Saturday, September 23, 2006

On selective secrecy

The CP reports that while the Libs helped to foster the contuining culture of secrecy in the federal civil service, several of the party's leadership contenders were entirely willing to hand out confidental membership data when the Globe and Mail came calling for help in carrying out a poll:
Three Liberal leadership hopefuls could face sanctions for giving the party's confidential membership lists to a newspaper which used the data to conduct a controversial opinion poll on the leadership race.

The Globe and Mail, which published the poll results last week, said it obtained the lists from the campaigns of Stephane Dion, Ken Dryden and Scott Brison, although the latter's camp has since denied any involvement.

Yet each candidate was required to personally sign a declaration of confidentiality before the party handed over the coveted lists of members across the country.

In the declaration, candidates agreed to take "appropriate measures to protect the confidentiality of the personal information on the lists." They further agreed that they "will not disclose the lists to anyone outside the Liberal Party of Canada." Liberal national director Steven MacKinnon said the party is still investigating the possible breach of confidentiality.
There's no apparent indication whether the disclosures were deliberately made contrary to the Libs' policy, or whether campaign staff simply wasn't aware of the agreed limitation on how the information would be used. But either way, it's fairly clear that candidates involved violated the trust of Libs who had a valid expectation of privacy in their membership information. And whether the issue was one of carelessness or wilful wrongdoing, it's not an attitude that Canadians of any political stripe should be eager to see in a future government.

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