2009-2010 Who we are and what we do

The Information Commissioner is an officer of Parliament appointed by Parliament under the Access to Information Act, Canada’s freedom of information legislation. The Commissioner reviews the complaints of individuals and organizations who believe that federal institutions have not respected their rights under the Act. As an ombudsman, the Commissioner also promotes access to information in Canada.

Canada’s current Interim Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, began her term on June 30, 2009. Prior to this, she was Assistant Commissioner, Policy, Communications and Operations. Earlier in her career, Ms. Legault was Deputy Commissioner, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs, at the Competition Bureau, Legal Counsel with the Department of Justice Canada, as well as a criminal lawyer in private practice and a Crown prosecutor.

The Interim Commissioner is supported in her work by the Office of the Information Commissioner, an independent public body set up in 1983 under the Access to Information Act to respond to complaints from the public about access to government information.

We thoroughly and fairly investigate complaints about federal institutions’ handling of access to information requests. We use mediation and persuasion to resolve them. We bring cases to the Federal Court of Canada when they involve important principles of law or legal interpretation.

We encourage federal institutions to disclose information as a matter of course and to respect Canadians’ rights to request and receive information, in the name of transparency and accountability.

We actively make the case for greater freedom of information in Canada through targeted initiatives such as Right to Know Week, and ongoing dialogue with Canadians, Parliament and federal institutions.

We have 106 full-time employees. It is divided into four main branches:

  • The Complaints Resolution and Compliance Branch carries out investigations and dispute resolution efforts to resolve complaints.

  • The Policy, Communications and Operations Branch assesses federal institutions’ performance under the Act, conducts systemic investigations and analyses, provides strategic policy direction for the office, leads the office’s external relations with the public, the government and Parliament, and provides strategic and corporate leadership in the areas of financial management, internal audit and information management.

  • The Legal Services Branch represents the Commissioner in court cases and provides legal advice on investigations, and legislative and administrative matters.

  • The Human Resources Branch oversees all aspects of human resources management and provides advice to managers and employees on human resources issues.

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