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Remarks at the PICCASO Canada Privacy Awards Gala 

June 11, 2024
Toronto, Ontario

Address by Philippe Dufresne
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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Thank you for inviting me to speak at this inaugural gala event, to celebrate the efforts of organizations and individuals and their leadership in privacy innovation. 

I am delighted to be with you tonight. 

I salute PICCASO Canada for bringing these awards here and for creating this opportunity to showcase and honour the work that is being done to protect and promote the fundamental right to privacy. 

I was pleased to see such a broad range of private- and public-sector privacy leaders and projects from across the country represented in the 15 categories on the shortlist. I also want to recognize the outstanding selection committee.

I was also thrilled to see the recognition of Indigenous leadership in data privacy innovation and compliance, which is so important.

As Privacy Commissioner of Canada, I welcome the fact that a growing number of industries and organizations are recognizing that there is strategic value to privacy protection, particularly in this technology-driven age.  

Awards like this also emphasize the importance of encouraging and recognizing best privacy practices. They are a signal of the value and impact of this work, and of taking the initiative to prioritize privacy.  

One of the key goals of the PICCASO awards is to “show what good looks like.”  

In my two years as Privacy Commissioner I have also given a great deal of thought to what I think that is. The three pillars of my vision for privacy are: 

  1. Privacy as a fundamental right; 
  2. Privacy in support of the public interest and Canada’s innovation and competitiveness; and  
  3. Privacy as an accelerator of Canadians’ trust in their institutions and their participation as digital citizens. 

These pillars reflect the reality that Canadians want to be active and informed digital citizens, and should not have to choose between this participation and their fundamental right to privacy. 

We know that privacy matters to Canadians. They want and need to trust that their privacy is being protected so that they can feel confident about participating freely in the digital economy.  

All of you here tonight play a key role in creating a culture of privacy within your organizations, and also of raising the bar for promoting privacy protection across many different domains.  

What is a culture of privacy? The starting point is using privacy by design, or privacy by default to weave privacy considerations into the fabric of what you do. 

Just as developers consider the different impacts and needs of individuals – like this building where the individual experience is a key part of its overall design – promoting privacy practices serves individuals’ best interests and protects their fundamental rights.  

While complying with privacy law is a requirement for organizations, prioritizing privacy has many additional benefits – it helps Canadians to have trust in your organization. This trust is good for clients, which is good for government and industry. And this lights the way for others to follow. 

By fostering a culture of privacy, encouraging the use of privacy-by-design principles, and establishing privacy standards, we can promote innovation while also leveraging innovation to protect the fundamental right to privacy. 

As Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, I am committed to strong advocacy, education, promotion, and enforcement. But collaboration is also essential. Privacy protection is one of the paramount challenges of our time; a collective challenge that needs a collective response.  

I am encouraged by knowing that there is such dedicated, creative and innovative work happening in a variety of sectors, industries, and organizations across the country, working together to advance this important discussion. 

It is my hope for these awards that they will shine a spotlight on the work that so many of you are already doing to promote and protect privacy.  

I encourage you to spread the word about the importance of protecting this fundamental right.  

And I hope that some of the achievements that are celebrated tonight will inspire others. Together we can create a future where we support and benefit from innovation. 

Thank you again to PICCASO for inviting me to this event tonight.  

I congratulate not only the winners, but all those who were nominated for the work that you have done, and will continue to do, to protect the fundamental right to privacy.  

Thank you! 

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