PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND OPPOSITION WEIGHS IN ON FAILED ONLINE GAMBLING VENTURE (Update)
Auditor Generals report triggers request for an early recall of the provincial legislature.
The failed attempt by the Prince Edward Island provincial government in Canada to launch an online gambling licensing jurisdiction in cooperation with a local First Nation tribe continued to generate strong feelings this week in reaction to the highly critical findings of the provinces auditor general, Jane MacAdam, released earlier this month.
The Opposition leader Jamie Fox wrote to the Speaker of the P.E.I. Legislature, asking him to convene the legislature ahead of schedule to allow for debate over the auditor generals damning report.
"Given the grave issues raised by the [auditor generals report] into the e-gaming scandal we feel that this is an appropriate step to take," Fox told reporters during a media conference Tuesday.
"The fall sitting of the legislature is more than a month away. Islanders dont want to wait another month for answers to their questions on the e-gaming scandal. They want answers now."
Fox observed that the AGs report concluded that the government demonstrated "a lack of due regard for transparency and accountability" and overall found that taxpayers interests were not properly protected.
The Opposition leader pointed to four major findings requiring immediate attention in the AGs report:
* Funding of Cdn$1.4 million in loans and grants to the Mikmaq Confederacy of PEI to finance the project, some of which was previously undisclosed;
* Apparent conflicts of interest involving three senior government executives including the chief of staff of former premier Robert Ghiz;
* The deletion of documents including emails, contrary to the P.E.I. Archives and Records Act;
* A lack of co-operation, at least initially, between at least one government agency (the Office of the Superintendent of Securities) and the auditor generals office.
Fox noted the Opposition has previously called for a public inquiry into the e-gaming debacle and the loss of taxpayer monies.
Approached by CBC News on the issue, PEI Speaker Buck Watts commented:
"This is a serious request, I am reviewing the matter and will respond directly to the Official Opposition in due course."
CBC reports that following the release of the AGs report, Premier Wade MacLauchlan tasked Finance Minister Allen Roach to lead government in a coordinated response to the findings.
When approached by CBC a spokesman for the finance minister said that he was not yet prepared to talk on the issue.
"He has read the report and reviewed the recommendations," the spokesperson revealed. "He is developing an overall plan to address each of them and will involve relevant departments … As the plan is developed he will be able to offer more details."
CBC reports that on Tuesday the provinces Standing Committee on Public Accounts announced it would hold a public meeting with the auditor general on October 19 to go over her e-gaming report.