OTTAWA - A Liberal party employee who was fired after posting a cabinet minister's divorce details online says he acted alone.
Adam Carroll told the House of Commons ethics committee he set up the Twitter account vikileaks in direct response to the introduction of online surveillance legislation.
"I was never ordered nor asked to do it," he told MPs.
"I never discussed my actions with any members of Parliament, including the interim leader of the Liberal party. I acted on my own."
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews introduced Bill C-30 in February, sparking immediate criticism for giving authorities too much power to snoop into people's online lives.
Toews infuriated critics when he said that opposing the bill put them on the side of child pornographers.
Carroll called Toews' language polarizing and he said he felt compelled to bring attention to the threat posed by the bill.
"I took an approach that, put simply, argued, if the minister feels strongly that he should know everything about us, perhaps we should know more about the man who wants unrestricted access to our information," he said.
"To make the point further, everything I posted was from publicly available documents."
The Conservative-dominated committee grilled Carroll about how the documents came into his possession, noting only two people had ever signed them out of the court in Manitoba.
Carroll said he didn't know how the files ended up in his office, but they were accessible to everyone who worked there.
He said the fact the Liberal party had them wasn't unique, given that every political party maintains files on opposition MPs.
Both the Tories and the New Democrats said later they don't maintain those kind of personal files and would never use them.
Though Carroll insisted he acted alone, Tory MP Dean Del Mastro said Carroll had been thrown under the bus by a party protecting its highest levels.
"This was nothing but a partisan activity with co-ordination from the leader's office," Del Mastro.
Carroll called the accusation baseless, and the New Democrats accused the Tories of going on a fishing opposition to gather dirt on their political rivals.
The issue should not have been brought before the committee, said New Democrat MP Charlie Angus.
"We shouldn't be using parliamentary resources just to trash people and throw mud," Angus said.
"We have substantive work to do here."
Toews raised the issue of the vikileaks account in the Commons, and the Speaker ruled the matter was closed after interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae apologized and Carroll lost his job.
But the Conservatives decided to call Carroll to testify anyway.
Late Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Toews said the minister was satisfied that Carroll had appeared.
"His testimony has raised serious questions as to why the Liberal dirty tricks machine is collecting personal information on their political opponents using taxpayer dollars," Julie Carmichael said in an email.
She said it was now up to Rae to answer questions about the actions of his office.
Rae said all parties have that kind of information on each other. The question is whether it is appropriate to use it, even if it is in the public domain.
"That's why Mr. Carroll is no longer with us," he said.
Del Mastro said the issue needed to be discussed with committee to show that actions like Carroll's have consequences.
"I believe in Parliament. We don't just make laws. We're also held and elected to a fairly significant and high office," he said.
"Think of the example this is setting for people in other places, think of the example it is setting for children."
Carroll was called before the committee on the grounds he'd used Commons resources to post the material, and he acknowledged Tuesday he had used his work computer to post several of the messages.
But Angus said it was a bit rich for any MP to take umbrage with that, noting the number of them who use their own social media accounts on government-issued BlackBerrys to try to score political points.
Like similar legislation introduced in the past by both Conservative and Liberal governments, the new bill includes provisions that would: <em>With files from CBC</em> (Shutterstock)
Require telecommunications and internet providers to give subscriber data to police, national security agencies and the Competition Bureau without a warrant, including names, phone numbers and IP addresses. (CP)
Force internet providers and other makers of technology to provide a "back door" to make communications accessible to police. (Getty)
Allow police to get warrants to obtain information transmitted over the internet and data related to its transmission, including locations of individuals and transactions. (Alamy)
Allow courts to compel other parties to preserve electronic evidence. (Alamy)
However, unlike the most recent previous version of the bill, the new legislation: (Alamy)
Requires telecommunications providers to disclose, without a warrant, just six types of identifiers from subscriber data instead of 11. (Alamy)
Provides for an internal audit of warrantless requests that will go to a government minister and oversight review body. Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews is pictured. (CP)
Includes a provision for a review after five years. (Alamy)
Allows telecommunications service providers to take 18 months instead of 12 months to buy equipment that would allow police to intercept communications. (Alamy)
Changes the definition of hate propaganda to include communication targeting sex, age and gender. (Alamy)