Royal Canadian Mounted Police revealed absolute discharge

To be allowed to work at an airport, a man applied in July 2010 for the necessary Transportation Security Clearance. In September 2011, Transport Canada (TC) informed the man of its refusal to grant him the security clearance based on information received from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The man complained to our Office that the RCMP had disclosed his personal information to TC.

However, in applying for the security clearance the complainant had authorized TC to seek all relevant information including information in law enforcement records and had also authorized anyone having information relevant to the clearance to release such information to TC.

In carrying out a law enforcement record check for TC, the RCMP obtained from police in B.C. a summary of an incident in 2009 involving the complainant. The RCMP added information that the incident had been transferred to a provincial court which granted the complainant an absolute discharge a few months later.

In 2011, the RCMP provided TC with its report, including the information about the incident and the absolute discharge.

Under the Criminal Records Act the RCMP is not allowed to disclose the record of an absolute discharge when more than a year has passed unless the Minister responsible for the RCMP has given prior approval.

Because no such approval was obtained in this case and 19 months had elapsed since the absolute discharge, the disclosure contravened the Criminal Records Act. Nor was it one of the limited disclosures of personal information authorized in the Privacy Act. Accordingly, we found the complaint to be well founded.

We recommended that the RCMP send a letter of apology to the complainant.

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