Despite promising to stop using his partisan e-mail account for government business, it was revealed this week that the Premier is not only still using this account but, at least once, he used it to strategize about the Sask. Party’s GTH scandal and discuss information that he should not have legally had access to.
“When the news of the Premier’s private e-mail account first broke, our main concerns were that the international trade negotiations he was discussing with it were not secure and we asked what else he could be hiding on this e-mail server housed at the Sask. Party headquarters,” said NDP leader Nicole Sarauer. “Now, we find out that he is still using it, is discussing communications strategies for the Sask. Party’s GTH scandal and – at best – turning a blind eye while senior Sask. Party operatives blatantly disregard legal differences between the bureaucracy, the Saskatchewan government and the Sask. Party.”
In an e-mail that was accidently also sent to a journalist, a senior official in the Premier’s office tells the Premier that Laurie Pushor – the current Economy Deputy Minister and former advisor to Bill Boyd during the land deals at the centre of the Sask. Party’s GTH scandal – acquired personal information about who had made specific Freedom of Information requests regarding the scandal.
“Freedom of Information laws exist to ensure transparency and to keep the government honest. This is public information and people need to know they can make these requests and access this information without the government interfering or breaking the law,” said Sarauer. “Neither the Deputy Minister nor anyone in the Premier’s office should ever have known who made the requests let alone use this information as part of their attempts to avoid accountability with their GTH scandal.”
The Premier’s office has said that the Premier broke his promise to stop using this partisan server because his government email server was down for two weeks.
“That’s the equivalent of ‘my dog ate my homework.’ It’s not believable and frankly, it’s insulting to the people of Saskatchewan,” said Sarauer. “The Sask. Party are more interested in covering up their scandal than being transparent, coming clean, or even following the law.”
The NDP have asked the Privacy Commissioner to look into the Premier’s use of the private email server housed at Sask. Party offices and to investigate how his senior staff came to have the private information they were sharing and if it is part of a bigger cover-up.