EDMONTON – An Edmonton judge has put the brakes on the province’s plan to release the salary information of Alberta Crown prosecutors. The salaries were to be released on the province’s so-called sunshine list Friday.
Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Doreen Sulyma granted an interim injunction Thursday afternoon, ruling that publishing the information could jeopardize the prosecutors’ right to safety and security under the charter.
“Crown prosecutors undertake a lot of risks in the work that they do. They deal, often times, with dangerous people, people who are often motivated to do harm to Crown prosecutors,” explained Paul Moreau, the prosecutor’s lawyer. “The more information is out there in the public domain about a Crown prosecutor, the less secure they are.”
The Crown had argued prosecutors’ names and salary ranges are already public knowledge — available through the FOIP process — and adding the specific salaries would not cause any harm.
In December, the government announced that compensation — including salary, benefit and severance amounts — for government employees with base salaries above $100,000 would be publicly disclosed, with the first list to be released online Friday, Jan. 31.
READ MORE: Alberta brings in new salary reporting rules
However, the government received a statement of claim Wednesday, notifying the province of a lawsuit filed by an unnamed Crown prosecutor. The identity of the lawyer is under a publication ban.
The person who filed the claim said the publication of prosecutors’ salaries would be a violation of prosecutorial independence and prosecutors could face harassment from organized crime as a consequence.
The Crown prosecutor asked for an immediate stay of publication of the list (specifically the prosecutors’ salaries), pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
The move to make public the salaries and benefits of the government’s top wage earners came at the request of Redford after her office refused a directive from the privacy commissioner to release details of severance paid to Redford’s former chief of staff, Stephen Carter.
Carter later said he was paid out $130,000 after being let go six months into his contract.
The injunction will remain in place until the case can be fully argued in court.
With files from Vassy Kapelos, Global News and The Canadian Press.
This story was originally published Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. It was updated around 4:45 p.m. Thursday to include the judge’s decision.