Wednesday, September 22, 2010

“Totally, Totally Illegal” under the Federal Privacy Act

Canadian Press reports on an emerging scandal centered on Stephen Harper's Conservative government:

Confidential medical and financial information belonging to an outspoken critic of Veterans Affairs, including part of a psychiatrist's report, found its way into the briefing notes of a cabinet minister.

Highly personal information about Sean Bruyea was contained in a 13-page briefing note prepared by bureaucrats in 2006 for then-minister Greg Thompson, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

...Mr. Bruyea has filed a formal complaint with the federal privacy commissioner, whose investigation continues. He has also filed a court challenge, claiming a breach under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

...Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, a lawyer and expert in privacy law, expressed shock on viewing the documents. Mr. Drapeau said it was the worst breach of privacy he'd seen in decades of practising law, calling it “totally, totally illegal” under the federal Privacy Act, which allows for the collection of information for specific purposes.

“The way I read the briefing note, it clearly comes across that this is a way to impugn his reputation and to come across as someone who is less than stable, less than able to speak confidently and accurately about veteran's issues,” Mr. Drapeau said in an interview Tuesday.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Update:

More on this from CTV: Psych report of veterans critic improperly accessed. Galloping Beaver also weighs in: What?!!!
- GJW
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