid-September of last year, in the middle of the provincial election campaign, the P.E.I. Liberal party released private emails that were sent to former Innovation Minister Allan Campbell’s private ministerial account. The emails were accompanied by a news release attempting to discredit three former provincial civil servants making serious allegations of fraud and bribery involving the Provincial Nominee Program.

The emails were written by one of the informants, Svetlana Tenetko, to Campbell, discussing her views on the PNP and hardships she endured as a result of not having her contract with the provincial government renewed.

They were sent to Campbell’s ministerial email account. They were also marked ‘confidential.’

Premier Robert Ghiz told media at the time the emails were leaked to the Liberal party anonymously. He said he didn’t know where they came from because they came in a brown envelope.

MacDonald told The Guardian last year, before she launched her investigation, she was concerned when she saw these internal government emails containing private details being released to media.

“There’s a couple of things in there that definitely raised my eyebrow… there’s definitely some concerns with the whole thing,” MacDonald said in a Guardian interview on Sept. 16, 2011.

The RCMP are reviewing allegations that envelopes stuffed with cash were exchanged for admission to P.E.I.’s immigrant investor program. Citizenship and Immigration Canada forwarded the complaints to the Mounties and the Canada Border Services Agency last year.

Staff Sgt. Dene Williamson from the commercial crime unit of the RCMP in P.E.I. said a report on that investigation is expected within weeks.

That report will detail recommendations on whether charges should be laid or if the complaints should be dismissed.

“It is nearly complete but not complete yet,” Williamson said.

“We expected that it would be done by now but things don’t always happen as quickly as you’d like. But it shouldn’t be much longer.”

The Canada Border Services Agency closed its investigation into the allegations last November after it failed to turn up enough evidence to take any action on the file.

Organizations: RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, The Guardian Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Stormy Hatch
    September 24, 2012 - 07:32

    Could this be another reason for Premier Ghiz to have prorogued the opening of the fall legislative session to November 13th? Between this scandal and the Stop Plan B issues that are begging answers in a very timely fashion, it looks suspiciously like our own dear leader has taken a page from the Stephen Harper Book of Dirty Tricks to avoid answering some tough questions and starting to account for himself and his government. Thia proroguing was announced September 14th. Why is it that I've seen nothing in the news about this?............seems like a pretty big deal to me, especially regarding the Plan B timeline and the deadlines on the PNP investigations coming up.

  • Chucker
    September 22, 2012 - 07:28

    Yeah why have their been no search warrants in the RCMP investigation? I remember way back in 2008 or 2009 a big box of info was sent from Euston Street and up to West Royalty for stoarge somewhere. Has anybody looked at that info? Without a forensic audit of every scrap of info on PNP then it is not really an investigation, just ceremonial process sort of stuff. Really. With the Crown itself still controlled by those in question, I expect nothing from the RCMP investigation.

  • jimmy buffet
    September 21, 2012 - 21:53

    Skip the privacy commissioner this is basically an in house Gov't functionary with no teeth controlled by...the Gov't. Call in the RCMP and lets see some heads roll,lost MLA'S pensions ,maybe disbarred lawyers, where will this end this PNP horror show.Did any one ever expect closure from someone on the Gov't payroll???The only thing worse would be to complain to the Human Rights Commission to complete a cover up.

    • Human Rights Commission is a sham
      September 28, 2012 - 01:41

      So true "Jimmy Buffet". And have to agree that any complaints to the HRC would be laughable as they protect their employers (the gov;t) in conducting bias mediations, violating the human rights laws themselves to protect the gov't's interests or their own favored institutions. Get rid of HRC, at a cost of about half a million to the taxpayers. They are only a facade which makes a mockery of human rights. The only purpose for HRC on PEI is to further violate anyone who makes a complaint against one of the favored government's or their own connections. And that is favoring a huge list of people. Lots of conflicts of interests at the HRC!! I know of people who were further violated and had their rights further violated and harassed by mediator from HRC. They are so unethical, they need to have their licences taken as well. They should be charged with malfeasance in public office!! Only a sociopath could work in a human rights office while knowingly violating the rights of victims . They re-victimized victims. Sick, sick, sick,

  • Cover-up
    September 21, 2012 - 20:03

    Cover-up , Cover-up, Cover-up.....protect the people in power at all costs. The RCMP's credibility is on the line at this point as the protectors of impartial justice and the longer things are stalled public opinion may cast an undeserving shadow on Members caught up in political manuevering by Czar Ghiz.

  • Joke
    September 21, 2012 - 18:49

    There women are keeping this going as long as possible because they love the power. Nothing more. This could have been finished up in one Month.

