The position of B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner is at risk of becoming vacant on Monday (April 12). At that time, Paul Fraser will have held the role of acting commissioner for 20 sitting days of the legislature, the amount of time that the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows a person to hold the temporary office.
Fraser was appointed on January 25, after long-time commissioner David Loukidelis resigned from office on January 19 in order to assume the role of B.C. deputy attorney general.
Shortly after Loukidelis’s resignation, Mary Carlson, executive director of the office of the information and privacy commissioner, sent a letter to Speaker Bill Barisoff that described the need to appoint an acting commissioner as “extremely urgent”.
“The operations of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (“Office”) are”¦at present frozen and the Office is unable to discharge its statutory obligations”, that memo read.
Craig James, the legislature’s clerk of committees, told the Straight that if a permanent appointment is not made on April 12, the house can pass a motion reappointing Fraser or extending his time as acting commissioner.
“That is in the hands of the government house leader and the attorney general,” James said.
The office of Michael de Jong, B.C. attorney general, did not respond to an interview request by deadline.
Darrell Evans, executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, emphasized that without a commissioner, the OIPC would be unable to continue its work.
Looking ahead, Evans said that he hopes the position of permanent commissioner is filled by an individual with a sound legal mind.
“We want someone who is basically fearless,” he continued. “Who is not subservient to authority.”
Though Evans was hesitant to nominate anyone—“I’m afraid that if we recommended someone, the government would not appoint them,” he said—he suggested that Carlson would make a “fantastic” commissioner.
An abbreviated version of this story appeared in print on April 8, 2010.
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