OTTAWA — Information sessions to school bureaucrats on the handling of personal information have prompted a backlash among staff at Veterans Affairs, who fear they’re being used as scapegoats in the privacy scandal that’s rocked the department.
Leaked copies of internal department electronic messages, obtained by The Canadian Press, show that one regional manager described the mandatory gatherings as “a farce.”
He dismissed them as an attempt by senior officials in Ottawa to deflect responsibility for the privacy invasions involving critics, such as former intelligence officer Sean Bruyea and ex-military nurse Louise Richard.
The comment — attributed to Ian Watchman, head of audit and evaluation based in P.E.I. — questioned the value of an information session at the department’s Charlottetown headquarters.
“The ethical atmosphere of an organization is established from the ‘Tone at the Top,”’ said the posting.
“So, instead of the Senior Management Committee showing leadership by accepting responsibility for this indiscretion, they are painting all staff with the same brush that the press has.
“So, based on their behaviour, I guess it is more than acceptable to deflect criticism to where it is unwarranted. A statement by the Senior Management Committee acknowledging and accepting responsibility for this violation of the Privacy Act would go much further that forcing staff to attend a ’Need to Know’ information session.”