A security firm hired by the City of Saint-Lambert has delved into the credit record of municipal councillors without their knowledge, a practice that is questionable according to experts and that is causing concern to the office of the minister of municipal Affairs.
Two municipal councillors, Loïc Blancquaert and Bernard Rodrigue, have discovered that the firm Group Trak had accessed their credit report last summer.
This firm was hired by Saint-Lambert at the request of the mayor, Pierre Brodeur, which was launched in July 2019 in a hunt for journalistic sources to find out who, among the municipal councillors, would have passed information to the local newspaper.
The two councillors said they have never given their consent, which is legally mandatory to access the credit file of a person.
It is M. Blancquaert, who made the discovery by random chance, a few weeks ago, when he saw her credit file on Equifax.
“I was completely stunned when I saw it. It’s illegal, ” he said.
The latter has filed complaints with several bodies, including the Office of the private security and the Commission of access to information, which we confirmed that it had opened an investigation.
The ministry worried
The other advisor, Bernard Rodrigue, asked who at the City would have provided his personal information to Group Trak to allow access to his credit file.
“Either the mayor, the director-general or a lawyer hired by the City, I do not know who has transferred the data, but I’ve never seen that in my life. It has gone over a line. […] What is my credit has to do with an investigation on a supposed leak of journalism ? “questions there.
The case also concerned the office of the minister of municipal Affairs.
Last year, after the Bureau investigation had revealed that the firm Group Trak had spied on the emails of some elected officials, the minister of municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, was asked by the integrity Commissioner and city ethics (CIME) to address the issue.
Last week, the cabinet of the minister confirmed having asked the CROWN to expand its ongoing investigation to include research conducted in the records of the credit counselors.
“If these new facts are proven, it is certain that we disagreed and that we do not endorse at all,” said his press officer, Bénédicte Trottier Lavoie.
Silence of the mayor
Who has decided to search the credit files of the two advisors ? Is this a directive from the mayor, or rather a Group initiative Trak ?
It is Impossible to know. The mayor Brodeur has declined our interview requests. He has indicated in writing to remain ” available to support all levels of the department.”
Ditto on the side of Group Trak, where it was clarified, however, that generally these are their clients, who are in charge of obtaining consents for access to credit files.
Also councillor in Saint-Lambert, Brigitte Marcotte was not detected traces of a Group visit Trak in his credit file. But it insisted that light be shed for his colleagues.
“This is not acceptable. This is not legal […] We are going to find what he is investigating the credit ? It’s going to demonstrate what ? That a adviser is not solvent ? And after ? What it would serve less well the society ? “, asks she.
The ministry of municipal Affairs and intervenes in Saint-Lambert for a few months already in order to “reestablish a climate of work-appropriate” to the City.
Search in the credit file of the elect is not a way of doing ” that is encouraged or even discussed by the ministry of municipal Affairs and Housing “, have we had it confirmed at the ministry.
“When a company or a person gathers information about another person, it must have a serious and legitimate interest to do it, stresses Me Alexandre Plourde, Option consumer. In these circumstances it, find out who is the source of an item of media, it raises questions in this regard. […] Was it relevant to refer to the credit file for these purposes there ? “
Professor of law at the University of Montreal Pierre Trudel abounds in the same direction.
“There must be a link between the purpose and the research being done in the credit of someone. […] The credit history of a city councillor does not say much about its ability to perform its functions “, he says.
That is there in a credit report ?
- Personal information, such as name, date of birth and social insurance number.
- Financial information, such as retail loans, credit cards and lines of credit, the amount of the debts, the regularity of payments, nsf cheques, etc
- Bankruptcy or court decisions in the area of credit.
Who can see a credit report ?
- Any person or company who wants to do so must obtain permission from the third party.
- Rare exceptions do exist. A bank, for example, can transmit information without the authorization of the police.
- Anyone who collects, holds, communicates to a third party or uses personal information about others without complying with the Act on the protection of personal information in the private sector is punishable by a fine of 1000 $ to 10 000 $.
Source : Commission of access to information
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