– Ann Barrow, Paralegal Student, Centennial College
“Is the Fox Guarding the Hen House?”
- Stephen Harper nominated Daniel Therrien, current Assistant Deputy Solicitor General, for the position of privacy watchdog.
- Not merely a political issue– its impact on privacy issues is paramount.
- As the author of the article states: “Therrien is the Justice Department’s point man on matters of national defense, public safety and immigration law.”
- As such, he has the experience required to protect Canadian citizen’s personal identity issues. Whether or not this will happen is at issue.
- Michael Geist believes that “the jury is still out,” but what is clear is that the Harper government is “sending a message.”
- Exactly to whom this message is directed is not stated.
- Therrien’s experience with negotiating cross-border information sharing with the United States is considered suspect by some.
- Jennifer Stoddart, the previous privacy commissioner, raised issues over the content of the cooperative sharing of information with the States.
Citizen’s Privacy Protected?:
- The Privacy Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. P-21., addresses issues of the collection and retention of personal information.
- How Therrien maintains the right of citizens to access and control their information collected by the government is in question.
- Boutilier maintains that the “opposition parties have already signaled that they do not approve of Therrien’s appointment,” citing his lack of “neutrality” and “detachment” given his previous positions and political career.
- Thomas Mulcair, NDP Leader, wrote to Harper on May 23 to protest the appointment: “As the main person in charge of protecting Canadians’ privacy, the commissioner is responsible for auditing the policies and practices enacted by the government.”
- Mulcair also notes that Therrien developed government initiatives on public safety that were criticized for “their failure to protect our fundamental rights.”
- In the current political climate, both domestic and foreign, it will be interesting to see how this appointment, if passed, will bode for the Canadian public.
“Harper nominates next privacy watchdog” by Alex Boutilier, Toronto Star, May 29, 2014, s. A3.