Liberal staffer behind 'Vikileaks' campaign

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said a Liberal research bureau staffer was behind the 'Vikileaks' campaign that targeted Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and he offered an apology.

Bob Rae apologizes to Vic Toews for Twitter attack

A Liberal party staff member was behind the "Vikileaks" Twitter campaign that took aim at Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the House of Commons was told Monday.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae said he was advised Sunday that a member of the Liberal party research bureau used a House of Commons computer to set up the account that was used to publish details of Toews's divorce two weeks ago.

Rae said he spoke with the staff member, Adam Carroll, Monday morning. He offered his resignation and it was accepted, Rae said.

Rae said Carroll has worked on Parliament Hill for several years.

"I want to offer to the minister my personal apology to him for the conduct of a member of my staff," Rae said following question period.

The Liberal leader said one of the things that makes public life difficult is when political attacks become personal. Rae said he has tried, and maybe not always succeeded, to make it clear that matters of private conduct shouldn't be the subject of political attacks.

"We did not meet that standard with respect to the establishment of that site by a member of the Liberal research bureau," Rae said.

Point of privilege

Toews had just risen on a point of privilege on the matter, asking the Speaker of the Commons to find that his privileges as a member of Parliament had been breached by the Twitter account.

"I take strong issue with the idea that House resources would be used to attack secretly a member of the House," Toews said, adding that the anonymous account was degrading his reputation and obstructing him from carrying out his duties.

Toews said in response to Rae's admission that he accepted the apology. However, he added that some Liberal MPs encouraged the Twitter account, which Speaker Andrew Scheer should take into account.

Toews was most likely referring to Liberal MP Justin Trudeau who wrote about the Vikileaks account on his own Twitter account.

Trudeau told CBC News he was surprised to learn that someone from his party was behind the Vikileaks account. He said he takes a certain part of the responsibility for sharing the Vikileaks account name with his own followers, but said he never endorsed it or encouraged people to support it.

"I don't think that politics has enough space for [those kinds] of personal attacks," Trudeau said.

Tweets jabbed minister

Under a text field reserved for biographical information on Twitter, the anonymous account user wrote: "Vic wants to know about you. Let's get to know Vic."

The user of the Vikileaks account then posted a string of more than 90 tweets taking jabs at the minister and his home life, including alleged quotations from affidavits from Toews's divorce. None of the claims has been verified.

The account was launched in response to Toews's introduction of an online surveillance bill. It was closed down after a few days.

When the news emerged that the account had been traced to a House of Commons IP address, some Conservatives initially blamed the NDP because of the media reports and said New Democrats were playing dirty tricks.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird withdrew comments he made about the NDP following Rae's statement in the House of Commons and apologized for what he said.

Toews has been the subject of another online campaign linked to his sponsorship of Bill C-30, the online surveillance bill. Twitter users have been flooding Toews's account with tweets about the inane details of their lives, tagging the tweets with a hashtag, or label, #TellVicEverything.

Toews told the House of Commons Monday that the campaign is also interfering with his ability to carry out his parliamentary duties. He also mentioned online videos that have made specific threats against him.

Toews said as a politician he's used to being attacked and has accepted that as part of the job.

"However, the online attacks launched on both myself and my family have crossed the line," he said. 


Meagan Fitzpatrick is a multi-platform reporter with CBC in Toronto. She previously worked in CBC's Washington bureau and covered the 2016 election. Prior to heading south of the border Meagan worked in CBC's Parliament Hill bureau. She has also reported for CBC from Hong Kong. Follow her on Twitter @fitz_meagan