Two federal ministries are investigating potential violations of privacy laws after government officials shared details about a Postmedia news story and the journalist pursuing it, with representatives of Irving Shipbuilding.
Following a tip, Postmedia submitted questions on March 6 to two departments, National Defence and Public Services and Procurement Canada, about possible problems with some of the welding on HMCS Harry DeWolf, the first of the six new Arctic patrol ships Irving is building for the Royal Canadian Navy as part of a project that will cost taxpayers $3.5 billion.
However, just 90 minutes after submitting questions — and before receiving a response from either government department — an Irving representative emailed Postmedia to say the company had been made aware of the inquiry and wanted to discuss it. Irving Shipbuilding President Kevin McCoy then telephoned and after a brief discussion, threatened legal action against the news organization. Irving’s lawyers would be “making sure you understand that if you write something false about our reputation we will pursue it,” he said.
This is the third time information about Postmedia’s investigations, as well as a reporter’s personal information, have been shared with the defence industry. It is the second time specific inquiries regarding government shipbuilding have been communicated to Irving.