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Membership data breached and used for fundraising campaign?

The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has released a statement today on their Facebook page acknowledging that an 'outside organization' has allegedly contacted persons that are on the CPC membership list.

To explain this story we have to back up about a week. People have been posting to social media that they have been getting membership application forms and donation requests from the National Firearms Association (NFA), a Canadian Firearms Rights organization. While this in and of itself is not out of the ordinary for past and present members that have willingly given their information to the NFA, many of these reports come from people that claim to have never been a member with the organization or that they have moved from their previous address without updating their information with the NFA.

This has lead to a number of people questioning where the information came from, and many coming to the conclusion that the information could have only been obtained through a CPC membership list. After complaints were filed with the CPC, the CPC released the following statement today;We are aware that our members are being contacted by an outside organization. The Conservative Party has not – and will never – release our members’ personal information to anyone. We will be issuing a Cease & Desist letter to the organization in question, demanding that they destroy the list. We have also identified the parties responsible for sharing the information, and will be taking disciplinary action against them. We regret that this incident has occurred. We have always taken our members’ privacy very seriously, and will continue to do so.

Statement released by the CPC on Facebook.
Statement released by the CPC on Facebook.

While this statement appears to attempt to cover the CPC's bases, it does raise a question that has a very simple conclusion. If the CPC "has not – and will never" released any personal information about their members, how could it simultaneously issue a cease and desist letter and take disciplinary action?

Of course the answer is that the CPC Party itself didn't release the information, it would appear that individuals inside of or working with the Party obtained and released the information. This political doublespeak of "wasn't us" but "we're issuing a cease and desist and punishing the parties" isn't helping the issue right now, and in fact comes off as incredibly dismissive and as an attempt to not take blame for actions of people working for or with the Party who could in fact be members of the party themselves. The simple fact is that if the information wasn't obtained from the CPC in some way they would have no legal means in order to issue a cease and desist nor would they have any reason to take disciplinary action against "parties responsible".

We do try to be as impartial and non-partisan as possible in our publications, but this exact behaviour outlines why firearms owners distrust lists and regard their private information as highly valuable. With the CPC and the NFA claiming to be champions of privacy and on the side of firearms owners, this is the exact alleged behaviour that they claim to be outraged by. If this were done by any other Party or Firearms Organization they would be outraged and would be making demands of resignation of the "parties responsible". It is in our opinion that at this moment the CPC and the NFA should publicly name all parties responsible and take action against the individuals, including demanding resignations from the Party and Organization, in order to save the integrity of both the Party and the Firearms Organization.

The damage is done. The trust is breached. This behaviour is reprehensible and incredibly disrespectful to the CPC member base. In the day and age of electronic sharing there's no way to undo what is done, and no way to get the information back out of the hands of people and organizations that it doesn't belong to. Now what exactly are the Party and Firearms Organization going to do about the alleged accusations?