Privacy commissioner rejects minister's claim of support
Anne Bertrand had no meaningful consultation with government on new law dealing with personal info
New Brunswick's privacy commissioner is correcting comments by a provincial cabinet minister about a new law governing personal information.
Anne Bertrand says she did not give the government any input or support for the legislation.
The legislation, which passed third reading this week, will make it easier for some government departments to share personal information about New Brunswick with other government departments.
During debate on the bill, Education Minister Marie-Claude Blais told Opposition MLAs the privacy commissioner agrees in principle with the legislation, and supports it.
Blais invited the Liberals to check with privacy commissioner Anne Bertrand themselves.
The Liberals did, and now Bertrand has written to Speaker Dale Graham, the minister and the Opposition, saying she was surprised by Blais's comments.
"With respect, I was surprised to hear the minister's comments to this effect, as her comments do not accurately reflect the nature of the discussions that took place between our office and department officials on this matter," Bertrand states in her letter.
Bertrand goes on to say she met twice with department officials in October, but only for a general discussion.
She says the department gave her no documentation so it wasn't a meaningful consultation.
"Our concern in this case is that the minister has given the impression that meetings held with our office constituted a meaningful consultation in which the commissioner indicated her approval and support for Bill 23 that we understand has passed third reading in the Legislative Assembly, which is not the case," her letter states.
"Bill 23 only came to our knowledge on December 3, 2013, the same day it was introduced in the Assembly. The department did not request our input on Bill 23 itself and therefore, neither I nor my office was given the opportunity to provide comments or to provide any form of support for the proposed legislation."
Blais's office said Thursday the minister is not available to comment.