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Privy Council Office changes vetting process after human rights chief appointment

Last Updated Jul 10, 2024 at 10:27 am MDT

The administrative wing of the Prime Minister's Office says it has issued new direction in terms of how federal appointees are screened following concerns officials failed to search posts made by the incoming human rights chief. Justice Minister Arif Virani speaks in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, May 6, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

OTTAWA — The administrative wing of the Prime Minister’s Office says it has new procedures for vetting federal appointees following concerns it failed to search online posts made by the incoming head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Birju Dattani was appointed chief commissioner in June and is to take up the role in August.

After his appointment was announced Jewish organizations raised concerns about the screening process and posts he had made about Israel while he was attending graduate school under a different name almost a decade ago.

Following those concerns Justice Minister Arif Vriani’s office announced it will do an independent investigation of Dattani’s “potentially troubling” statements before he starts the new position.

A spokesman for the Privy Council Office, which is responsible for vetting appointments, now says there was an “administrative oversight” during the vetting process before Dattani’s appointment.

Daniel Savoie says Dattani’s other name was not searched or given to the security agencies also involved in background checks.

Savoie says the RCMP and CSIS are “now completing the necessary reviews” adding that direction has been given so all aliases are more thoroughly reviewed in the future.

Dattani has previously called the allegations against him unfounded and said he stands by his record working in human rights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

The Canadian Press