It was inefficient, it had a high staff turnover rate, it hadn't prepared a business plan and...it was redundant. These are the explanations gaming minister Rich Coleman has given for why the province's anti-illegal gaming team was shutdown. This, despite warnings such a decision would mean many of those crimes would go uninvestigated, allowing high-level criminals to operate with impunity. Records obtained by Public Eye via freedom of information requests show there is something to what the minister has been saying.
For example, an effectiveness review submitted to the ministry of public safety and solicitor general in January 2008 acknowledged, that turnover - which was part of larger trend within the RCMP - had resulted in some vacancies within the integrated illegal gaming enforcement team. Other vacancies "were deliberately held open to free up resources" to fund a major Internet gaming investigation.
But, according to the meeting minutes for the team's consultative board, staffing levels "continued to be an issue" as of December 2008. And a December 2007 business case prepared by the team's two senior members described IIGET's results as being "modest" due to budget limitations.
But here's what continues to confound us: neither of those reports recommended shuttering the team - quite the opposite. Other records obtained by Public Eye also show the RCMP and the minister's own communications staff were offering opposing explanations for its closure - citing funding pressures and the need to focus on other policing priorities. And those explanations are more consistent with what the team's former unit commander Fred Pinnock told us last year during an interview in which he questioned the government"s commitment to "meaningful" illegal gaming investigations.
So what was the minister's response to that inconsistency? Well, you can see for yourself what he had to say when we spoke to him last week in his office.
The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned public affairs bureau and RCMP documents explaining the closure of IIGET.