Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang has stepped down from the NDP caucus immediately, amid an RCMP investigation.
Notley said Tuesday that her office was informed by Dang earlier that morning that the RCMP had executed a search warrant at his home.
Notley said she does not know the exact details regarding the allegation against Dang.
“At this time, we believe this matter is related to the issue that arose when Alberta Health inadvertently disclosed personal health information through the COVID-19 records website,” Notley said.
“The situation, to the best of our knowledge is as follows: In September, all Albertans heard anecdotal reports that they could access protected health information of other Albertans through the website. This was later proven to be correct,” Notley continued.
“During that time prior, when concerns were first raised about what could and couldn’t be accessed through the COVID-19 records web page, Thomas visited the website and then contacted Alberta Health proactively about his concerns.”
“We are not sure of the specifics of the current investigation.”
Notley said because the matter is under active police investigation, Dang said he is stepping down and she has accepted that request.
“Our caucus has a long-standing policy that members under active police investigation will not sit in the caucus,” Notley continued, adding her standard “arises from a very clear belief and need to separate the legislative and judicial branches of government. The practice that had developed over years was what you’re seeing from me and our caucus and Thomas right now. When there is an active police investigation, there needs to be some recognition of that with respect to what’s underway.
“I worked for the attorney general in B.C. in the 1990s and that was the standard that was used then and that’s the standard, frankly, that you see in most jurisdictions. It’s really just with the UCP that that water has been muddied.”
Notley said Dang was not home when the RCMP arrived Tuesday morning, but a relative was home. She said she wanted to be as up front with Albertans as possible.
Dang was first elected in 2015 and has represented the south Edmonton ward ever since.
Dang responds to allegations
In a tweet sent out at just after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dang reiterated what Notley said in that his home was searched by RCMP when he was away on personal time.
“I believe this warrant was executed in relation to the vulnerabilities with the COVID-19 vaccination records on the Government of Alberta website,” the tweet stated.
“In September, a concern was raised to me as a Member of the Legislative Assembly about the security of the vaccination record system. I tested these concerns and found that a security flaw did exist.”
Dang said he immediately notified Alberta Health with the information so that the “vulnerability” could be corrected and claims it was resolved shortly thereafter.
He then went on to say he looks forward to a quick resolution on the matter.
RCMP issue news release
Late Tuesday evening, the Alberta RCMP Cybercrime Investigative Team (CIT) sent out a news release stating it searched a home in Edmonton, but remains mum on details.
On Nov. 18, the CIT started its investigation after receiving information regarding “suspicious activity” of unlawful access of private information relating to the vaccination records portal, according to a news release.
RCMP applied for and got a search warrant for an Edmonton house, though no specific details on who the home belonged to were released. That search warrant was completed by officers on Tuesday.
At this time, no charges have been laid, nor have there been any arrests.
Police said this is a “priority investigation” and that it’s quite complex due to a significant amount of forensic digital evidence.
In the news release, RCMP added the investigation will take a considerable amount of time to comb through all the files.
At this time, police said there will be no further information provided.
—With files from Jessika Guse, Global News