This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Ontarians have learned more and more over the past year about senior Liberal staffers destroying emails and records related to the half billion dollar gas plant scandal. A Private Members Bill put forward by NDP MPP Peter Tabuns will give teeth to Ontario’s Archives and Recordkeeping Act to ensure that there are penalties for destroying important public records. Tabuns’ Bill, which would go a long way to increasing accountability, today passed second reading.
“Ontarians have heard Liberal staffer after Liberal staffer say they deleted all their emails about the gas plants, to make sure Ontarians don’t get answers. This bill would ensure that people destroying public records are subject to real penalties,” said Tabuns. “While the Liberals and PCs have talked about accountability, New Democrats are working to deliver real results that will make Queen’s Park more accountable no matter which party is in government.”
The Liberal government passed the Archives and Recordkeeping Act with much fanfare in 2006 and then proceeded to ignore it. Staffers including the Premier’s Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff to the Minister of Energy regularly deleted key emails, and the Premier’s Office destroyed emails belonging to key staffers in the scandal.
Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner commented on the destruction of important public records. She wrote in her report Deleting Accountability, “It is difficult to accept that the routine deletion of e-mails was not in fact an attempt by staff in the former Minister’s office to avoid transparency and accountability in relation to their work… I do not need to emphasize how disturbing the intentional deletion of government business records is in a free and democratic society.”
“People want to trust their government, but after watching the way the Liberal government has put their own political skins ahead of the people of Ontario they find that tough,” continued Tabuns. “Today the bill passed an important step. New Democrats will keep working to ensure this becomes law and we are able to deliver real results in terms of accountability and transparency.”
Peter Tabuns is an NDP member of the Standing Committee on Justice which is currently investigating the gas plants scandal, and the deletion of key emails.