Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. looking for new privacy watchdog as Donovan Molloy takes judge job

The information and privacy commissioner protects the public's right to know and right to privacy. Who will take over?

House Speaker says committee will appoint interim commissioner

N.L.'s privacy commissioner Donovan Molloy has accepted a new job as a territorial judge in N.W.T. (CBC)

The search is on for a new information and privacy commissioner in Newfoundland and Labrador after Donovan Molloy takes the bench in the Northwest Territories.

Molloy, who was named commissioner in 2016, will become a territorial judge on Feb. 20, according to a release issued by the territory's justice minister.

"Donovan Molloy has done a great job in this role and while I'm sad to see him go, I've come to know him well enough to know how excited he is about the opportunity in the Northwest Territories, so we can only wish him the best," said Perry Trimper, N.L.'s house speaker.

Trimper is responsible for convening the committee that will find Molloy's replacement — something he said will not be easy.

"It's a position that demands a high skill set and a lot of particularly interesting skills. One of a sort of calm diplomacy but also an ability to navigate your way through the various times the commissioner is called to investigate something."

High profile

The information and privacy commissioner is an independent officer of the House of Assembly. Molloy reviews cases and issues reports to the legislature, but his office is arms-length from, and sometimes critical of, government.

While the commissioner handles concerns over privacy, he also reviews access to information, which ensures the public's right to know is protected.

Over the years, Molloy rebuked the justice department for its handling of an access to information request and scolded the province for breaking its own information laws.

Molloy has also reviewed high-profile privacy concerns, including the town of Paradise's use of security cameras as well as the widespread sharing of videos appearing to show shoplifters.

Speaker of the House Perry Trimper says Molloy leaves big shoes to fill. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Trimper said the committee will first find an acting commissioner. He wouldn't say how long it might take to find a permanent hire.

"We will be starting immediately to put someone in there. So we've got some ideas but I'll let the process unfold," he said.

"We'll be at that on Monday morning."

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