Editor’s note: The Alberta RCMP has issued a court summons for Dang on June 24. Read the latest on Dang’s case here.
Independent MLA Thomas Dang has asked to rejoin the NDP caucus after an RCMP investigation into him accessing the government of Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine website.
Dang, the MLA for Edmonton-South, admitted to hacking the government’s COVID-19 vaccination passport verification website late last year.
Dang said he conducted the probe after a constituent warned him of possible loopholes allowing people to access private health information through the vaccine website.
He said when he ran into roadblocks trying to breach the site, he used Premier Jason Kenney’s birth date and date of vaccination — both publicly available — allowing him eventually to breach the site’s privacy safeguards.
Dang said he immediately stopped the search, advised his NDP caucus team, which in turn advised the government of the security breach, and the breach was remedied soon after.
In late December, the NDP said it learned the RCMP had searched Dang’s home. Dang stepped down from the NDP caucus at that time.
In a news release Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for Dang said he is no longer under criminal investigation and will not face criminal charges.
Alberta RCMP spokesperson Fraser Logan could not confirm those details. He could only say that the Alberta RCMP conducted an investigation and referred it to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Services for its opinion. Fraser would not say when that RCMP investigation was completed.
The Alberta Crown Prosecution Services said it has no comment.
Dang said he has learned a lot from the experience and will “absolutely do things differently” in the future if similar concerns or issues are brought to his attention.
“I am excited to put this matter behind me and I am grateful to the RCMP and the crown prosecutor for working quickly to achieve this resolution,” Dang said.
Dang said he sent a letter to NDP caucus chair Joe Ceci requesting permission to rejoin caucus.
“People are dealing with a lot right now. Whether it’s rising costs, persistently high unemployment rates, the crisis in our health-care system or concerns with the UCP curriculum, there is a lot of work to do. I am looking forward to applying my full attention and focus to the priorities of the people of Edmonton South,” said Dang.
In a statement, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she will be reviewing the information submitted by Dang and consulting with her colleagues before making a decision on whether he can return to caucus.
“This new information will also be considered by the party’s executive before they make a decision about whether he will be permitted to seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South,” Notley said.
A spokesperson for Dang said he will face a fine for contravening section 107(2) of the Health Information Act. The fine has not yet been issued and the spokesperson said the amount of the fine has not yet been determined.
The United Conservative Party said the fine proves Dang was in the wrong when he accessed the website.
“There is no indication that the RCMP have ‘cleared’ MLA Dang,” Leduc-Beaumont MLA Brad Rutherford said in a statement.
“The file was referred to the Crown, who responded with a fine over a criminal charge. MLA Dang was in the wrong, hence why he is now being fined under the Health Information Act. A violation of the Health Information Act is extremely serious and cannot be treated lightly.”
Rutherford said he does not believe Dang should be allowed to rejoin the Official Opposition caucus.