Nova Scotia

Premier's pledge to hike privacy commissioner's power pushed to next year

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says he remains committed to giving order-making power to the province's information and privacy commissioner, but it won't happen during the fall sitting at Province House.

Tim Houston says he hopes to be able to make the change in the spring

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says he remains committed to giving order-making power to the province's information and privacy commissioner, but the change isn't ready yet. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says he remains committed to giving order-making power to the province's information and privacy commissioner, but it won't happen during the fall sitting at Province House.

Prior to being sworn in as premier, Houston committed to giving order-making power to the commissioner, something no previous government has been willing to do. Without the designation, the government is not compelled to follow recommendations from the office.

On Wednesday , Houston told reporters he still plans to make the change but his government's focus so far has been on health care, housing, the environment and fixed election dates.

"We're committed to it, there's no question about that," he said. "It wasn't a conscious decision to delay that."

Opposition leaders give mixed reviews

Houston said he's aiming to have the legislation ready in time for the spring sitting.

"I just haven't focused on it, to be honest, and maybe that's my fault."

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin said he's willing to give Houston the benefit of the doubt on the delay, noting his own party promised during the election to review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and that work would have taken time, too.

"If we were re-elected we probably wouldn't have had an act ready for this session, so I think we do need to give the new government some time."

NDP Leader Gary Burrill was less charitable.

"I don't think it's a matter of something that should be gotten around to. When you give your word and say that it's a matter of priority for you and if you have a chance to be premier you're going to do it, you should step up when you get the chance and do it."

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