BY KEVIN ARSENAULT
On Nov. 27, 2014, the Guardian submitted a FOIPP request seeking a copy of the $950,000 e-gaming loan agreement between the provincial government and the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. (MCPEI). The Guardian eventually obtained a copy of the loan contract in November 2015; however, the proposed budget for the loan was withheld.
The Guardian asked the privacy commissioner to review the matter, and the commissioner issued her decision on February 18, 2016, ordering the government to release the budget document in its entirety.
After receiving the document, the Guardian published an article on March 15, 2016 titled, “P.E.I. Government releases e-gaming documents,” providing a link to the loan budget. The budget had 13 line items, each containing a description of a “deliverable” with a corresponding “amount.”
I recently obtained a number of new e-gaming documents filed in the P.E.I. Supreme Court by Capital Markets Technology (CMT). One document was a memo from McInnis Cooper lawyer, Kevin Kiley, to Mike O'Brien, dated September 25, 2012, which discussed the final version of the $950,000 loan application budget which McInnis Cooper put together and submitted to Innovation P.E.I. on behalf of MCPEI.
In that memo, Kiley states: “We were requested to create a Business Plan for the Confederacy to be submitted to Innovation P.E.I.,” adding that it was the “final version . . . broken down as follows.” That budget had 16 line items, including three “third party” contracts totalling $185,000, all of which were absent from the version provided to the Guardian. In fact, the Guardian version didn't even add up to $950,000, but only $925,000.
A comparative analysis of the two versions of the budgets - the one submitted to Innovation P.E.I., and the one provided to the Guardian - reveals that the Guardian's version was missing three line items entirely, and three other line items were altered with arbitrary and significant increases matching exactly the three missing third party contract amounts: the missing $75,000 allocated for Patrick Orr was added to line item #2; the missing $50,000 allocated for Edleman Canada was added to line item #3; and the missing $60,000 allocated for Simplex was added to line item #12. Did the $25,000 discrepancy in the total amount ($925,000 with the Guardian version rather than $950,000 in the original submitted version) result from a reduction of exactly that amount in line item #7?
I have provided a PDF version of that article to the privacy commissioner. The privacy commissioner has indicated she intends to review both her Order and my research, and respond to me by the end of October.
Kevin J Arsenault obtained his PhD in ethics from McGill University and lives in Ft. Augustus.