Inside Politics

Government forces debate over data loss behind closed doors

UPDATE: Well, that was, sadly, entirely predictable. 

Despite a valiant effort by New Democrat ethics critic Charlie Angus to discuss his pitch for a full parliamentary inquiry into the loss of a hard drive filled with sensitive personal financial information belonging to thousands of Canadians, the Conservative contingent on the ethics committee moved swiftly to bring down the curtain of in camera protection on this afternoon's proceedings. 

While we may never know for sure just what went down behind those abruptly closed doors, if we never hear a word about it again, we can safely assume that the motion failed. 

The original post, with the full text of the motions from Angus and his Liberal colleague Scott Andrews: 

Hot off the Liberal caucus presses comes word that the party's indefatigable privacy critic, Scott Andrews, will attempt to persuade his ethics committee colleagues to launch a full investigation into the recent student loan data breach

On his witness wish list: Human Resources Minister Diane Finley and Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, as well as the bureaucrats in charge of both the loans program and information security. 

Here's the full text of his motion, which is slated to be debated when the committee reconvenes next Tuesday afternoon: 

That the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics hold meetings on the issue of the missing hard drive at Human Resources, Skills and Social Development department holding the personal financial information of 583,000 student loan borrowers, and the witness list include but not be limited to:

        •     Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
        •     Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada
        •     Murray B. Jacques, Director, Technical & Security Architecture , Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
        •     Marc LeBrun, Director General, Canada Student Loans Directorate
UPDATE: It seems the Official Opposition is also keen on calling the minister forward to explain the HRSDC info leak. NDP MP Charlie Angus will move the following motion at the same meeting:  

"That the Committee invite Minister Finley to appear before the committee before March 7th, 2013 to explain how the privacy breach at HRSDC affecting 583,000 Canadians occurred, what actions have been taken since to ensure security of personal data throughout the department, and what long term solution for affected Canadians will be put in place to protect their identity."

It's not a competition, of course, but, as the NDP were quick to point out, their motion sets a hard deadline for the minister to appear, and expands the parameters to include the prospect of a "long term solution for affected Canadians."

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