PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND ONLINE GAMBLING DEBACLE LINGERS ON
28th June, 2016 at 09:06:05
Province's auditor general won't deliver e-gaming report until the fall - Opposition protests.
The 2011 debacle that was Prince Edward Island's abortive attempt to set up a tribal online gambling licensing jurisdiction continues to excite political criticism and debate, with the Canadian province's parliament currently awaiting the provincial auditor general's report on the issue.
Unfortunately, and to the frustration of the Opposition NDP, that will now not be forthcoming until the fall.
This week Auditor General Jane MacAdam revealed in response to a press enquiry that her report will not be available until the fall
MacAdam said: "Our field work is substantially complete. However, some information we requested it still outstanding."
CBC News asked MacAdam what information was outstanding, but she could not elaborate.
MacAdam says drafting of the report is to begin in late June, and that will include reviews and discussions with senior management and any third parties referenced in the report.
"Given that summer is upon us, we expect to experience delays in the reporting phase. Due to vacation schedules, some of these individuals may not be readily available to review and discuss relevant sections of the draft report," she said.
In a media release responding to the Auditor General's comments on the delay, P.E.I. NDP Leader Mike Redmond expressed dismay over the length of time it's taking to review the e-gaming file.
"It has now been almost a year and a half [since the AG was tasked with the review], and still no report," Redmond said. "Why the delays and what is the overall cost of the investigations?"
Redmond referenced provincial premier Wade MacLaughlan's December 2015 interview with CBC News in which he said he expected the auditor general's report to be released "in the first quarter, or certainly in the first several months of 2016."
P.E.I.'s public accounts committee tasked the auditor general with conducting an investigation into the e-gaming initiative in February 2015. A month later, MacLauchlan said he would also ask the auditor general to investigate.
In the lead-up to the May 4, 2015 provincial election, the NDP said a judicial inquiry was needed, while the PCs promised a royal commission.
This week a frustrated Opposition leader said: "We stand by our call for a full public inquiry. The only reasonable avenue in restoring the public's trust in our public institutions is a full review of this file."
readers will recall that In December 2011, the P.E.I. government provided a loan worth $950,000 to the tribal Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI with a view to setting up a First Nation regulatory jurisdiction in order to generate new revenue.
The loan was to be repaid from e-gaming revenues generated by the jurisdiction, but the venture failed and a jurisdiction never materialised; the tribe has not paid back the money on these grounds.
Capital Market Technologies, a company which claimed it had been involved in the abortive e-gaming venture, filed litigation against the provincial government in April 2015, suing for millions of dollars. That claim was thrown out by the PEI Supreme Court, which ordered CMT to pay Cdn$ 74,000 in costs.
But the political acrimony and the loss of almost a million dollars of taxpayer money in the tribal loan linger on.
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