Byrne Challenges King Government on Transparency on E-gaming File

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Charlottetown January 22, 2020.. Joe Byrne, Leader of the Island New Democrats, is challenging the King government to live up to the commitment to transparency made during the Conservative leadership and the 2019 election.

There are currently 6 separate requests for e-gaming documents for which the King government is refusing to release government records, in accordance with PEI’s Access to Information and Privacy Act.

“One of the pillars of Dennis King’s campaign for the Conservative party leadership and in the general election was a commitment to accountability and transparency” states Byrne. “The King government was handed a gift in the opportunity to apply both of these principles to the secret e-gaming file, and there now appears to be a serious disconnect between words and deeds.”

The last few legislative sessions of the MacLauchlan regime were marked by many questions from the Official Opposition trying to get to the bottom of the failed attempt to create a financial services hub in PEI. The initial efforts by the Ghiz government were conducted in secrecy and outside the normal checks and balances of parliamentary democracy.

“When the Cabinet Ministers in this government were sitting on the Opposition Bench, they did a good job of trying to get to the bottom of this e-gaming scheme. The principal actors involved decided to keep Cabinet in the dark. It was wrong then, and it’s still wrong now. It is disappointing that the King government now has access to all the information and is still not releasing details to Islanders,” says Byrne.

We are seeing exactly the same cover-up with the current government that was exhibited during both the Ghiz and MacLauchlan tenures; and quite frankly, the Official Opposition has not been doing it’s job, never mentioning e-gaming once in two sittings of the Legislative Assembly.”

There are two questions on spending that New Democrats are asking on this file: How much has this cost Islanders to date and how much more is it expected to cost given the current appeal before the courts and the number of Freedom of Information requests that are in deemed refusal.

Byrne concludes that, “This has cost Islanders money, lots of money, and the King administration should be tallying up those costs and making them public. More importantly we have to get to the roots of why small groups of people in PEI feel that they can use their personal connections to government for private gain?

Here on PEI, Joe has worked on numerous social programs in rural communities. He has done field work on issues faced by university and college students, has been Director of Youth Ministry, and has also coordinated pastoral planning for the diocese. He remains active in the Latin American Mission Program, and is President of the Cooper Institute, a grass-roots collective for community development. He also counts among his volunteer and community work Charlottetown Abbies soccer, church Youth and Music ministries, Voluntary Resource Council, Peace Vigil Group, Atlantic Council for International Cooperation, Canada World Youth, and Katimavik hosting. He keeps up his interaction with young people as a part-time instructor for the Abegweit Driving School. All of this, he does in addition to his work in the NDP. His vast array of church and community experiences have helped him cultivate his skills in communication, organization, and consensus building, and also brought him the joy of forming hundreds of friendships.

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