CTV reports on the Veterans Affairs privacy scandal.
As more allegations come to light of misuse of personal information by Veterans Affairs bureaucrats – beyond the original allegations by veteran Sean Bruyea – the Privacy Commissioner announces an investigation and the minister promises a clean up of his department.
Privacy lawyer Michel Drapeau denounces the violations as despicable, dishonourable, unethical – and of course also illegal.
Lloyd Robertson: The Minister of Veterans Affairs, Jean-Pierre Blackburn, wasn’t mincing any words today about allegations that bureaucrats were sharing the private medical records of former soldiers, including the department’s own ombudsmen, Retired Colonel Pat Strogran. Blackburn called that an embarrassment and said his department needs a closer look, something the Privacy Commissioner agrees with. CTV’s Roger Smith reports.
“This new grant provides financial support…”
Roger Smith: As the government announced more help for seriously wounded soldiers, an admission that others were hurt while bureaucrats passed on confidential medical files.
Jean-Pierre Blackburn: It’s embarrassing for anyone in this department to see any kind of situation like this. It should not happen, it should not be like that at all, not at all.
Roger Smith: Fueling the controversy, Pat Strogran suspects his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was used to undermine his credibility as Veteran’s Ombudsmen, and he says there were other targets, too.
Pat Strogran, Veteran’s Ombudsman: The reason why I made an enquiry to find out who had been looking into my files was because other veterans had come to me and complained about that situation.
Sean Bruyea: These are tactics of the Stalinist era; you know you manipulate psychological reports and psychiatric reports to destroy any dissenters.
Roger Smith: Sean Bruyea has piles of documents that show details of his medical and mental problems were given to cabinet ministers as ammunition to counter his campaign for better veteran’s benefits. “It’s time to take the gloves off here,” says one memo. Bruyea blames overzealous civil servants, but says their political bosses should have known it was wrong.
Sean Bruyea: For me, quite disturbing that they never said, “Stop. You know what? I don’t need to see this about Sean Bruyea. I shouldn’t see this about Sean Bruyea.”
Roger Smith: This lawyer says bureaucratic snooping must end.
Col. (Ret’d) Michel Drapeau: It’s despicable. It’s dishonourable. It’s unethical. And also illegal.
Roger Smith: Sparked by Strogran’s new allegations, the Privacy Commissioner announced she’ll expand her investigation of Veteran’s Affairs and the Minister promised a major cleanup of his department. Roger Smith, CTV News, Ottawa.