In December 2016 Information and Privacy commissioner Brian Beamish revealed that he was deeply concerned over findings that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change falsified dates on 18% of FOI requests from at least the period of 2010-2015 to improve their compliance statistics. This is very alarming, as multiple environmental health crises have plagued many areas of Ontario and controversy surrounding these crises runs deep.
In an attempt to learn more about the corruption of the MOECC I contacted their media department and spoke with Gary Wheeler from their Communications Branch. I spoke with Mr. Wheeler on the telephone and explained I was a journalist for Free Bird Media, and that I was inquiring about the falsifying of records at the MOECC and what the records that were falsified were related to. Mr. Wheeler was very polite to me and told me to email him with my specific questions and he would do his best to get back to me in a reasonable amount of time. I emailed Mr. Wheeler, and after an initial friendly email exchange, on March 2nd I sent him my five specific questions for him. I have not yet heard back from him, although I have sent him a follow up email asking him if he is still able to answer my questions. These are the five questions asked in my email:
1. What are the names of the people who were caught falsifying information?
2. What information was found to be falsified? The IPC letter focused only on the falsification of the dates of the FOI requests. But was it discovered that other falsifications had happened within the Ministry?
3. What impacts did the falsification have on MOECC day-to-day operations?
4. Why were the dates falsified in the first place? What motives did the officer(s) have to falsify information?
5. How were the offenders disciplined? Were they terminated?
Corruption of this magnitude within a government agency is a major problem and destroys our ability to have a true democracy in this country. Falsifying statistics completely erodes public trust, a public trust which the Ontario Liberals have already made extremely shaky.
Aside from a very brief article in the Toronto Star, this issue has received essentially zero attention from the mainstream media.
Anyone interested in this issue is urged to contact the following government sources and ask for clarification on what this corruption centres around.