City Alderman Breached Privacy with Disclosure to Media

May 14, 2001

The Complainant had forwarded a letter (the “Letter”) to the Office of the Calgary City Clerk regarding the Complainant’s decision to withdraw from consideration for reappointment to the Calgary Police Commission. Copies of the Letter were distributed during the in camera session of the October 23, 2000 Organizational Meeting. Subsequently, portions of the Letter were printed in a Calgary Herald article the next morning.

During the investigation, Alderman Colley-Urquhart admitted she read portions of the Letter over the telephone to the Journalist. However, Alderman Colley-Urquhart denied releasing a hard copy of the Letter to the Journalist. All individuals interviewed also claimed they did not release a copy of the Letter to the Journalist.

The Portfolio Officer assigned to the investigation said there is a possibility that the Journalist may not have had a hard copy of the Letter when preparing the October 24, 2000 article. However, whether the Journalist did or did not have a hard copy of the Letter was irrelevant. The October 24th article established that a disclosure occurred. Alderman Colley-Urquhart’s admission confirmed she disclosed the Complainant’s personal information.

The Portfolio Officer could not substantiate the source of a second disclosure to the Journalist regarding the privacy complaint filed by the Complainant. However, the Portfolio Officer concluded the most likely source of the second disclosure came from someone within the City of Calgary.

The Portfolio Officer concluded that the disclosures did not fall under the disclosure provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the “FOIP Act”). Therefore, the disclosures are a violation of the FOIP Act and a breach of the Complainant’s privacy.

The Portfolio Officer reminded the City of Calgary that it has a responsibility to assure members of the public that their personal information is protected and used appropriately. As an elected official of the City of Calgary, Alderman Colley-Urquhart shares in that responsibility.