An Alberta government email review of whether Premier Danielle Smith’s office interfered with Crown prosecutors has taken a confusing turn, with duelling statements from two spokespeople on what was investigated.
Ethan Lecavalier-Kidney, a spokesman for Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, has issued a statement that appears to call into question earlier comments made by Alberta Justice communications director Charles Mainville.
The review was ordered by Smith a week ago to respond to allegations in a CBC story that reported a Smith staffer emailed prosecutors last fall to question decisions and direction on cases stemming from a blockade at the Canada-U. S. border crossing at Coutts, Alta., last year.
The Justice Department said Monday it had done a four-month search of ingoing, outgoing and deleted emails and found no evidence of contact.
Two days later, Mainville said in a statement that deleted emails are wiped from the system after 30 days, meaning the search for deleted emails may not have covered the entire time period..
Lecavalier-Kidney, in a statement Thursday night, said deleted emails could live in the system for 60 days and would have been available to investigators.
He did not respond Friday to a request asking himto clarify whether investigators went back 30 or 60 days on the deleted emails.
The government has also delivered conflicting messages on who was investigated in the email review.
Smith promised that emails from all Crown prosecutors and the 34 staffers in her office would be checked.
However, the Justice Department later said emails between “relevant” prosecutors and Smith staffers were checked. It did not say how it determined who was relevant.
Smith has said she did not direct prosecutors in the Coutts cases and the email review exonerated her office from what she has called “baseless” allegations in the CBC story.
The CBC has said that it has not seen the emails in question, but stands by its reporting.
The Opposition NDP said questions stemming from the CBC story, coupled with multiple conflicting statements from the United Conservative Party premier on what she has said to Justice Department officials about the Coutts cases, can only be resolved through an independent investigation.