Morton sorry after briefcase stolen

EDMONTON — An Alberta government minister is apologizing after a briefcase containing sensitive government documents was stolen from his car while he was at dinner with a friend.

EDMONTON — An Alberta government minister is apologizing after a briefcase containing sensitive government documents was stolen from his car while he was at dinner with a friend.

An associate producer with CBC Radio Edmonton later found the briefcase outside his apartment building.

Sustainable Resources Development Minister Ted Morton declined an interview but his spokesman, Dave Ealey, confirmed the incident took place in downtown Edmonton on Tuesday night.

Ealey said Morton “has acknowledged the situation as a serious mistake on his part.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said the CBC producer spotted a USB key when he was checking through the briefcase to determine its owner.

Swann said he believes Morton is “displaying a cavalier disregard” for the responsibilities of his office.

“It’s easy enough to leave a briefcase or purse behind,” Swann said in a news release.

“But ministers must be held to a higher standard, for they routinely transport sensitive information that could affect hundreds of thousands of people if it falls into the wrong hands.”

Asked what was in the briefcase, Ealey responded: “Confidential government documents, personal items and the usual sorts of things one might have in a briefcase.”

Pressed on what kind of documents, Ealey said he didn’t know.

“I don’t view what’s inside the minister’s briefcase,” he said. “He would have in it whatever he needs to do his job.”

Ealey said the only thing that ended up missing was a personal item belonging to Morton, but he declined to say what that item was.

Swann noted that when former federal foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier left sensitive documents at his girlfriend’s apartment, he lost his job.

Swann said Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt also faced intense scrutiny for leaving documents at a TV studio, and her assistant was fired.