Opposition MLA James Aylward says he wants a full accounting of how the $950,000 e-gaming loan was spent and will not stop asking until this information is released.
Aylward was reacting Tuesday to the release Monday of a one-page document outlining the "Proposed Budget" of the controversial e-gaming initiative.
The document was released thanks to a successful challenge by The Guardian through freedom of information law for the full loan contract signed between the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. and Innovation P.E.I.
But the document contains only a generalized list of proposed deliverables and dollar figures. Only one recipient is specifically referenced – the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. (MCPEI) is listed as being owed $100,000 for “expenditures already funded.”
Aylward notes questions about e-gaming have been raised in the media, the public and in the legislature for the last several years, yet many of these questions remain unanswered.
“I want to know what the actuals were. I want to know where the money was spent, who were the recipients of these funds, keeping in mind that this is taxpayers’ dollars,” Aylward said.
“Wade MacLauchlan was elected on a platform of openness and transparency… it’s time for him to step up to the plate, and once and for all do what they campaigned on – be open and transparent.”
NDP Leader Mike Redmond agreed.
“Where did the money go?” he said Tuesday.
Redmond believes a judicial inquiry into e-gaming is needed to restore the public’s faith in the provincial government.
“Here we are again talking about e-gaming — a secret deal, no one was privy to it, there was investors and along the line $1 million was spent — and we can’t get any information about it,” Redmond says.
“People want to know what happened to this money… and when media agencies like The Guardian or CBC have to go and fish and FOIPP information, that’s not a good example of open and transparent government. And that’s where people lose confidence with our legislative process and our political institutions.”
That’s why both he and Aylward hope government will release a detailed accounting of how the e-gaming loan money was spent.
The loan funded the work of a secret gaming committee that worked on a proposal to make Prince Edward Island an Internet gambling regulator for Canada.
The plan was scrapped in February 2012 after legal and technical challenges were identified.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan sent the entire e-gaming file to the auditor general for investigation after taking office last year. That investigation is ongoing.
When asked whether taxpayers would be on the hook for the $950,000 loan, MacLauchlan suggested in December that would indeed be the likely outcome.
“Yes, I expect so, but we’ll just have to find out what the outcome (of the auditor general’s investigation) and, in fact, to respond accordingly.”