News Canada

Minister's e-mail concerns gay Iranian-Canadians 0

Jessica Hume, Parliamentary Bureau
Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, speaks to the media at Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario Sept 24, 2012. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, speaks to the media at Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario Sept 24, 2012. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

OTTAWA - 

OTTAWA -- Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is denying his office breached privacy laws when it emailed LGBT members of the Iranian-Canadian community last Friday.

Concerns were raised by some members of that community when they received a letter illuminating them to the ministry's pride at "[increasing] the resettlement of gay refugees living abroad as part of our refugee programs." Many who received the letter were unsure how Kenney knew their sexual orientation and email addresses and said they had never contacted his office directly.

A spokesman for Kenney's office said when they receive online petitions, the names and contact information is included in those documents.

Patricia Wilson, a privacy lawyer, said in the private sector, petitions are required to include an opt-out option for those not wanting to include their contact information or be contacted by the intended recipient of the petition.

"Whether this constitutes a privacy breach, I'm not sure, I'd have to have more information," Wilson said. "But in the private sector they are required to have a notifier that sufficiently [makes clear] they don't have to include their email addresses."

A spokesman for the Privacy Commissioner said she is aware of media reports on this "and it is troubling," but added that "our office does not appear to have jurisdiction over political parties under either the Privacy Act or the Personal Information Act."

Samira Mohyeddin, an Iranian-Candian business owner and member of the LGBT community, said though she does not support Harper, the Canadian government's record on LGBT issues still trumps Iran's.

"We are no lovers of the Harper regime, but the fact is that in these two years alone I know 10 Iranians who have been given asylum here based on their sexual orientation," she said. "Homosexuality is still punishable by death in Iran."


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