Beating an Encrypted Horse

Publish date: Aug 23, 2020
Tags: municipal government opinion local privacy

EDIT: Perhaps Too Negative

I’m debating whether this particular post is too negative. It does illustrate my frustration with this situation and the people involved, but I prefer something I like to call “Positive Political Action”, which attempts to emphasize the good points of one’s position rather than attacking those who disagree, and encourages collaboration over confrontation. Of course the challenge is that one need to be able to recognize the disingenuous or honest but unhealthy (maybe even toxic) people who can derail or manipulate collaboration and positivity.

Perhaps the language I have used makes it entertaining enough that it’s a reasonable balance?

Midland Encrypted Police Records or C’mon Folks, Elvis Has Left the Building

It should be over, but it’s not.

There is an Offer of Settlement in Principle

The Town of Midland sent a memo to councillors regarding the status of the lawsuit. Subsequently a memo was sent indicating that a settlement has been reached, as reported in the two local mainstream news outlets: Simcoe.com: Town of Midland Settles Lawsuit with Councillor Bill Gordon — $95,000 later, and MidlandToday.ca: Town Offers Settlement in Litigation Against Councillor.

And Yet the Flogging Continues

Despite that, Councillor Bill Gordon has started calling the settlement a ‘police data breach’ on his Facebook page

In response to the settlement memo

Councillor Bill Gordon I was forced to commit the largest police data breach ever known in Canada. But they promised me indemnity in exchange for dropping the law suit that’s cost me a years worth of council pay…

There’s making political hay, and then there is…

I Think I Just Had a ‘Poltergeist’ Moment

Later, his friends at the local ‘citizen journalist’ group “Our Midland” posted on Facebook the following claims

§ One week prior to Midland Police Service (MPS) disbanding, all administrative data was pulled from the MPS server/hard drives and provided to the Town of Midland. This was done again as a refresh on the final day of operation of MPS.
§ On the last day of MPS operations, the server and all hard drives from MPS were physically handed to the administration at the Town of Midland. The data on the hard drives were encrypted.
      o Reason for encryption – All data remaining on the hard drives were of police sensitive nature and are to be used by authorized police personnel only or an approved third party “officer of the courts” (lawyer). This data is not for public viewing.
§ The Town of Midland (ToM) Chief Administrative Officer, CAO John Skorobohacz, and town Solicitor, Amanpreet Sidhu and the personnel from the Midland Police Services Board, which comprised of George Dixon, Mayor Stewart Strathearn, Deputy Mayor Mike Ross, Judy Contin and Judith Clapperton, began negotiating with the OPP in an attempt to gather the data off of the hard drives.
§ The original draft agreement between the two parties had the OPP redacting two particular classifications that were held in the hard drives.
§ Upon further investigation by OPP legal counsel, they wanted to speak to Michael Osborne (former MPS Chief of Police) and Bill Gordon (former MPS IT Manager).
§ Senior OPP personnel attended the meeting with Mike Osborne and Bill Gordon. After OPP was made aware of further information that was on the hard drives, they decided to send this information back to the OPP legal counsel. It should be known that it was now into July 2019 and with multiple personnel on vacation the process between the ToM and OPP had slowed down.
§ The ToM was made aware of the slowdown in proceedings and at the same time Councillor Bill Gordon had scheduled and entered into council agenda to update all of Midland Council as to where the proceedings were at this time.
§ Before Councillor Bill Gordon could present this information to Council, the group from the Town of Midland quickly proceeded to lodge a lawsuit against Bill Gordon and Mike Osborne. By doing this, Bill Gordon was legally stopped from speaking on this subject, even to his fellow councillors.
§ When the OPP found out about the two lawsuits that the group from the ToM had filed, they immediately pulled out of any negotiations with the ToM.
§ It should be noted that during negotiations between OPP and ToM, the town attempted over 10 times to have the OPP charge Mike Osborne and Bill Gordon with a criminal offence for depriving the town of the data. Both individuals were interviewed by the OPP and the OPP came to the conclusion that no criminal acts had occurred. When the group from the ToM were made aware of the decision, they were not pleased and lodged their complaint straight through to the Commissioner of the OPP. This proved to be unsuccessful.
§ After the lawsuit was lodged, the ToM legal representatives began talking with Bill Gordon’s legal counsel. Many exchanges of communication occurred over the next while and even some offers from both sides to find a settlement. When this was not successful, eventually, the ToM group proposed a concept of finding an independent ‘officer of the courts” (lawyer) who would be a custodian of the hard drives with data.
§ From this a proposal was drafted outlining the actions and commitments for both sides.
§ Bill Gordon and his legal counsel agreed to the settlement. These final steps all occurred in the early part of March 2020. Bill Gordon through his legal counsel provided the encryption keys for the hard drives and those were delivered to the agreed upon “officer of the courts”. This “officer of the courts” is bound by strict laws as to what information can be released from these hard drives.
§ By March 20, 2020 all business proceedings were fulfilled to meet the “Out of Court Settlement”, although, there is one procedure that still has not been finalized. Over 133 days have passed and we are of the understanding that the Town of Midland has still not filed with the court system the “Minutes of Settlement” to close the case down.

Silence is Golden

This actually makes me wonder about the timelines and understanding I originally had about this matter, and not in Councillor Gordon’s favour. Of course, having conversed with these folks in person, and seen a lot online, there is a whole undercurrent of a “Made in Midland ‘Deep State’” theory going on. It’s getting rather tiresome. One thing I think is clear is that for all the claims of wanting things over and done with in a positive manner, that’s not the reality.