A Manitoba judge has ruled that federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews should be allowed to know who was looking at his divorce file.
A Court of Queen's Bench justice ruled on Wednesday that Toews, the Conservative MP for the Provencher riding in southern Manitoba, has a right to see who read his file at the Winnipeg courthouse.
Details of Toews's acrimonious 2007 divorce, including snippets from affidavits filed by the minister and his ex-wife, were published online in what became known as the Vikileaks affair.
The anonymous Twitter account, which began publishing the divorce details in mid-February, was attacking Toews over Bill C-30, an online surveillance bill that the minister is sponsoring.
The Vikileaks account was eventually shut down. It was later revealed that a Liberal Party staff member was behind the Twitter account. Adam Carroll resigned at the end of the month.
Privacy concerns cited
The Manitoba court registrar originally denied a request by Toews's lawyer to obtain the names of those who had filed a requisition form to view the divorce files, citing privacy concerns.
"The registrar had declined to give it to me because the registrar was concerned … this is a novel thing; this has just never happened before," Robert Tapper, Toews's lawyer, told CBC News.
"So I applied for a court order to compel the registrar to give it to me, which the judge then granted."
In his ruling, Justice Richard Saull said it seems unfair that Toews's personal matters should be "produced at the whim of any passerby and that he not know who had access, regardless of that person's motives."
Saull also said civil court files automatically include the names of anyone who has requested to see them.
"If someone wants to access a public record for mischief purposes … they're not allowed to assert anonymity in the process," Tapper said.
"Public documents contained within a court docket … they're open to the public," he added. "So the fact is, you go down there and you say, 'I want copies of these things.' You can't go there under a mask."
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