Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for May 2, 2012

Clerical error spurred questions based on false premise

An access to information error led to false accusations and an apology in the legislative assembly Tuesday.

An access to information error led to false accusations and an apology in the legislative assembly Tuesday.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson and Jim Tredger, the party’s house leader, both queried Premier Darrell Pasloski during question period on his party’s position on the Peel watershed planning process.

Both Hanson and Tredger mistakenly charged the government with developing its eight principles on the Peel planning process in 2010 rather than Valentine’s Day of this year, when they were released to the public.

In a response the NDP received to an access to information request, it appeared the eight principles were developed two years earlier and were originally intended to be released along with a February 2010 press release on the Peel’s future.

It has since been discovered that an error was made by the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) during the compilation of documents for the access request.

In fact, those eight principles were not developed in 2010, as it appears in the documents sent to the NDP.

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers repeatedly told the NDP’s questioners it was wrong for them to suggest the Peel principles had been prepared for release in 2010, a time when most current Yukon Party MLAs weren’t in office.

Before the legislature adjourned for the day, Hanson apologized for the mistake.

“The Department of Energy, Mines and Resources recently informed us that the document we received contained a serious collation error,” Hanson said during herapology.

“Specifically, the eight Peel principles should not have been attached to the preceding document dated February 2010. The Department of Energy, Mines and Resources has apologized for this mistake.

“I wish to offer an unqualified apology to the premier for the assertion we made that we now know to be wholly and unequivocally false,” she said.

“We always attempt to conduct our business in this house in good faith. We accepted the accuracy of the government document we received and proceeded on that understanding.

We sincerely regret this unfortunate situation.”

Mark Roberts, EMR’s communications director, said the department isn’t exactly sure how the mistake happened.

The co-ordinator of access to information requests sends out requests for documents relating to a specific access request.

Department staff provide the coordinator with paper copies of any required documents. The documents are then reviewed, copied and numbered, said Roberts.

The NDP was provided with more than 600 pages in response to its access request.

Somehow, the eight Peel principles were included in the wrong set of documents from 2010.

In her final report, Tracy-Anne McPhee, the former information and privacy commissioner whose term ended in April, made several recommendations to strengthen and modernize the access to information program in the Yukon.

“An updated and co-ordinated record management system is required so that public bodies can respond efficiently to access requests and protect privacy,” she said in her report. As is “training and consistent support for ATIPP co-ordinators.”

“ATIPP guidelines and practices must be developed to help ATIPP coordinators and others comply with the act and apply it consistently,” her report said.

CommentsAdd a comment

Krysta Meekins

May 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Granted that the NDP were acting out of confusion and believed their information to be accurate, the extreme manner in which the Official Opposition chose to attack the Government still bears mention.

A few quotes from Tuesday’s heated Question Period:

Ms. Hanson:  “.....This government now has a serious credibility and trust issue with Yukoners. They ran on a promise of open and accountable government, but we know now that this is not how the Yukon Party governs. How will this government rebuild the trust with the Yukon public that has been seriously damaged?”

Mr. Tredger:  “.....Will the Premier tell this House why anyone would trust the Yukon Party government in any future land use planning processes?”

Mr. Tredger:    “.....This situation is not befitting of an open and honest government. Will the Premier explain to Yukoners why anyone should trust his government when it withholds its position on such important issues?”

Perhaps the opposition should step back, regroup, and pose some of those “credibility”, “respect” and “trust” questions to their own caucus.

Handy Andy

May 3, 2012 at 12:33 am

A ‘clerical error’?  Yeah right. I smell a setup, they deliberately gave her the wrong info to watch her go down in flames in the ledge.

flyingfur

May 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

This does not change anything as far as I’m concerned.  The Yukon Party engaged in the process of public review of this issue and they then ignored the results of that process, not to mention changed the initial overview when Environment officials suggested something that was not in line with their plan.  The wrong information came from a department which is overseen by a minister of the Yukon Party remember.

srd

May 6, 2012 at 12:04 am

Maybe they deliberately gave her the wrong information, or maybe it was correct, and they masked it as a clerical error. I have to doubt that the NDP didn’t do due diligence before they stuck their neck out like that, and for some reason now they have to swallow what the department told them.

Even if you believe EMR, it seems to me the abject apology should be coming from them. If they undermined a cabinet minister like that, heads would be rolling. Opposition members need to be able to trust the information they’re getting, and not fear either setups or incompetence.

Add a comment

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your full name and email address are required before your comment will be posted.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.

Comment preview