EDITORIAL: Saanich should launch independent investigation of spyware scandal

The use of Spector 360 involved the collection of personal information in violation of provincial privacy law

Saanich council should call for an independent body to investigate the spyware scandal.

The use of Spector 360 involved the collection of personal information in violation of provincial privacy law as determined by B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

There are some who still debate the seriousness of that fact. Some councillors and District officials balked after Denham relayed the “near-complete lack of awareness and understanding of the privacy provisions” in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act she observed from the staff members she interviewed.

Under Denham’s mandate, she was able to offer recommendations or orders as a result of her investigation. She chose the former option, believing the District would act quickly to address her concerns. It seems the municipality and elected officials support doing just that, but only when it comes to implementing Denham’s tightly restricted administrative recommendations. What Denham was unable to answer, what was left hanging after her report – and what council displayed an unwillingness to clearly address in the public arena on Monday night – was whether there was malicious intent when Spector 360 was installed on the computer of Mayor Richard Atwell, the Chief Administrative Officer and 11 others. Instead, council picked apart Atwell’s complex set of motions and chose instead to ask for an internal staff report on the murky period between Nov. 19 and Jan. 20, when spyware was deemed a reasonable fix to IT security shortcomings. Now, senior staff – with the exception of interim CAO Andy Laidlaw – will be reporting back to council in-camera on their own highly questionable decision made after a single meeting with no minutes for reference. Council said it will then decide how to proceed.

A motion for an independent investigation didn’t make it onto the floor on Monday. Atwell said he thought it was doomed to fail, based on the opposition to his other motions. But he or another councillor should have put it forward, if only to demonstrate the lack of support for such a move.

It’s proper to give staff a chance to explain themselves in most cases, but independent review is necessary when those implicated are investigating themselves. What was needed Monday night was resolve. What council demonstrated was its fractured dysfunction.


Just Posted

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

A pub patio in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Patio and picnic dining could mean a free meal for Greater Victoria patrons

Local celebrities pick up the tab with latest Greater Victoria chamber contest

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Saturday announced a COVID-19 exposure at Oak Bay High School. (Black Press Media File).
Oak Bay High School subject of COVID-19 exposure

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) said possible exposure happened June 9-10

St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Oak Bay Rotary Club member Lorna Curtis takes over as District Governor of Rotary District 5020 on July 1. (Courtesy Lorna Curtis)
Former Oak Bay recreation director goes international with Rotary

Lorna Curtis takes over as district governor on July 1

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read