Stephen Harper’s Office “Illegally Erased Documents”

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to “come clean” over the deletion of an email account belonging to a former PMO staffer involved in negotiations over the repayment of Senator Mike Duffy’s ineligible expenses.

“Stephen Harper’s employees, for whom he is responsible, have illegally erased documents that had an important involvement in an ongoing investigation and Prime Minister Harper has to start explaining himself,” Mulcair told reporters in a press conference across from Parliament Hill Wednesday.

The emails were later recovered during the course of an RCMP investigation into a payment to Duffy from Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.

Muclair was reacting to a news report that said memos to IT staff in the Privy Council Office (PCO), the non-partisan administrative arm of the Prime Minister’s Office, had instructed them not to delete the accounts of departing staff.

Nevertheless, days after the memos were sent, an account belonging to Benjamin Perrin was apparently deleted when he left his job in late March 2013. Perrin was legal counsel to the prime minister and had been involved in discussions within the PMO on how to deal with Duffy’s expenses.

Until then, it had been policy for departing staff to ensure emails for ongoing files were forwarded to the appropriate officials or put in electronic storage.

Emails recovered

The account deletion first became public in November 2013, when court documents about the probe were made public.

But days after the court documents were released, PCO officials announced they hadn’t deleted the emails: in fact, Perrin’s account had been frozen “due to unrelated litigation.”

New court records obtained by CBC News suggest the information in Perrin’s account may have been provided to the RCMP in January 2014.

Despite the apparent recovery of the emails, Mulcair called Tuesday for an investigation into the account deletion.

“Canadians have a right to know what went on and destroying that type of evidence as they’ve done by deleting the emails simply puts another circle around that big stain of what the Conservatives have been doing: hiding information, trying to block Canadians’ understanding of the big lie that they constructed with Mike Duffy.

“These are emails that would have gone right to the heart of this matter and that’s why they erased them,” Mulcair said.

(Read the full article at CBC)

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