Municipal Affairs staff cannot find letter referenced by Alberta premier


Three weeks after Alberta Premier Danielle Smith highlighted a letter that raised concerns about the City of Edmonton, a Freedom of Information Request has failed to find the document.
On March 27, Smith told reporters she had various concerns about the City of Edmonton.She did not get into details aside from saying the city is dealing with significant financial troubles, something Edmonton city council has been open about.Smith did say some of her concerns stemmed from hearing that a letter was being sent to the minister of Municipal Affairs.“I don’t want to pre-judge what may or may not be in a letter that we’ve been told that we’ll receive,” the premier told reporters.“And so I just wouldn’t mind seeing the letter, talking to my municipal affairs minister and seeing if there’s anything more that we need to do.” Story continues below advertisement

Smith would not elaborate on what she understood the letter to contain.She did say it and other complaints raised concerns and that the province was willing to step in and help Edmonton fix problems the document had identified.That set off criticism that the premier was trying to intervene in municipal governance without showing proof that intervention was necessary.

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Shortly after, the minister of Municipal Affairs confirmed he had received the letter.

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“It’s unsigned, so that’s not helpful,” Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said to reporters.“Anything signed by a concerned citizen rather than somebody with a name and an address is … less helpful than one that’s signed.” Story continues below advertisement

He did not elaborate what allegations were made in the document.Global News asked the minister how the premier knew the letter was coming — if it was from an anonymous Albertan.“That’s just a great question. I don’t have an answer,” McIver said.Global News filed a Freedom of Information Request over the letter. A response said “a thorough search conducted by Municipal Affairs staff did not yield any records responsive to your request.”After three days of asking this week about why that might be, Global News was sent a statement that did not address why a Freedom of Information search cannot find the letter.

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The statement reads:“Upon ministry review, Municipal Affairs determined that the concerns outlined in the letter should be addressed by the municipality,” spokesperson Heather Jenkins wrote Friday.“The province regularly receives anonymous complaints or allegations that we are unable to verify.”
Jenkins did not answer why both the premier and minister highlighted the letter before being able to verify its allegations.NDP Municipal Affairs Critic Kyle Kasawski told Global News he would like to view the document. Story continues below advertisement

“This is at the level of scandal in our province,” Kasawski said Friday.“We have now a premier that is gaslighting based on a letter that doesn’t exist.”
He went on to say if there are legitimate concerns about the City of Edmonton, there is something the government could do to help.“If the premier wants to respond to a letter, she could respond to the letter written by the mayor and council with, I think nine areas of funding that have been cut by her government.”Mayor Amarjeet Sohi sent a six-page-long letter of his own to Smith on April 2, outlining nine ways the city could use funding assistance after provincial cuts.

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