Inside Politics

NDP scores partial victory as committee agrees to study data breach

UNEXPECTED TWIST UPDATE: 

Score one for the Official Opposition -- and, more broadly, for cross-table cooperation. 

It seems that today's in camera session resulted in a compromise of sorts. 

According to the just-posted minutes, the committee will indeed embark on an investigation into the student loans privacy breach, but the minister will not be invited to testify. Instead, members will put their questions to the "appropriate departmental officials." 

Here's the motion: 

It was agreed, -- That the Committee invite the Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the appropriate departmental officials 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.


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Once more unto the (data) breach, dear friends (and worried student borrowers) ...  

Undaunted, it seems, by the less than enthusiastic response from the government when party privacy critic Charlie Angus attempted to get his colleagues on the privacy committee to support a similar motion earlier this week, the New Democrats aren't ready to abandon their efforts to kickstart a parliamentary inquiry into the recent student loans data breach. 

Later this morning, NDP labour critic Chris Charlton will introduce the following motion at Human Resources:


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.


I'll keep you posted on how it turns out. (That is, unless the committee promptly goes behind closed doors so the proposal can be quietly squelched by the majority without the bother of putting their objections on the record, in which case -- well, I'll report back on that, at least.) 

Stay tuned! 

UPDATE: As predicted, the Conservatives lost no time in shutting down public discussion of the motion, on the somewhat abstract grounds that the breach itself is currently the object of a class action, which could theoretically trigger the traditional caution practices when dealing with matters before the courts, as government member and motion mover Colin Mayes was quick to explain. 

As a result, I am, alas, unable to report back on the fate of the motion itself, but if it disappears from the agenda never to be seen again, we can safely conclude that it likely failed. 

UNEXPECTED TWIST UPDATE: 

Score one for the Official Opposition -- and, more broadly, for cross-table cooperation. 

It seems that today's in camera session resulted in a compromise of sorts. 

According to the just-posted minutes, the committee will indeed embark on an investigation into the student loans privacy breach, but the minister will not be invited to testify. Instead, members will put their questions to the "appropriate departmental officials." 

Here's the motion: 

It was agreed, -- That the Committee invite the Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the appropriate departmental officials 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.





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