Canada (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) v. Maydak, 2005 FCA 186

June 2014

Summary: The term “investigation” in s. 22(3) of the Privacy Act is a broad term, and includes investigations that do not lead to any particular proceeding or action taken.

Facts: The United States of America sought the extradition of an individual, and Canada issued an Authority to Proceed against him. Sometime later, he sought access to all personal information held by the RCMP. The RCMP refused, citing s. 22(1)(a) of the Privacy Act – information prepared or obtained by an investigative body as part of an investigation. The Privacy Commissioner agreed with the RCMP. The Federal Court, however, concluded that the information did not pertain to an investigation. The only actions taken by the RCMP were placing (and then removing) his name from CPIC, and communicating by e-mail with the Department of Justice as to the status of the extradition proceeding. The Federal Court concluded that this did not constitute an “investigation” as that term is defined in s. 22(3) of the Act. The RCMP appealed that decision.

Result: The Federal Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered that the information did not need to be disclosed.

Decision: The Federal Court of Appeal concluded that the fact that the information obtained by the RCMP was not of great value is irrelevant to the determination: the only question is whether it was obtained in a law-enforcement investigation. The Court of Appeal also concluded that the term “investigation” is a very broad term, relying upon both previous court decisions and dictionary definitions. The information obtained by the RCMP was for the purpose of locating and arresting the individual to give effect to the extradition proceedings and then monitoring his progress throughout the extradition process. This is an “investigation” under s. 22(3) of the Privacy Act.

Principles:

  1. The term “investigation” in s. 22 of the Privacy Act is a broad term that includes the making of a search or enquiry.
  2. An action is still an “investigation” regardless of how valuable the information has become.
  3. An “investigation” in s. 22 of the Privacy Act includes past, current, and future investigations.
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