New privacy commissioners named for Nunavut, N.W.T.

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The legislatures of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have named their next information and privacy commissioners — former Nova Scotia cabinet minister Graham Steele in Nunavut, and lawyer Andrew Fox in the N.W.T.

The two will replace Elaine Keenan Bengts, who retired this year as information and privacy commissioner for both territories. She'd held the position for two decades.

The information and privacy commissioner is an independent officer of the territories' legislative assemblies. The role, as detailed in territorial legislation, investigates and reviews privacy complaints against public bodies.

The commissioner is also expected to comment on and make recommendations about government programs or initiatives that have implications for privacy rights, and also submit annual reports to the legislature.

Steele was Nova Scotia's finance minister from 2009 to 2012, in Premier Darrell Dexter's NDP government. Steele has also taught at Dalhousie University's Rowe School of Business, and worked with the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia, and been a law clerk at the Federal Court of Appeal.

In a statement, Nunavut Speaker Paul Quassa said Steele's "professional background in law, academia and public service make him very well-qualified for this important position."

Steele will be officially appointed by the commissioner of Nunavut, based on the recommendation from the Nunavut Legislature. He'll serve a five-year term, effective Jan. 11, 2021.

Fox has lived in the N.W.T. since the early '90s, in the Beaufort Delta region and Yellowknife. His experience is in criminal and civil litigation, and Crown prosecution.

His five-year term is effective as of Nov. 23, 2020. According to a news release from the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly, Fox's first year will see him focused on ensuring that his office can meet the expectations outlined in the territory's Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Health Information Act.

The N.W.T. Legislature also appointed a new executive director of the N.W.T. Human Rights Commission on Friday.

Lawyer Nicole MacNeil will take over in that role beginning Nov. 16, 2020, for a four-year term.