Brinword on again in Kelowna, BC: CanPrivComm's replacement drops police surveillence camera lawsuit

Tim Meehan cypherpunks at
Sat Jul 5 05:07:49 PDT 2003

Too bad George Radwanski didn't just bring his lunch to work more often.  This
was one of his more prominent causes, an important one, which his successor is
just rolling over on.


The Toronto Star
Jul. 5, 2003. 01:00 AM
Radwanski stand-in cleans house

Sidelines aides, ends pricey B.C. court challenge Staff co-operating with
auditors: Robert Marleau


OTTAWARobert Marleau, the man replacing former privacy commissioner George
Radwanski, has moved quickly to overhaul the beleaguered office, halting a
$250,000 court challenge to RCMP surveillance cameras yesterday and sidelining
two of Radwanski's most controversial senior aides.

Marleau, a former clerk of the Commons who is filling the job on an interim
basis, said in an interview he dropped the high-profile court action in Kelowna,
B.C., that Radwanski had undertaken as a crusade because it was not "a useful
way of spending public funds."

Marleau also accepted on Wednesday the resignation and early retirement of Art
Lamarche, Radwanski's chief of corporate services. 

Marleau said there was no special incentive package offered to Lamarche to
retire July 31; it was Lamarche's own decision.

The interim privacy commissioner also ordered Dona Vallieres, Radwanski's
director of communications and frequent travel companion, to take "special
leave" with full pay pending the outcome of Auditor-General Sheila Fraser's
financial probe.

"When I came in, I took stock of the situation and thought it was in her best
interests and our best interests while the audit was ongoing, and pending its
results, that she go on special leave," Marleau said. He would not speculate on
the likelihood of Vallieres returning to her job. "The audit will dictate the
outcome," he said.

Vallieres travelled extensively with her former boss to Paris, Madrid, London,
Rome, New York and New Zealand among other destinations. Her expense claims show
she often dined at the same Ottawa restaurants preferred by the ex-commissioner.

A self-described sufferer of chronic fatigue syndrome, Vallieres had refused to
appear before the Commons committee investigating Radwanski's expenses, saying
she was ill. She did, however, appear at Radwanski's news conference the
following day.

Vallieres has declined interviews, but indignantly denied to a CTV reporter she
had any improper relationship with Radwanski.

In 2001-2002, documents show Radwanski claimed $182,777 in domestic and foreign
travel expenses. Vallieres claimed a total of $129,542 for the same period.

Marleau declined to reveal the salaries of Vallieres and Lamarche, who is on
"special leave" with full pay until his July 31 retirement, but both are
considered senior executives in the public service. Under recently announced pay
increases, an executive's salary ranges from $102,200 to $165,000.

The NDP's Pat Martin said he was pleased with the moves by Marleau, and said the
results of the auditor general's investigation may mean future sanction for
Radwanski's former aides.

"(Canadians) should be comforted by the fact that any maladministration of
public funds may be considered a criminal matter," he said.

Neither Lamarche nor Vallieres returned the Star's calls yesterday.

Marleau, and all senior officials in the privacy office, have already met with
and provided documents to federal auditors from Fraser's office, and more
interviews are set for Monday, he said. As well, a "broad" audit of staffing
practices by the Public Service Commission is underway.

"As far as I'm concerned, they have complete access," Marleau said. "I look
forward to their findings."

As for the Kelowna surveillance camera court challenge Radwanski had launched,
Marleau said he made a "risk assessment" of the likelihood of success and the
future legal costs, and believed it was "not reasonable" to proceed.

Up to now, the merits of the case hadn't been argued, yet the challenge had
already cost $250,000 to litigate, mostly in fees to Toronto lawyer Morris
Manning. The challenge, Marleau said, was not "the best use of funds of this
small office."

The federal justice department opposed Radwanski's efforts to bring the matter
to court, and Radwanski had lost his first bid for standing to intervene. 

Marleau said the office still has concerns about the privacy implications of
surveillance cameras, and if it received a complaint from an individual Kelowna
resident, which it has not, it would "pursue" the matter, and apply a test of
"reasonableness" to the use of surveillance equipment. 
Tim Meehan, Communications Director
Ontario Consumers for Safe Access to Recreational Cannabis
tim at * * 416-854-6343

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