Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs is miffed its employees are leaking classified internal documents to the media and wants them to stop, according to a newly leaked email excerpt obtained by VICE News.
According to the email sent yesterday from senior Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) officials to ministry staff regarding "Unauthorized disclosure of information," recent leaks of "sensitive" internal documents to media outlets are "harmful to the hundreds of thousands of public servants who cherish the public service values of neutrality and loyalty."
"[W]e urge you to think about the damage this inflicts on your colleagues, our institution, the Public Service of Canada, and on yourself. Any individual found to be involved in such violations will face serious consequences," the statement concludes.
The email comes on the heels of leaks from Foreign Affairs and other government departments in the final weeks leading up to the next federal election.
Just yesterday, the Canadian Press reported on a leaked "secret" briefing note from senior Foreign Affairs department officials to whoever becomes their next minister warning about how Canada's international reputation has been "eroded" in key foreign policy areas such as environmental sustainability.
According to the Canadian Press, that memo says cuts in funding for gender equality and governance "has eroded Canada's reputation as a leader on these issues and limited the impact and sustainability of our development co-operation overall." The memo goes on to recommend that DFATD get more involved in promoting climate change and clean technology.
Earlier this week, Anonymous hackers leaked a "secret" document from the Treasury Board of Canada about the redevelopment of Canada's diplomatic centers in the UK. The National Post reported that the document from February 2014 outlines cost overruns caused by the Department of Foreign Affairs' decision to sell and relocate Canada's diplomatic buildings in London.
In a statement to VICE News, DFATD said it does not comment on leaked documents, but confirmed it sent an email to employees this week reminding them of "values and ethics code for the public sector" and of the "security information act." The spokesperson said the department is "committed to sound stewardship and information management practices. We are continuously taking measures to ensure the safeguarding of our information holdings and to protecting classified information on our networks."
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Here's the excerpt of the email obtained by VICE News:
Unauthorized disclosure of information
We recognize that the vast majority of DFATD employees are very loyal to the department and uphold the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. Your good work continues to be a strength for this department.
DFATD has had an excellent record for handling sensitive matters with care and discretion. However, in recent days, senior management has become aware of several leaks which have involved sensitive, classified draft internal documents to media outlets.
Such leaks are harmful to the hundreds of thousands of public servants who cherish the public service values of neutrality and loyalty. Leaks also hurt the public service as an institution and can have consequences for Canada internationally.
To any individual who acts in ways that violate our public service values and the Security of Information Act, we urge you to think about the damage this inflicts on your colleagues, our institution, the Public Service of Canada, and on yourself. Any individual found to be involved in such violations will face serious consequences.
Daniel Jean Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Malcolm Brown Deputy Minister of International Development
T. Christine Hogan Deputy Minister of International Trade
Peter M. Boehm Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs