Monday, 23 September 2019
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Breach of NDP membership list continues to reverberate

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As reported by the CBC on February 12th the Dave Wilson NDP leadership campaign was recently fined $100  after it became apparent that a campaign worker had inappropriately accessed the party’s membership list.

The worker emailed a new NDP member on behalf of the Wilson campaign minutes after she joined the party, rather than wait for the formal release of that information to all three leadership contestants.

What makes the issue particularly contentious is that the worker in question is a NDP caucus staffer who was volunteering on Wilson’s behalf.

Wilson, who told the CBC he was unaware of the breach until a complaint was filed, quickly removed the volunteer from his campaign team.   

An exchange of letters acquired by The Nova Scotia Advocate indicate that was not the end of the affair.

A letter dated February 18th, addressed to NDP interim leader Maureen MacDonald, and signed by a dozen party members calls the incident “ a very serious breach of the membership’s trust as it pollutes the democratic process of our leadership election.”

The letter then goes on to demand that the worker in question resign or be fired.

To back up this demand the letter refers to discussions last fall when the Leadership Rules Committee decided that it would be ok for caucus staffers to participate as volunteers in leadership campaigns.

“Concerns were raised at the time about the privileged access to information a caucus staff member would have – concerns which you brushed off as unfounded,” the letter states.

The letter also suggests that the perceived reluctance to take action will prove damaging to the party in the long run.

“How can we have any moral authority to condemn the Office of the Premier for re-hiring Kirby McVicar after his privacy breach, when we have proven to the public that we are willing to tolerate similar behaviour from our own caucus staff?,” the letter asks.

A terse response written the very same day by lawyer Raymond Larkin on behalf of MacDonald informs the recipients that their letter is defamatory both of the staffer as well as the interim party leader.

The staffer is a civil servant, and as such entitled to due process, Larkin writes.

“Ms. MacDonald, as leader is responsible for these employees and must treat them fairly and respectfully. No employee in the public service can be dismissed because a group of individuals complain about them and demand that they be dismissed summarily without any fair process,” Larkin writes.

“You should apologize for this defamation. You must desist from repeating the defamation in any of your communications,” Larkin concludes.

Questions submitted to the Nova Scotia NDP about the precise nature and scope of the breach remain unanswered.

We asked whether the party conducted a broader investigation to determine if the breach in question was just an isolated incident. We also asked if the party made sure that no other rules were broken. 

“A complaint was received. It was investigated. It was found to have merit. A penalty was imposed and posted on the party website as required,” was the one-sentence response by Mike Poworoznyk, the NDP’s Provincial Secretary and Chief Administrative Officer.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. It seems the supporters of one leadership campaign is mostly behind attacking Maureen MacDonald for political purposes as they’re losing this race. For a party of labour, these few members sure have a difficult time in showing it.

    Reply
  2. Hi Lester,

    If Maureen perceives membership anger over the blatant mishandling of this “labour” issue as “attacking” her…perhaps she could pay mind to the words of discontented members, rather than paying lawyers to threaten them to be quiet.

    The authors of the original open letter which expressed dissatisfaction over the pitiful disciplinary measure meted out by Maureen for the abuse of caucus resources to the benefit of the Wilson campaign are not aligned with any particular campaign, and it makes you seem quite petty and biased yourself to attempt to blow off valid concerns on behalf of members as such.

    I don’t know who is winning or losing this campaign, and regardless of who becomes leader, this type of blatant corruption and nepotism within the party must cease. The trust of the membership has been compromised time and again and no lessons seem to have been learned from the failure of the Dexter government.

    And since you bring up “labour” – Dexter and his crew, now represented by the Wilson campaign, did absolutely nothing to amend the Labour Standards Code in this province so that non-unionized workers cannot be terminated for no reason before ten years of service have elapsed with an employer.

    The caucus staffer who has maintained his employment, despite committing potentially illegal acts in the course of his work, has no right to continue working for caucus regardless of what yourself, Maureen, or any of the others supporting this staffer’s reprehensible behaviour has to say on the matter.

    Regards,

    Hayley

    Reply
  3. I too think he/she should be dismissed. But I’m not a member of an angry firing squad like Lenore’s people. As the lawyer stated, due process to a civil servant that isn’t even employed by the NDP.

    Thankfully, Gary and most of his team and supporters knew how to handle this. Speaks volumes about Lenore and her ways though.

    Reply
  4. Hi Lester,

    Thanks for your commentary, but in fact it was I who authored the letter, and I am an undecided NSNDP voter and certainly not a part of what you term “Lenore’s people”.

    Call me old school, but I’d like to give the candidates a fair shake, and will therefore listen to the final speeches before I decide who gets my vote. (Although that is now down to Lenore and Gary, since Dave Wilson has failed to condemn the corrupt actions of the caucus staff violating laws for the benefit of his campaign, and many of his supporters – including interim leader Maureen MacDonald – have fought tooth and nail to prevent accountability with regards to this issue.)

    How long do you think any other civil servant would keep their job if they violated privacy laws and the Criminal Code for political reasons?

    Once again, your assumptions have been proven inaccurate.

    Good day,

    Hayley

    Reply

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