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DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION

Under the Privacy Act, personal information about an individual may be provided to a Member of Parliament (a member of the House of Commons) or a Senator only when the MP or Senator is working to assist that individual.

Only information that would have been provided to the individual (if he or she had asked) can be given to the MP or Senator. If, in exceptional circumstances, it is agreed that other information should be provided, then the MP or Senator must agree not to disclose the information to the individual concerned.

For example, Joe Smith has applied to immigrate to Canada and his brother, a Canadian citizen, has asked his MP to support the application. Joe has a criminal record in his home country for robbery and was paroled for good behaviour 10 years ago. Under the laws of his country, Joe is allowed to know what the Parole Board's findings were. As this information is available to Joe, it could also be provided to the MP. Files also show that Joe was once suspected of belonging to a terrorist organization. This information is not available to Joe. Only if the circumstances are considered to be exceptional will authorities consider releasing this information to the MP, and only if the MP agrees not to disclose the information.

There are occasions when a third party will represent the interests of a constituent to a Member of Parliament. The third party must have the constituent's written authorization for the disclosure of personal details which would not be given to the MP without such requirement.

For more precise information, please see section 8(2) of the Privacy Act.

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