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Whistleblowers formally sue P.E.I. government for $1.8M after private information leaked

Privacy commissioner says Liberal party breached rules when it leaked emails, files on three whistleblowers
Three former P.E.I. civil servants - from left, Cora Plourd Nicholson, Susan Holmes and Svetlana Tenetko - who came forward with allegations of fraud and bribery in P.E.I.’s business immigration program have formally filed a lawsuit against the provincial government. - SaltWire file photo

Three former civil servants who came forward with allegations of fraud and bribery in P.E.I.’s business immigration program have formally filed a lawsuit against the provincial government.

The three plaintiffs - Susan Holmes, Cora Plourd Nicholson, and Svetlana Tenetko – say the P.E.I. government, former premier Robert Ghiz, Allan Campbell and Michael Mayne breached their privacy rights by leaking private information after they came forward publicly with their allegations.

The three plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $1.8 million.

The three women say that after they came forward at a 2011 news conference with allegations of bribery and fraud in the business immigration program, personal information designed to damage their claims was deliberately given out to the media, including The Guardian, by top Liberals.

A report by the province's privacy commissioner, completed in 2017, found the province had breached the women's privacy rights, though it couldn't specifically say how the leak occurred.

The statement of claim said personal information was printed out on Sept. 15, 2011, in the innovation minister's office as the province was just weeks away from an Oct. 3 provincial election.

The claim filed Monday is related to a previously filed claim that was issued in February 2019. Rather than attempting to resolve the case at the time or proceed with litigation, the defendants demanded notice under provincial legislation, which made this new filing necessary.

The law firm, Waddell Phillips Professional Corporation, representing the plaintiffs, said this new lawsuit was filed Monday in the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. 

"We were very disappointed that the government did not hold itself immediately accountable, particularly given the commissioner's findings and the damage that was done to our lives and careers,” said Holmes.


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