Some provincial Liberal political aides "double-deleted" emails in an attempt to keep their communications confidential, Public Eye has exclusively learned. The aides believed "double-deleting" would prevent their emails from being saved by the government's back-up tapes, according to sources familiar with the practice. Here's how it worked: the aides would delete messages from their Outlook inbox and then empty the program's deleted messages folder. It's unclear how widespread "double-deleting" was or whether that practice presently continues.
Aides were never instructed or advised to "double-delete" their emails. Nevertheless, it's one more reason to question just how committed the Liberals have been to running the most open and accountable government in Canada - a promise they made in the 2001 election platform.
Among the others: six years ago, the premier's then deputy minister admitted to deleting most of his emails to avoid them being caught by media fishing expeditions.
Recently, the government also acknowledged it had overwritten backup tapes that contained high-level emails dating from 2003 and prior. Legislature raid trial defence lawyers had requested those and other emails. But the court was told those tapes were overwritten in the course of standard government practice.
A government spokesperson declined to say whether "double-deleting" would actually have prevented emails from being backed-up because it's "a matter that is before the courts and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time."