N.B. information czar search goes online

The New Brunswick government is seeking online submissions for the province's next information and privacy commissioner.

The New Brunswick government is seeking online submissions for the province's first information and privacy commissioner.

Premier Shawn Graham announced Friday that the province would conduct a public search for the access and privacy commissioner, who is to oversee a new independent office of the legislative assembly.

The province is asking that anyone interested in taking on the high-profile position — that pays between $130,000 and $151,000 — submit their names by May 7.

This is a change in strategy for the selection of the information czar. In February, the Executive Council Office had submitted a list of names to the Standing Committee on Legislative Administration, an all-party committee that meets in secret. The committee was going to appoint a new commissioner by mid-April.

The commissioner will watch over the new Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act that is coming into force on May 1.

Until now, Ombudsman Bernard Richard has served as the province's information and privacy commissioner. Richard, who also served as the province's child and youth advocate, had argued during public hearings on the future of the province's information law that a separate office be created.

5-year appointment

When the new information law was passed, the oversight powers were given to a standalone officer of the legislature, similar to the official languages commissioner, ombudsman, auditor general, chief electoral officer or clerk of the legislative assembly.

The successful candidate for the five-year term must still be appointed by the legislative assembly.

"I am confident that, through this process, the members of the legislative assembly will be able to work together to find the best candidate to take on this important post," Graham said in a news release.

Although the government changed the method of seeking candidates for the new information commissioner, it is still not following the process that it used when the last independent officer of the legislature was hired.

When the New Brunswick government hired a new auditor general in November 2005, a national search firm was hired and the short-listed individuals were interviewed by a panel of deputy ministers.