No emails found between Alberta premier’s office, prosecution following weekend search, justice ministry says

A search of practically one million authorities emails found no proof of contact between Alberta premier’s workplace employees and the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, the province’s justice ministry says.

Public service workers, who’re non-partisan, carried out a weekend search “for any emails despatched to or acquired by the related prosecutors and employees within the premier’s workplace” throughout a four-month interval, mentioned a press release from the justice ministry Monday.

The public service fee and IT specialists carried out the search between Friday and Sunday and reviewed incoming, outgoing and deleted emails, the assertion mentioned.

Premier Danielle Smith mentioned on Saturday she had requested for the search after CBC News reported on Thursday {that a} premier’s workplace staffer despatched a collection of emails to Crown prosecutors, difficult their evaluation and path on courtroom circumstances linked to final 12 months’s Coutts border blockade and protests.

Sources advised CBC News the staffer despatched the emails final fall that critiqued prosecutors’ evaluation of expenses laid and pushed again on characterizations of the protests.

CBC News has not seen the emails.

Smith mentioned in a Monday morning assertion that she is assured within the integrity and professionalism of her employees and grateful to the general public service for conducting the weekend evaluate.

“An impartial Crown prosecution service, free from political interference, is integral to the preservation of public confidence within the justice system,” Smith mentioned within the assertion.

In an e mail, Chuck Thompson, head of public affairs for CBC, mentioned the group stands behind the journalism within the story.

Thompson mentioned any details about sources is confidential.

In an e mail Monday, Charles Mainville, director of communications for Alberta Justice, mentioned the e-mail search included 900 mailboxes, and would seize any messages despatched between authorities of Alberta addresses and non-government ones.

The actual search phrases are a part of an investigation, and confidential, he mentioned.

Crown prosecutor emails have been searched between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022, and premier’s workplace emails have been searched between Oct. 6 and Dec. 31. 2022. Smith received the UCP management on Oct. 6.

Mainville would not specify whether or not all premier’s workplace employees and all Crown prosecutors have been included within the search.

“To shield the confidentiality of investigatory processes, additional particulars can’t be offered,” he mentioned.

Rakhi Pancholi, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud, mentioned she is dissatisfied by the inner evaluate. Over the weekend the Opposition Alberta NDP known as for an impartial investigation. 

At a information convention Monday, Pancholi raised questions concerning the scope of the evaluate, and whether or not it could have captured emails despatched to and from personal e mail addresses.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she has confidence within the integrity of her employees after a weekend inside search found no emails between her workplace and the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

She additionally questioned what the federal government means by together with “related” prosecutors within the search.

Mainville mentioned “related prosecutors” refers to those that labored on recordsdata associated to the Coutts border blockade or in the identical workplace as these prosecutors.

Pancholi repeated requires Justice Minister Tyler Shandro to nominate an impartial investigator to not solely seek for potential emails, however interview workers within the premier’s workplace and prosecution service.

“This is not nearly these emails,” Pancholi mentioned. 

“We have the premier stating on report, plenty of occasions, nearly boasting about it, bragging about the truth that she has talked to prosecutors and requested them questions on expenses associated to COVID-19 convictions.”

United Conservative Party members selected Smith as chief in October after she campaigned on a promise to have a look at providing amnesty to individuals who nonetheless confronted expenses for public well being violations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith has twice mentioned she spoke to Crown prosecutors about expenses associated to pandemic well being violations.

At a Jan. 12 information convention in Edmonton, Smith mentioned:

“We do have an impartial justice division and impartial Crown prosecutors, and I’ve requested them to think about all expenses underneath the lens of ‘is it within the public curiosity to pursue?’

“I ask them frequently, as new circumstances come out, is it within the public curiosity to pursue and is there an affordable chance of conviction?”

In an interview printed on-line Dec. 23, Smith additionally advised Rebel News she raised the problem with prosecutors.

“I put it to the prosecutors, and I’ve requested them to do a evaluate of the circumstances with these two issues in thoughts,” she mentioned.

Smith later mentioned in a press release that she used “imprecise” language, and by no means communicated straight with prosecutors – solely Attorney General Shandro and the deputy legal professional normal.

Just how sturdy any e mail search can be is dependent upon how technical workers carried out that search, says John Zabiuk, chair of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s cybersecurity program and an teacher on the Edmonton-based post-secondary establishment.

Searching for key phrases referring to the topic of curiosity might seize extra related outcomes than inspecting a particular subset of senders and receivers, he mentioned.

A woman sits down facing the camera for an interview.
Alberta NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi reiterated the Opposition’s requires an impartial investigation into emails despatched from the premier’s workplace to the Crown prosecution’s workplace on Friday, including there are too many unknowns proper now about precisely what was mentioned and by whom. (CBC News)

It ought to seize any deleted emails if the sender or receiver was utilizing a authorities tackle, as these emails can be saved on a server, he mentioned.

Any emails despatched between two personal e mail addresses would not be captured by a search, Zabiuk mentioned.

Many organizations additionally archive older messages to avoid wasting area, and people must be manually returned to the e-mail server to be included within the search, he mentioned.

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