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BC info office may investigate Haakstad's use of private email to send outreach plan

B.C.'s information and privacy office has collected information about the Multicultural Outreach Strategy sent by Premier Christy Clark's recently resigned deputy chief-of-staff Kim Haakstad from a private email account, and will determine in coming days whether its contents raise compliance issues with the province's access and privacy law, The Tyee's Bob Mackin has learned.

Haakstad used her private email address on Jan. 10, 2012 to send the BC Liberal strategy to other Clark aides and set-up meetings on government time to discuss the plan, which would use government resources to win ethnic votes in the 2013 election. The strategy was leaked by the opposition New Democrats on Feb. 27.

Yesterday B.C.'s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham released her investigation into an increase in no responsive records to general B.C. government access to information requests, as Bob Mackin reported in detail.

The investigation specifically focused on the lack of records released by the premier's office about the Sept. 7, 2012 Metchosin golf tournament and party at the Bard and Banker Pub in Victoria, and the investigation into an "incident of concern" that led to the premier's former chief of staff Ken Boessenkool's resignation in September 2012.

The commissioner found that Haakstad may have destroyed records about Boessenkool's resignation, but she did not violate the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act because the records were considered "transitory," meaning of temporary usefulness.

Spokeswoman for the commissioner's office Cara McGregor later confirmed to Mackin that Haakstad was not under oath when she spoke with Denham. "She cooperated fully with our investigation," McGregor told Mackin yesterday.

But in light of the leaked strategy and Haakstad's use of a private email to send it, Commissioner Denham is now considering a full investigation.

Read Mackin's full report, which includes details on the commissioner's recommendations following her initial investigation, here.

Robyn Smith reports for The Tyee. With files from Bob Mackin.

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