Press Releases 1999
ELECTIONS CANADA ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR HUMAN ERROR
(OTTAWA, November 29, 1999) The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, responded today to a statement by the Honourable Steve Ashton, Manitoba's Minister of Highways and Government Services, concerning the loss of Manitoba drivers' licence data. Mr. Kingsley accepted responsibility for the loss by human error, which occurred in late January 1999, of a tape containing names, addresses, dates of birth, gender and licence numbers from the Division of Driver and Vehicle Licencing. The information was to be used for updating addresses in the National Register of Electors.
It was determined that this loss was the result of human error. The tape was misplaced shortly after it was received at Elections Canada. Immediately upon being informed, the Chief Electoral Officer directed that a report be made to officials at Manitoba's Department of Highways and Government Services, and this was done.
A step-by-step analysis of events on the day the tape was delivered to Elections Canada was conducted using the electronic security pass logs and tapes from video-camera monitors in place at Elections Canada. The analysis led to the conclusion that the tape had been deposited inadvertently into Elections Canada's non-recyclable waste. This waste would then have been buried in a landfill site. Theft of the tape has been ruled out. There is no evidence to suggest that any use was made of this data.
A subsequent audit, commissioned by Elections Canada and carried out by DOMUS Security, a Division of LGS Inc., one of Canada's leading independent security companies, confirmed the rigour of security procedures in place at the time of the incident. Nevertheless, further refinements were recommended to avoid a repetition of this event, and they have been implemented. For example, upon receipt at Elections Canada, these tapes are now sent directly to the secured computer room.
Canada's Privacy Commissioner, Bruce Phillips, has conducted his own investigation, which was undertaken on his behalf by a former RCMP security expert. Mr. Phillips has concurred with the results of Elections Canada's analysis. "Having considered all the circumstances of this case, there is no doubt in my mind that simple human error contributed to the loss of the tape," wrote Mr. Phillips. "I am satisfied that Elections Canada has put in place a number of measures to ensure that this does not happen again, and I do not believe that additional recommendations beyond those already identified are required at this time."
The results of both the LGS/Domus review and the Privacy Commissioner's investigation were communicated to Manitoba officials, including the provincial Ombudsman. As had been agreed, Elections Canada was awaiting the report of the Manitoba Ombudsman regarding recommendations on public disclosure of this loss. Elections Canada is looking forward to receiving copies of the Ombudsman's interim and final reports, as well as the results of the Minister's independent audit, announced today. Mr. Kingsley has pledged his full co-operation with this audit.
Last week, the Chief Electoral Officer signed an agreement with the City of Winnipeg for the ongoing provision of Register data that will be used to produce preliminary electoral lists for municipal elections in 2002. The City successfully used Register data, rather than conducting enumeration, to produce an electoral list for municipal elections held in 1998. Savings of some $500 000 were reported by City officials as a result. Winnipeg was charged $1 500, which covered Elections Canada's expenses.
Elections Canada is the non-partisan agency responsible for the conduct of federal elections and referendums.
Contact: Pierre Blain at