Politics

'No magic fix' to ease Desjardins privacy breach concerns, Liberal MP says

The chair of the House of Commons public safety and national security committee says it will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the massive personal data breach at the Desjardins Group, but concedes there's "no magic fix."

Public safety and national security committee to hold an emergency meeting

Liberal MP John MacKay, chair of the public safety and national security committee, says there will be an emergency committee meeting on the Desjardins data breach. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The chair of the House of Commons public safety and national security committee says the committee will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the massive personal data breach at the Desjardins Group — but Liberal MP John McKay concedes there's "no magic fix."

Last month, the Quebec-based bank revealed that an employee with "ill-intention" collected information about almost three million people and businesses and shared it with others. Desjardins flagged a suspicious transaction to Laval police in December, but officials said it took several months for them to understand the scope of the scheme. 

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer issued a statement Monday urging the committee to look into whether issuing new social insurance numbers to those affected would be feasible, and to look at ways to prevent future data breaches.

Committee chair McKay told CBC News Network the committee will meet "in the next week or so."

 "I don't know what the solutions are. There will be no magic fix, that I can see, anyway," he said.

"We will certainly be listening to all witnesses, and certainly if there's a solution out there, we will be recommending it to the government."

Desjardins chief executive Guy Cormier, right, and chief operating officer Denis Berthiaume spoke at a news conference June 20. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The leaked information includes names, addresses, birth dates, social insurance numbers, email addresses and information about transaction habits.

Tens of thousands of people already have signed a petition asking for new social insurance numbers in the wake of the breach.

The 'new terrorism'

"I don't know what the mechanics are involved in that, but I can't imagine that it is a simple task," said McKay, who represents the Toronto riding of Scarborough–Guildwood.

"So this is up front and personal, and you can be darn sure that MPs are extremely concerned about what happens not only to their own data, but to constituents' data."

The Conservative Party said its members will push to have representatives from Desjardins, Public Safety, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security appear before the committee, along with former CSIS director Richard Fadden and others.

Just as news of the Desjardins breach was breaking on June 20, the committee put out a 51-page report looking into cybersecurity and Canada's financial sector. It found that Canada's small- and medium-sized financial firms could be vulnerable to the constant barrage of cyberattacks.

"From a security standpoint, this is the new terrorism," said McKay.

The House of Commons has risen for the summer break, so a meeting would require some MPs to return to Ottawa. 

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