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Ottawa, November 21, 2001-The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, George Radwanski, today sent the following letter to the Hon. Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice:
Dear Minister McLellan:
I am writing to express appreciation, on behalf of the privacy rights of all Canadians, for the amendments you have introduced to the sections of Bill C-36 dealing with the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
These amendments fully and effectively address the concerns I have been expressing over the past four weeks.
They do this by ensuring that the provisions in question will now be limited to their original stated purpose: to permit the issuance of certificates to ensure that a Federal Court judge cannot on review compel the disclosure to an individual of personal information which should be exempted from such access for reasons of security, defence or international relations. As previously drafted, these provisions were so broad that they would have left the effective existence of the Privacy Act and the PIPED Act up to ministerial discretion.
Under the amendments you introduced yesterday, this is no longer the case. All existing privacy rights of Canadians remain fully safeguarded, the oversight role of the Privacy Commissioner remains intact, and even the issuance of certificates is closely circumscribed and subject to judicial review.
You and your Deputy Minister, Mr. Morris Rosenberg, are to be commended for having recognized the importance of the privacy concerns expressed, and for having addressed them so comprehensively. I am certain you will appreciate that until I had clear evidence that these concerns would indeed be addressed-which was not the case until the amendments were introduced yesterday-it was my duty to continue pressing them with all the vigour at my disposal.
Your action is a great victory for the privacy rights of all Canadians. You have reaffirmed on behalf of the Government of Canada that privacy is a fundamental human right that, even in times of gravest crisis, must always benefit from the maximum protection possible.
I am confident that this development will stand as a milestone in the evolution of privacy rights in Canada, and I thank you for your role in having made it possible.
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel.: (613) 995-0103
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