Sarah Carson asked for and received the documents in April 2011 — right in the middle of the last federal election campaign, according to court records tabled in the Manitoba legislature Tuesday by Tory justice critic Kelvin Goertzen. Carson was an NDP intern for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
Goertzen suggested Tuesday there was an organized attempt by the provincial NDP to embarrass Toews.
"It remains that there were only two individuals who ever accessed this document, and they were both in your employ," Goertzen told Premier Greg Selinger in the chamber.
"I would ask you whether or not you're going to undertake an investigation to determine why it is these two individuals ... were accessing the divorce records of Mr. Toews."
The documents contain detailed allegations from Toews' former wife, and were leaked on the Internet in February by a Liberal Party staffer in Ottawa, Adam Carroll, who was later fired. Carroll had set up a Twitter account under the name Vikileaks and initially remained anonymous.
Toews later revealed that a Manitoba NDP policy analyst named Thomas Linner had gone to the Winnipeg courthouse that same month and had accessed his divorce documents. The New Democrats fired back, saying Linner only did so did so after Toews had accused the federal NDP of being connected to Vikileaks. They also pointed out the documents are open to the public.
Carson's access to the court records was much earlier than Linner's and long before the Vikileaks controversy.
Selinger said he had no knowledge of Carson's actions.
"(Goertzen) is trying to ask me whether people who have a job in the provincial government did something inappropriate," Selinger said in the chamber.
"There's an implication there that they did it as part of their job. I don't know that to be the case. I know in the one case — the Thomas Linner case — that he indicated that he did this on his own time and that it had nothing to do with his employment within the province."
Linner, who did not respond to an interview request late Tuesday, is believed to have accessed the court documents during a lunch hour in February. New Democrat member of Parliament Pat Martin later wrote on Twitter that federal NDP researchers wanted to know whether there was substance to the Vikileaks details.
Carson appears to have accessed the court documents shortly after her internship ended. Carson no longer works for the New Democrats and was not directed to access the documents by provincial staff, Nammi Poorooshasb, the government's director of cabinet communications said Tuesday. She may have been a volunteer for the federal New Democrats during the 2011 election, Poorooshasb added.
A message left with Carson through her website was not immediately returned.
While Carson and Linner were the only ones who formally filed for access to Toews' divorce papers at the Winnipeg courthouse, copies of the documents have surfaced elsewhere. Adam Carroll, the man behind the Vikileaks account, said the Liberal research office in Ottawa had a copy.