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Alberta MLA Young declined to give statement in privacy breach probe: documents

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

EDMONTON - A document says a former police officer who is now a member of the Alberta legislature wouldn't give a statement to investigators probing a potential breach of a teen's privacy rights.

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht, in a letter to the teen dated last November, said Steve Young, who is now a member of the legislature, was the acting staff sergeant behind a city police ad campaign that mistakenly identified her in April 2012.

Knecht added that many people were involved in the campaign and there was no intent to reveal the young person's identity.

The chief noted, however, that when RCMP probed the apparent breach, Young was approached by investigators but "he declined to provide a statement as he was no longer employed by the (Edmonton Police Service)."

There were no charges and the teen is now suing Young and others involved for $40,000, claiming distress and humiliation.

Young declined to discuss the situation Monday.

"The matter has now evolved into a civil matter and as such it is inappropriate for me to comment at this time," he said. "Should I be required to speak in this regard, I will do so with the utmost of sincerity and confidence in providing the necessary information."

The ad campaign's aim was to get people with outstanding warrants to turn themselves in by publicly identifying them. Young offenders, however, can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act on the principle that they should not be stigmatized for life for errors made in pre-adulthood. Penalties of knowingly breaching the act include a maximum two years in prison.

Knecht said internal checks and balances failed, leading to the 16-year-old's name and photo being released in the media on April 2, 2012.

"Although it appears Steve Young was responsible for the development of this project, and may have been the person ultimately responsible for determining who made the media list, it was also apparent that there was a systematic failure," wrote Knecht.

The police chief said many people were involved in the project and that while no one flagged a problem, "there was no intent to release a young person's information to the public through the media."

He said the matter was turned over to the RCMP for a criminal investigation. The RCMP referred its findings to Crown prosecutors who in turn decided that charges were not warranted.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined on Monday to say.

"In general, the Crown does not comment on whether an individual is or was the subject of an investigation ... unless of course it’s on public record, such as when charges are laid," said Michelle Davio in an email.

There was also confusion Monday over whether the RCMP conducted a criminal investigation.

RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Josee Valiquette couldn't immediately be reached for comment. But she told the Edmonton Journal that Mounties did not conduct an investigation, but instead reviewed how Edmonton police handled the case — at the police's request.

The ad campaign was rolled out while Young was on leave from the police so he could run as a first-time candidate for Premier Alison Redford's Progressive Conservatives in the Edmonton-Riverview constituency. He won the riding handily on April 23, 2012.

Young made headlines last December when Redford elevated him to cabinet as the new associate minister in charge of public safety only to drop him on the eve of the swearing-in.

Media stories at the time suggested Young was dropped because he gave evasive testimony during a 2007 internal police hearing over whether he Tasered a suspect. He was cleared in the hearing, but the officer in charge said he was disturbed by Young's "disjointed" testimony.

Redford's office declined to say Monday whether it was the police ad campaign that prompted her to drop Young from cabinet.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/the-canadian-press/140224/alberta-mla-young-declined-give-statement-privacy-breach-pro