Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI)

The ETHI committee met twice this week. The first meeting was dedicated to the committee’s study on the Statutory Review of the Conflict of Interest Act and the second resumed its study on privacy and social media and was held in camera.

During Monday’s meeting, members heard testimony from two witnesses, Guy Giorno, Executive Member of the Canadian Bar Association, and Yves Boisvert, Professor at the École nationale d’administration publique. The testimony focused on the possible introduction of monetary penalties for breaches of the Act, which both witnesses recommended, and raised concerns about legislative clarity, specifically in regards to objectives, definitions of ‘personal interest’ and ‘gifts,’ and post-employment obligations. Attention was drawn to the need for transparency and accountability in the use of the Act, and the fact that the rule of law is the basis for the legislation, something public office holders are not above. Like previous witnesses, the speakers pointed to enforceability as a key weakness of the current legislation.

During the last thirty minutes of the February 25th meeting a motion was introduced by Charmaine Borg, proposing that the committee study ways to enhance the Privacy Commissioner’s ability to deal with data breaches. This led to a vote, supported uniquely by Conservative members, which moved the meeting in-camera. It is possible that the Conservatives voted down the motion.

During the February 27th in camera meeting, the committee agreed to study undertake a study of the Main Estimates. The Minutes can be found here.