  • Joke
    September 21, 2012 - 18:46

    Let me guess. No one go's to jail and no one get's punished and everyone get's a big fat bonus. Your right Billy,nothing will be done as usual. Same stink different pile of crap.

  • simple
    September 21, 2012 - 14:29

    It would seem that Allan Campbell broke the law. He should be charged and convicted and fired from his current job with the public service as the Premier's Chief of Staff. That aside, I agree with the comments that the content of these emails is disgusting and self-serving on the part of the lady who sent them. What gall to send something like that! Only in Tory and Liberal circles on this corrupted island.

  • Nancy
    September 21, 2012 - 14:09

    I read that PNP Letter, makes me want to PUKE!! All I want is A Job , Am I the Wrong Color or Race. Unemployed, Waiting and Waiting to hear !!!

  • Islandwoman
    September 21, 2012 - 12:30

    How can it possibly take over a year to investigate this? The emails, as displayed in the Guardian, clearly show who was logged into the computer when the emails were printed and then provided to the premier and Spencer Campbell of Stewart McKelvey,etc who then provided them to the media. Has the privacy commissioner asked Allan Campbell's assistant why she printed the emails and what she did with them after she printed them? If this Privacy Commissioner is unable or unwilling to do her job she should step aside and let someone else do it.

  • eleanor camp
    September 21, 2012 - 12:23

    some interesting points raised here, ---- our system sucks on many levels, - the senate for instcane sucking us dry with their salaries, offcie expenses and gold plated pensions, -- an outdated uselss instituion, - riding on our back. The same with our justice system, - judges appointed because of their political affiliation, --- over paid,( approx. $ 300.000 pr. annum) underworked (don't bother them during golf season) and pensioned off at 65 to the tune of voer $ 200.000 (if they wish they can hang in to 75 for the travel and the perks ) . Imagine the feast a family could have on a fraction of this pension. It is obscene. On top of that we are to respect these senators and judges, -feeding off us like parasites. (and we crucify the poor people getting EI, - these gys are worse)

  • Pete Again
    September 21, 2012 - 10:29

    Parkside Elementary School in Summerside needs an air exchange system so people can breath...but on no...lets pay thousandsof dollars to find a rat (who did us all no favours here). Weird priorities here man!

  • Immigrant
    September 21, 2012 - 10:06

    It is unfortunate that crime, such as Privacy and Confidentiality violation, has no practical chance for punishment. Bureaucratic hurdles like this call for PEI WikiLeaks.

  • hmattl
    September 21, 2012 - 10:01

    Firstly, I think The Guardian, should be congratulated on continually writing stories regarding the PNP, though I wish they would go in depth, not just scratch the surface. For one reason, or another, ...CBC has completed stopped writing any stories regarding this government , that may be considered negative, does anyone know why?

  • who knew
    September 21, 2012 - 09:45

    surprise surprise, will this never go away. Not until it is dealt with fairly. Does anyone even know how the people who came here even found out about the program and how was it presented to them and by whom. If they thought they were investing in something, then that is one thing but If they were just knowingly dumping a large amount of money for free passage under someones table then that is another. The word ( invest )..means to put out money in order to gain a financial return. They got nothing back. If they weren't rich enough or resourceful enough they wouldn't have been able to survive all of this. A list of names of who got the handouts won't help anyone. Someone knows who they are. If the money was not used properly then return it anonymously and have someone who doesn't have sticky fingers see that it is used within the proper guidelines.

  • corrupt
    September 21, 2012 - 09:34

    My name says it all.

  • Chucker
    September 21, 2012 - 08:56

    The Liberal lawyer who used these e-mails was Spencer Campbell of Stewart McKelvey, etc. As a public relations measure, this firm should disclose all funds and benefits its partners, lawyers and staff received through PNP - the direct payments and/or fees for services- and provide evidence they have paid all associated provincial and federal taxes for these payments and fees. Too often these stories become TV like crime docudramas with no substance and we miss the key point that it is all about the money and the taxes that should be paid on that money. Their lawyer ( Campbell) was out there doing these actions that currently under reviewfor the Liberal Party so the firm should help clear the air on PNP. It woud be a good example of corporate responsibility.

  • Justice is skewed and biased politically
    September 21, 2012 - 08:19

    The optics are very bad as our "justice" creeps and wavers along within party lines. The legal system stinks, the lawyers are unaccountable and our politicians care little once elected. We need to elect our judges for fixed terms.

