Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Brunswick names first privacy commissioner

The government of New Brunswick has named Fredericton lawyer Anne Bertrand to become the province's first access to information and privacy commissioner. She will be responsible for oversight of the province's new health privacy law.

CBC News - New Brunswick - Fredericton lawyer named information czar

Last Updated: Thursday, July 15, 2010 | 7:39 PM AT

CBC News

Premier Shawn Graham has tapped Fredericton lawyer Anne Bertrand to become the province's first access to information and privacy commissioner.

Bertrand will start Sept. 1, when the independent office is officially created. Graham said Bertrand's legal experience will help her establish the office.

"I am confident that the breadth of her experience in the field of law, along with her work in the community and strong values of justice and integrity, will serve New Brunswickers well as she fulfils the commissioner's responsibilities," he said in a news release.

Until now, access to information and privacy issues have been the responsibility of Bernard Richard, the provincial ombudsman and child and youth advocate.

Bertrand's appointment must be confirmed by the legislature after the Sept. 27 election. But Opposition Leader David Alward has indicated his party will support a motion.

"The position is important," Alward told CBC News. "There was a fair, competitive process. I feel confident with that."

Alward said he isn't concerned Bertrand once tried to become a Liberal candidate.

"I feel very comfortable that there was a fair evaluation," he said.

The appointment is for five years.

Failed Liberal candidate

Bertrand has been a lawyer in private practice for 24 years. She has also been active in the arts community and serves as the chair of the New Brunswick Foundation for the Arts.

Bertrand tried to enter provincial politics in 2006 but lost the Liberal nomination in the riding of Fredericton-Silverwood to Rick Miles, who is now the environment minister.

She has also dabbled in federal politics. In 2006, she served as the provincial campaign co-chair to former Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy, when he ran for the federal Liberal leadership.

New legislation

The information and privacy commissioner will be responsible for overseeing two new pieces of legislation governing access to information and health information privacy.

Bertrand will be responsible for hearing any public complaints related to the legislation and for advocating for information and privacy issues.

1 comment:

Duncan said...

Hi David,

I'm a law student who has done some work in privacy related matters (in particular with regards to the Alberta PIPA). First of all, sorry to be extremely off topic (congrats to NB!) But, Warren Kinsella, who I don't know if you're familiar with but is a lawyer of some repute (although not for being a lawyer), has recently suggested that if a "privacy law challenge" was brought to bear against the government regarding the mandatory long form census, it would be found to be "problematic". He didn't really clarify, but this seems spurious to me for a number of reasons. Then again, I'm not terribly familiar with the federal privacy laws.

I'd assume that the census would be an exception to any limitations requiring consent for "collection" of personal information (although the "use" and "disclosure" provisions of the Privacy Act would I assume apply), and any "privacy law challenge" would have to be constitutional (under s.8, I guess), which again, I can't imagine the courts being sympathetic to.

Anyway, if you get a chance, could you do a post regarding the legal privacy regime as it might be relevant to the mandatory long form census? What statutes apply, might there be any constitutional issues, etc.?