Veterans Affairs bureaucrats penalized for violating critic's privacy

Bruyea calls penalties a “slap on the wrist”

The 54 Veterans Affairs bureaucrats who accessed the personal files of VA critic Sean Bruyea and used the confidential information to smear him as unstable have been issued reprimands and suspended for three days. An outraged Bruyea called the penalties a “slap on the wrist,” saying he received guarantees from Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn that people would be fired over the matter. The revelations about VA bureaucrats improperly handling Bruyea’s personal file first surfaced last fall, when the federal privacy commissioner’s ruled that privacy laws had been violated. The government settled out-of-court- for $400,000 and an apology to Bruyea. Minister Blackburn defended the punishment, saying VA bureaucrats have learned their lesson. “I don’t want to excuse what happened,” said Blackburn, “but it was part of the reality of the department at the time.”

The Globe and Mail

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