07.11.2013 12:25 PM

Cavoukian: she got it wrong. And now she needs to do the honourable thing.

Here are quotes from statements that Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s “Information and Privacy Commissioner,” made on June 5:

“It is difficult to accept that the routine deletion of emails was not in fact an attempt by staff…to avoid transparency and accountability.”


“The fact that you’re just wiping it all away indiscriminately is just appalling. Obviously, it reflects a culture of no accountability.”


“…it impacts [the Liberals’] ability to be re-elected, then I think that’s the biggest price to pay.

In sum, she (a) accused people of engaging in a criminal cover-up; (b) she suggested that the criminality was part of “a culture;” and – assigning herself the role of political analyst – she (c) urges voters to vote the way she, you know, wants them to.  Immediately thereafter, Opposition politicians also started braying and screeching that laws had been broken, and the OPP decided to investigate Cavoukian’s claims.

Even before yesterday’s revelations, all of that stuff was bad enough.  But Cavoukian – who usually devotes herself more religiously to international junkets paid for by the taxpayer, but has not once come into Minister’s offices to educate staff about the rules, in the way that the Ontario Integrity Commissioner regularly does – wasn’t done.  No, sir. She loved the attention that her statements, and her over-the-top report, received.  Her taxpayer-funded profile, as one former cabinet minister told me last week, suggests that she is quite fond of herself. So she kept at it, and dialled up the rhetoric and the hysterical tone.

On June 25, then, she was back before the klieg lights, saying:

“…in my view, it strained credulity that [the deletion of emails] could be for reasons other than shielding one’s activities from public scrutiny.”

And, about Chris Morley, Dalton McGuinty’s former Chief of Staff:

“Mr. Morley’s interpretation of the responsibilities of political staff to delete records…I found to be misleading. [He engaged in]  a misrepresentation of the facts….[he engaged in] misrepresentation…[he was] disingenuous…[his sworn testimony was] totally slanted...”

There she goes again: a conspiracy existed to “shield activities” from public view.  Political staff were all a bunch of fibbers. And Chris Morley – who she did not interview or communicate, not once, before defaming him on an occasion where she knew she couldn’t be sued – was a liar.  (When pressed, however, she admitted that Morley’s testimony had been “technically true,” quote unquote.  Not many media reported that little factoid.)

Her turn before the committee and the Queen’s Park media done, Cavoukian then went on a media tour, appearing on as many TV and radio programs as she possibly could, and thereby wringing out of Maclean’s that she was “a rock star,” quote unquote.

She’s not a rock star.  She’s (best case) incompetent or (worst case) a phoney, fabricating fabulist.

Yesterday’s news shows why.  On June 5, she stated as a fact that emails had been “deleted,” and thereafter launched a campaign of defamation against people who mostly were in no position to defend themselves.  On July 10, she revealed that, well, um, er, the emails hadn’t been “deleted” after all.

That’s a pretty big mistake, considering what her mistake led to – headlines, subpoenas and a police investigation. Her excuse is that some unidentified functionary in government told her the emails had been deleted, and it was that person who got it wrong, not her.  But that’s not good enough, for five reasons.

  1. Cavoukian has a huge staff who are paid to – and supposedly expert in – weeding out information.  They didn’t.
  2. By her own admission she rushed her report out the door – most likely, in my view, to capitalize on the political heat the gas plants issue was generating.
  3. Before accusing people of actual crimes, and viciously attacking them in print and on air, she had a legal obligation to leave no stone unturned.  She didn’t do that.
  4. Similarly, before she kick-started a police investigation, she needed to ensure that there was no possibility – none – that she was wrong.  She didn’t do that, either.
  5. Her report, and her subsequent comments, were as bad – if not worse – than the sort of crap John Gomery used to say, and for which he was later shredded by the Federal Court.

By her conduct, and by her words, Ann Cavoukian has diminished herself, her office, and an important issue.  She has acted recklessly, without regard to the facts, and without regard for the reputations of innocent people.  And – most seriously – she is the person most responsible for the launching of an actual police investigation that, we now learn, is based on her own factual error.

The emails weren’t deleted.  What deserves deletion, instead, is Ann Cavoukian.

Resign, now.


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    Marie says:

    Who’s hysterical? The LP would have been too happy had not the OPP retrieved the e-mails. Looking forward to Monday.

