Address to the University of Ottawa Law School Graduates

Remarks at the University of Ottawa Spring Convocation

June 9, 2013
Ottawa, Ontario

Address by Jennifer Stoddart
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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It is with deep gratitude that I accept this distinction. This is an enormous honour – one with tremendous personal significance for me.

Throughout my tenure as Privacy Commissioner of Canada, I have been consistently impressed with the work of the faculty, researchers and students at the University of Ottawa.

I would like to highlight the work of the University’s Centre for Law, Technology and Society. With talented and brilliant faculty members like Karen Eltis, Valerie Steeves and Ian Kerr, the Centre is internationally renowned for its ground-breaking research and original insight into policy. Teresa Scassa and Michael Geist, as members of our External Advisory Committee, have made valuable contributions to our Office.

David Fewer and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic have also played a key role in the evolution of privacy in Canada, most notably when they presented our Office with a complaint against Facebook in 2008. That investigation – a milestone for our Office – led us to build capacity within our organization to handle future complaints and address new and emerging issues down the road.

I believe the university’s Faculty of Law does an outstanding job of preparing future lawyers for the challenges of our modern age – one in which lawyers must grasp the role law plays in today’s increasingly computerized and globalized world.

Indeed, my own career in the last decade has been shaped by challenges borne of technology and globalization. And while I could not have imagined many of these challenges when I first embarked on my career in public service, I have found deep satisfaction in that journey.

When I graduated from law school, I could continue to teach history, join a major law firm, or become a federal public servant. Once I had made the decision to join the public service, I told one of my mentors—a partner in a highly regarded law firm – of my decision. His retort: “You may never practice law!”

True enough – lawyers are traditionally found in the courtroom. But I believed that as a public servant, I would still have the chance to practice law my own way.

My choice to join the public service has served me well – and this is why I urge you to follow your own interests and passions, regardless of what others might tell you. You have now built a solid foundation during your time at school; now you have the opportunity to follow your passions, and the energy to transform those passions into a lifetime of fulfillment. I wish you well in your journey.

And once again, Chancellor, I thank you for this exceptional distinction – I am truly honoured.

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