2017-2018 Advising Parliament

Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and make consequential amendments to other Acts

On June 19, 2017, the government tabled Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.Footnote 1 This bill contains the government’s first phase of reforms to revitalize the Access to Information Act.

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI) began its study of Bill C-58 on October 18, 2017. 

Former Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault appeared before ETHI on November 1, 2017 to discuss her concerns with Bill C-58.Footnote 2 During this appearance, she proposed several recommendations to improve Bill C-58, as outlined in her special report, Failing to Strike the Right Balance for Transparency.Footnote 3

ETHI tabled a report to Parliament proposing several amendments to Bill C-58.Footnote 4 The House of Commons supported ETHI’s amendments, and Bill C-58 passed Third Reading as amended in the House on December 6, 2017.

Bill C-58 was introduced in the Senate on December 7, 2017 and was at Second Reading as of March 31, 2018.

Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard’s Views on Bill C-58

Commissioner Maynard has studied Bill C-58. During her nomination appearances, she raised concerns with some aspects of the bill that might limit or delay access. She also noted that there are some encouraging aspects to the bill.Footnote 5

Should the opportunity arise, she will be ready to appear before the Senate committee tasked with studying Bill C-58 to elaborate her views.

Main and Supplementary Estimates

Commissioner Legault appeared before ETHI to discuss the Main Estimates 2017–2018 on May 4, 2017.Footnote 6 Layla Michaud, Deputy Commissioner of Investigations and Governance, appeared before ETHI on the Supplementary Estimates (B) 2017–2018 on November 29, 2017.Footnote 7  

Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms

Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, was introduced in the House of Commons on March 20, 2018. Bill C-71 is significant to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) because it contains provisions that repeal retrospective amendments to the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act (ELRA), amongst other relevant provisions. The OIC is currently involved in litigation related to the constitutionality of the retrospective elements of the ELRA.Footnote 8

Bill C-71 passed second reading in the House of Commons on March 28, 2018 and was referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts  

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Footnote 2

ETHI Meeting, November 2017

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Footnote 3

Failing to Strike the Right Balance for Transparency, September 2017

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Footnote 4

ETHI Study Bill C-58,

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Footnote 5

Senate, Caroline Maynard received in the Committee of the Whole, February 26, 2018, ; ETHI Committee Meeting, Evidence, February 27, 2018

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Footnote 6

Remarks from the Information Commissioner of Canada, Main Estimates, May 2017

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Footnote 7

ETHI Committee Meeting, Evidence, November 2017

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Footnote 8

Information Commissioner of Canada and Bill Clennett v. Attorney General of Canada, (OSCJ-15-64739) and Information Commissioner of Canada v. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, (T-785-15). This litigation is currently suspended while negotiations between the parties are ongoing.

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