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    George says:

    Just read her profile. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing screed in my entire life. I am surprised she doesn’t claim to walk on water.

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    Harold Wilson says:

    Anyone with any sense knew this was a witch trial from the beginning – as such, the facts, methodical inductive reasoning, you know, reality, would never enter into it. But this is the problem with tribunals, courts of the uber-righteous – they need continual feeding with human sacrifices.

    The sickly and venal media is largely to blame – I mean what other organ in our society could take a dreary, scheming, power-envious bureaucrat and try to boost them to “rock star” status. Like moths to a flame, there is always going to be a segment of the pant suit crowd who can’t resist the glow of fame.

    The great tragedy is that at root, this is an attack by unelected bureaucrats on democracy itself. Somewhere there is a bright young newly minted lawyer or MBA or whatever just perfect for public life but looks at things like this and says to themselves, “who needs it?”

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    davidray says:

    When I read Dr. I thought you meant Kavorkian not this moron.

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    J.W. says:

    I think emails are like the old desk pads and scraps that people wrote notes on and may have given to somebody or tossed them in the garbage pail when done.. For some reason she has decided to treat them as if they were formal letters and reports which they are not.

    I just can’t see howe a person can be condemned for erasing their own emails if they are not structured in a formal letter or report format.

    So that solves that debate!

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    Ian Howard says:

    If you decide to cancel two gas plants that should have been built and then lie about the cost of doing it and pin your hopes on a by election don’t bother accusing anyone else of being incompetent. If the McGuinty Liberals had done a few things right the emails would not have mattered.

    If Dalton McGuinty had come clean about the cost of cancellation from the start the issue would have runs it’s course and been forgotten. The real fool is the genius who thought they could hide the cost of the power plants with a by election in Kitchener and then let Fife run for the NDP

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      doris says:

      Of don’t forget that both the other parties also committed to cancelling the gas plants, if they had won and been forced to follow through the costs would have been the same except it wouldn’t be the libs wearing this stuff so get real this is a manufatured hypocritical situation

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        Ian Howard says:

        What they didn’t commit to was lying about the cost. As someone who has voted Liberal my whole life I’m disgusted that McGuinty believed the true cost would remain hidden. The handling of this file from the beginning of the green energy plan has been a constant horror show of incompetence and no amount of partisan politics can hide just how poorly run this government was. It is not enough to win elections and read polls if you can’t make decisions that work outside of Queen’s Park you will eventually lose.

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          Warren says:

          Ian, here’s what I know: predicting energy costs is like predicting the stock market. It can’t be done.

          There are too many variables, and prices fluctuate wildly as a result. Every aspect of production is affected by this. Gas plants, too.

          Our mistake was succumbing to pressure, and trying to say what the cost was going to be. There’s no way to do that with any certainty, and we shouldn’t have done it.

          That was a our mistake. But we weren’t alone in that.

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            Ian Howard says:

            The Liberal Party were given their talking points and told not to stray from them. Like good soldiers they doggedly stuck to their lines even though any reasonable person would have admitted there were grave concerns about the cost and possibility of more documents. Though I don’t always agree with you it is refreshing to hear someone in politics formulate their own ideas instead of simply regurgitating the party line.

            After reading the Mississauga emails it struck me if the bureaucrats and politicians had worried more about what they were saying instead of how it sounded the outcome may have been better. Group think is the bane of our times.

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        Other Hockey Dad says:

        Yeah but it looks so good on the Libs as their crowning achievement in lies and waste after “no new taxes (errr except EHT)”, eHealth, EcoFees, ORNGE, Green Energy Act / Samsung boondoggle, Caledonia….and on and on and on.

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    Michael Behiels says:

    WOW! I am astonished at the excessive partisanship of this office holder. She had no evidence for the allegations that she was spreading around like a manure spreader, damaging reputations with no concern whatsoever. Shameful behaviour.

    What are the current procedures for removing Ann Cavoukian from office?

    If she refuses to resign who has the authority to get these procedures underway?

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    Patrice Boivin says:

    As usual I think people to be appointed to offices that could affect the lives of thousands or running for political positions should, at the very least, by screened by tests like the MMPI (ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Multiphasic_Personality_Inventory )

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