© Heather Taweel/The Guardian
Release the e-gaming loan details "once and for all," says Progressive Conservative MLA James Aylward.
Aylward has been posing pointed questions to government on e-gaming for the last few years in the legislature but says he is frustrated at what he believes is a continued lack of answers both from the previous Ghiz administration and from the current MacLauchlan government on this file.
With the ruling this week from Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose ordering Innovation P.E.I. to release a one-page document it had withheld from a Guardian freedom of information request, Aylward says he is hopeful some answers might soon be forthcoming.
“Islanders are looking for openness and transparency,” Aylward said.
“The minister of finance, the premier and the minister responsible for that portfolio now have all stood behind the shield of ‘It’s before the courts,’ and ‘The auditor general has that file.’ ”
Premier Wade MacLauchlan sent the controversial e-gaming file to the auditor general for investigation after taking office last year.
A company linked to the e-gaming initiative is also suing the province for $25 million in the P.E.I. Supreme Court, alleging breach of contract, corruption, conspiracy and malicious maligning by numerous P.E.I. government officials after work on e-gaming and a proposed technology platform fell apart.
These two undertakings are indeed regularly cited by government officials and ministers as reasons they cannot comment on details of the controversial e-gaming file.
That’s why Aylward says he is pleased with the privacy commissioner’s ruling that a one-page document that lists where and how money from the e-gaming loan was to be spent must be released.
Her ruling came as a result of a review requested byThe Guardian, arguing the information should be released because it falls within the public interest.
“It’s a great decision, and I applaud this commissioner on her timely work on this file that once and for all, hopefully, will bring some resolution to it,” Aylward said.
“We know about a $950,000 loan that was filtered through a law firm and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy. I want to know what and how those monies were spent.”
The province has 30 days to decide whether to request a judicial review of Rose’s decision.
But Aylward says such an action would fly in the face of the premier’s election promise to offer a government with greater more openness and transparency.
“If they (appeal the ruling) it just proves outright this government is not open and transparent,” Aylward said.
“That’s what they ran on, so let’s get on with it and show us the facts.”
Aylward also asked Auditor General Jane MacAdam Wednesday to provide an update to the public accounts committee on her e-gaming investigation.
MacAdam says this is still an active file in her office, with at least two auditors currently working on it and conducting interviews.
She could not provide a date as to when it would be complete but did say it would not be included in the annual report that is usually tabled on the first day of the upcoming spring session of the legislature.
In the meantime, Aylward has resubmitted all the questions he has asked government about e-gaming as written questions, in the hopes this approach might elicit more answers.