PC candidate resigns after 407 data theft
TORONTO • An employee of Ontario’s 407 private freeway quit suddenly Wednesday as a Progressive Conservative candidate in next month’s election, barely an hour after the highway confirmed that information on 60,000 customers had been leaked through an “internal theft.”
Simmer Sandhu, the candidate for Brampton East, said in an online statement that he had recently been made aware of anonymous allega- tions against him “pertaining to both my work life and my nomination campaign.”
“These allegations are totally baseless. I absolutely deny them,” he said on both Twitter and Facebook. “I will vigorously defend myself and reputation and I am confident I will be cleared.”
But he said it would be impossible to continue as a candidate while doing so and that the election is too important “to get caught up in the issues surrounding any one person.”
A cached version of his election website says Sandhu has worked at 407 ETR the last nine years, most recently as a litigation analyst.
“Simmer Sandhu provided his resignation to the party and the party accepted it. We will announce a candidate in short order,” Melissa Lantsman, a spokeswoman for PC Leader Doug Ford, said Wednesday night.
The 407’s operator said earlier Wednesday it is notifying 60,000 customers that information was divulged through an “internal theft” of names, addresses and phone numbers.
Local police and federal and provincial privacy agencies have also been notified, said Kevin Sack, a spokesman for the 407 ETR Concession Co. Sack said he could not speculate on how the information might have been used. The data did not include financial information such as credit cards or personal details like car licence numbers and customers’ trip history on the highway, Sack stressed in a statement. And he said there does not appear to have been any external attack of the computer system.
The risk of the information being used for identity theft or other financial harm is slim, but the 407 owners will offer free credit monitoring and identitytheft protection for a year to affected customers, they said.
National Post has seen what appears to be some of the purloined information, which suggests it was at one point in the hands of a company called D-Media. The name appears in the properties of the Excel file under the heading “last saved by.”
D-Media is linked to Snover Dhillon, an organizer who helped several would-be PC candidates recruit members to win nominations.
Dhillon, an associate of former leader Patrick Brown, said Wednesday he knew nothing about the 407 data theft.
Asked if he or his firm might have used the information, Dhillon said he didn’t remember.
“When we do the campaigns, in the nominations, sometimes people, candidates, give the data, but I don’t know where it came from,” he said.
“We don’t know where they got it from.”