Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ex-Medical Officer Wants Details of Her Relationship to Con Man Kept Secret

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ex-Medical Officer Wants Details of Her Relationship to Con Man Kept Secret

Article excerpt

Doc wants relationship to con man kept secret

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TORONTO - The former head of a public health unit is looking to Canada's top court to keep secret the embarrassing details of her personal relationship with a convicted fraudster the agency hired as its chief financial officer.

In urging the Supreme Court of Canada to weigh in, Dr. Kim Barker warns public interest considerations will unfairly trample personal privacy concerns if court-ordered disclosure of the sensitive information is allowed to stand.

"The 'public interest override' provision found in access to information or privacy legislation across the country is an exceptional measure," Barker argues in her leave application. "(It is) to be applied only when it has been established that the public interest in disclosure is 'clearly' greater than preventing an unjustified invasion of personal privacy."

The case arose in 2013, when Algoma Public Health based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., hired Shaun Rothberg as its interim CFO for six months ending in May 2014. His hiring came after his predecessor left amid criminal charges of breach of trust and theft.

Rothberg, however, turned out to be Shaun Rootenberg, of Thornhill, Ont., who had a criminal record for multiple counts of fraud. The revelation, by media outlet SooToday, prompted Barker to resign in early 2015, sparking questions about her role in his hiring and whether their personal relationship had put her in an undisclosed conflict of interest.

The health unit has long wanted to release the resulting forensic report under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to "inform the citizenry about the activities of the institution during a time when its integrity was in question." The province's privacy commissioner agreed a "compelling public interest in the disclosure" outweighed Barker's privacy concerns. …

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