rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Alberta Diary

djclimenhaga's picture
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues.

Photos of shredded documents in Legislature Building prompt fears of PC document destruction spree

| May 14, 2015
Jill Clayton

If serious document destruction has actually been taking place in Alberta, chances are good it happened well before Albertans marked their ballots, let alone before their votes were counted.

For one thing, if the outgoing Progressive Conservative government led by Jim Prentice had access to quality public opinion polling -- as it most certainly did -- it would have been pretty obvious to it a few days before May 5 what was going to transpire on that day, and that the likely beneficiary would be Rachel Notley's New Democratic Party.

For another, nowadays documents are not destroyed with paper shredders as effectively as with their digital equivalents -- giant horseshoe magnets or something.

Just the same, it was the sight of bags of shredded documents in the hallways of the Legislature Building that seems to have set off a flurry of activity yesterday, with Alberta's Freedom of Information Commissioner Jill Clayton and Public Interest Commissioner Peter Hourihan holding a joint news conference in the morning to say they'd be investigating complaints that records were being improperly destroyed at Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

For her part, Premier Designate Notley asked the province’s top civil servant to order a halt to all document destruction forthwith.

The facts the photos were circulating on social media and the public is in a cynical and distrustful mood about the outgoing PCs spurred everyone to respond to the reports with a certain amount of gravitas.

Seriously, though, with the PCs securely in power for close to half a century, you can count on it that some of the most outrageous deals were done with a nudge, a wink and no written records whatsoever -- over gins and tonics in the clubhouses of pricey Rocky Mountain golf resorts and the like.

So it was a bit unrealistic for incoming Wildrose Opposition Leader Brian Jean to bleat that Notley didn’t act quickly enough when the official final vote counts won't even be completed and announced until tomorrow.

Then again, you can hardly blame the Wildrosers for trying to establish the narrative that they're on the ball, looking out for Alberta taxpayers, while getting us to forget that their caucus has about the same proportion of inexperienced MLAs as that of the new government.

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark, that party's only MLA, joined in too, having already told the media he'd be submitting numerous Freedom of Information and Privacy information requests in hopes of stopping the shredding, not that it's clear how that would stop a determined document destroyer.

Voters can take comfort from the fact everyone -- except perhaps the small Legislative cadre of PC survivors -- is anxious to uncover as much Tory dirt as possible from the past 44 years, and moreover that there’s too much stuff that happened over a span of time that long for all records to have been destroyed in a few days.

If the Notley Government wants advice on where to start looking, it could always call the CBC's estimable investigative journalist Charles Rusnell, who has made a career of uncovering records the former government would have been just as happy to leave undisturbed.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

embedded_video

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.