Liberals call for Jody Carr to resign over privacy breach

The Opposition Liberals are repeating calls for Education Minister Jody Carr to resign over privacy breaches involving an Oromocto High School student.

Privacy commissioner rules education department guilty of breaches involving student

The Opposition Liberals are repeating calls for Education Minister Jody Carr to resign over privacy breaches involving an Oromocto High School student.

Anne Bertrand, the province's access to information and privacy commissioner, ruled earlier this week the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is guilty of three privacy breaches in the case.

Carr acknowledged in May that a political assistant released a mark the student earned on an exam. The minister apologized for the privacy breach at that time and referred the matter to Bertrand's office.

But Liberal MLA Chris Collins, the opposition's education critic, contends Carr must answer further questions in light of the privacy commissioner's findings.

For example, Collins wants to know if Carr was verbally advised of the outcome of the student's test scores and whether the minister or office staff were asking department officials to advise them of test score results.

Collins is also demanding to know why there are no reports of any corrective measures taken by the minister's office to date.

Education Minister Jody Carr said his department will make changes based on the recommendations from Bertrand's report but he said no one will lose their job.

"I will not be asking any officials in my department or my office who were involved to resign, based on the commissioner's findings. We have learned from this, will make improvements and make sure it doesn't happen again," he said in an email to CBC News.

"I repeat my previous apology to the family, I regret this occurred and am pleased the matter is concluded."

Premier should step in

But the Liberals do not believe the matter is over. Collins is asking for the premier to intervene.

"The minister is ultimately responsible for this, and in previous cases, we’ve seen ministers do the right thing and resign," Collins said in a statement.

Bertrand's report indicated the family was correct in raising the privacy breach with her office, but she also said the minister had taken steps to apologize.

"We do add for the record that during the course of this investigation, the minister issued a letter of apology to the family. While an apology could not correct the harm done, we believe it was a good faith effort to admit to the wrong committed and to start rebuilding the trust that the minister and his department lost as a result of these breaches," the report said.

In 2010, Liberal MLA Bernard LeBlanc, who was the justice minister, resigned from cabinet because an email sent out in his name identified the complainant in an animal cruelty case.

"If minister Carr is not prepared to take responsibility for his staff’s actions, then it is increasingly clear that he truly feels no remorse and is putting his own politics above all else," Collins said.

"Premier David Alward should show leadership and request this minister’s resignation, based on the findings of this report.  Doing otherwise would raise further questions regarding his integrity," he said.

In May, he said his department would be holding protection of privacy information sessions for his departmental and ministerial staff "to remind employees of the importance of protecting personal information at all times."

The student in question found out her mark — "exceptional" — before the school released it, by indirectly finding out through a route that originated with one of the minister's political staffers.