MPCC-2012-045

On October 30, 2012, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) received a complaint concerning the complainant’s experience in trying to access information under the Access to Information Act (AIA) and the Privacy Act. On July 20, 2011, he requested a copy of his student file for an Air Combat System Operator course. Initially, his request was made verbally; later the same day, he put the request in writing. Eventually, he was advised by the office of the DND Director of Access to Information and Privacy (DAIP) that his request would be processed under the Privacy Act, rather than the AIA. Over the course of subsequent months he was redirected and provided with different and conflicting instructions and explanations on how to access his file. For example, one week after submitting his request, he was instructed to submit a new request in writing, which he did.

The complainant eventually received his file on November 4, 2011, but with certain key reports missing. He was informed in February 2012 to submit a new request to receive the missing material. He received the outstanding records on April 11, 2012. Due to the length of time it took for him to receive his information, as well as the difficulty he faced in accessing his file, on May 8, 2012 he requested the Canadian Forces National Investigative Services, Western Region (CFNIS WR) to investigate the matter as he was alleging an obstruction to his right to access information under the AIA and Privacy Act.

On September 12, 2012, the CFNIS WR wrote to the complainant, stating they had no mandate to investigate the matter as complaints regarding the Privacy Act must be made to the Privacy Commissioner.

After reviewing the complaint, the Deputy Commander, Canadian Forces Military Police Group/Professional Standards (Deputy Commander) wrote to the complainant on November 19, 2012 informing him the CFNIS WR had decided to reassess its position and would review his complaint that personnel at the CF Flying Training School obstructed his right to access information. The CFNIS subsequently conducted a further review of the matter and again determined the allegations did not come within its mandate and decided not to pursue the investigation.

The complainant resubmitted his complaint on January 18, 2013. On January 22, 2013, the Deputy Commander wrote to the complainant to advise that he had reviewed the complaint, relevant files as well as email exchanges between the complainant and DAIP. The Deputy Commander indicated his review revealed that although there were delays in providing information to the complainant, this did not rise to the level of an offence which the CFNIS was mandated to investigate pursuant to Defence Administrative Orders and Directives # 1001-0 (“Access to Information”).

The complainant requested a review of his conduct complaint on January 31, 2013.

From its review of the file, the Commission did not doubt that the complainant’s request for information could have been handled more efficiently. However, the management of the request for information was the responsibility of DAIP and the chain of command; and it is not for the Commission to reach conclusions with respect to non-Military Police conduct. Further, there is nothing in the documentation provided which would suggest the CFNIS acted unreasonably or in bad faith in concluding that the problems which occurred in the processing of the complainant’s request for personal information were administrative in nature. Having reviewed the available records, the Commission was satisfied with the actions of the CFNIS in this matter and the disposition of this complaint by the Deputy Commander.

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