Notes kept by two senior civil servants from during the development of the Muskrat Falls Project are nowhere to be found, Commissioner Richard LeBlanc was told Monday.
Immediately following the lunch break during the day’s public hearing, lawyer Peter Ralph gave notice that the notes requested by Inquiry lawyers are missing, despite an exhaustive search.
Charles Bown was deputy minister of Natural Resources and reported he left his notes behind when he went to the Cabinet Secretariat (he is currently deputy minster of Tourism). Separately, Julia Mullaley was clerk of the executive council and reported leaving notebooks behind when she moved on, eventually becoming the province’s auditor general.
“We’ve spoken to current and former employees of both Natural Resources and Cabinet Secretariat and there is no record anywhere of what happened,” Ralph said.
“Now these are the types of documents that are often considered transitory, and if that’s the case they’re considered destroyable. We don’t have a record, but that’s the situation here,” he said, before saying the searches included a “tremendous effort” and a look in the “vaults” at Confederation Building, but the search has now been abandoned.
Mullaley is due on the stand Wednesday.
Inquiry co-counsel Barry Learmonth said it’s surprising records like the notes of two of the province’s top civil servants would not have been preserved.
“It is that significant that I think that it could well basically be a factor in what I can write about and what I can conclude about,” LeBlanc said.
The Commissioner declared he will be looking more closely at the handling of records during the final phase of the Inquiry. He also ordered Ralph to submit a memo detailing the search efforts to date, with the memo to be entered into evidence, for the benefit of the public.