  • Checker
    September 21, 2012 - 08:08

    What else is new!! Justice Cheverie is still sitting on his ruling as well!! The PNP investigation is a cover up not unlike the Bernie Madoff fraud. There are too many feeders in Charlottetown who have made millions of dollars , most undeserved. The feeling seems to be there may well have improprieties , rules broken or overlooked completely and a lot of money spread out among politicians, liberal party supporters , seven accounting firms and lawyers but what the was our fraud. If I am not mistaken, Ms. MacDonald has a legislated time within which she must complete her report or explain why it has not been completed. At least that is the protocol but hey...who in government is going to ask. Where are you Olive??

  • This will not go away
    September 21, 2012 - 08:05

    I know investigations take time and require the I's dotted and the T's crossed..but over the course of 1 year you would think some progress would have been made....Is the commissioner facing a political (from legal advice) roadblock? because it could be embarrassing to the sitting Govt.?...Is she waiting for the this govt to complete another year in their that if heads roll..some people will be eligible for pensions? Is she waiting for the RCMP to complete their investigation..(Commercial Crime investigations have a"history" of NO CHARGES LAID.. here and in Nova Scotia ie: Roland Thornhill))...why :the crown feels there is no likelihood of a conviction...that can be open to interpretation)....Did it ever occur to anybody to bring in an outside RCMP agency to do the probe?.(.then again they would have to get by the local Crown)..The RCMP contract for 20 yr was signed by this govt technically they work for the Govt.........also the Computer tech's who work for the govt can trace the e-mails back to a computer and a PRINTER ....with no problem. even a private home computer....if they can't the RCMP IT people can.......There are lots of questions here........The main problem regardless of the personalities and politics involved ,seen 3 island women who exercised their right under the Charter , have their privacy violated .At the same time you had Liberal party high archy like Spencer Campbell (who is not elected) immediately go to the press for damage control...with copies of the so called e-mails at his disposal..unless he was retained as counsel(and he should have said so in the media)..what right does he have to access Govt correspondence.?.who gave it to him and his peers in the party???Who is running this province..the party or a Govt?? These questions should be pursued in by a competent investigator...if the Privacy Commissioner ,which is a partime position cannot do it properly or on time ..she should advise the appropriate body now..instead of delaying it any farther or saying down the road she did not have the proper tools to do the probe.............In some investigations delays fade the memories of people and the seriousness of the allegations...but it will not happen in this case ..Islanders and non-islanders alike are watching how this is file is being handled with great interest ....a lot of political insiders(in both parties) were financially enriched by the PNP program....if it was legal and above board let's get on with running this province.........if there were violations of statutes, provincial or federal..justice must be done or seen to be done..if NOT will expose a very serious issue of confidence in our way or governance and legal system

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    September 21, 2012 - 07:35

    We should foster an environment in which whistle blowers aren't vilified. The whistle blowers should get a thanks and not be investigated. We all know how this current gang of thieves operates. Getting any type of fair and impartial investigation into the pnp program is never going to happen. Not one cabinet minister will be held accountable. As always this will be swept under the rug unless the federal government gets revenue canada to open up its investigation. Ghiz only fears the feds. This is why he flip flopped on the HST issue. This is why the people should band together and throw out this bunch of crooks and I wouldn't wait for an election.

  • Who tells a judge to get the lead out of his pants
    September 21, 2012 - 07:26

    Judges are very exclusive and they do not like to be pushed because they do not feel they have to answer to anyone. Judges can drag out anything as long as they want but what about the responsibility. We need to elect judges, particularly in backwaters like Charlottetown where most the professionals role play for a living. Judge Cheverie is a Liberal appointee reviewing a Liberal mess and stalling it as long as possible. We need judges with teeth that are accountable to the public and they should be elected by the people. Our legal system is not for the people and this is a major flaw which we are seeing with Cheverie. thanks eh

  • Jiminy
    September 21, 2012 - 05:49

    I understand that a reporter can only cover so many points in a story especially one with such a massive history as the PEI PNP scandal. So posters can, will, and do provide more background to tell help round out these stories. The Minister in charge of the confidential documents was then Innovation Minister Allan Campbell who was defeated by Souris area voters in the last election and was almost immediately appointed ot the role of Chief of Staff in the Premier's Office by Robert Ghiz. Allan Campbell had ministerial responsibility for more than two years prior to his electoral defeat. The Liberal Party official who used these confidentail documents publicly was lawyer Spencer Campbell who had served as a very high ranking official in Catherine Callbeck' s Liberal government during the 7.5 rollback in the 1990s. And oh yes the CBSA did not ' fail' to do anything. They simply referred matters outside of their statutory jurisdiction to the RCMP. As the stroy indicates that was 10 months ago, Back in August of this year the RCMP indicated they would complete their investigation by the end of that month. Now in this story they indicated that the expected date is early October. About one month ago the RCMP stated they had made no search warrants. Hope this helps. Thanks.