New Privacy Officer Named for Nunavut, NWT


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 NWT

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

The Information and Data Protection Commissioner is an independent officer of the Territorial Legislative Assemblies. The task set out in the territorial legislation is to investigate and examine data protection complaints against public bodies.

The Commissioner is also expected to comment on and make recommendations on government programs or initiatives that impact the right to privacy, and also submit annual reports to the legislature.

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

In a statement, Nunavut spokesman Paul Quassa said Steele's “professional background in law, academia and public service makes him very well qualified for this important position.”

Steele is formally appointed by the Nunavut Commissioner based on the recommendation of the Nunavut Legislature. His term of office is five years, starting January 11, 2021.

Fox has lived in the NWT, the Beaufort Delta region and Yellowknife since the early 1990s. His experience is in criminal and civil litigation as well as Crown prosecutions.

His five-year term takes effect on November 23, 2020. According to a press release from the NWT Legislative Assembly, Fox's first year will focus on ensuring his office can meet the expectations set out in the territory's Access to Information and Privacy Act and Health Information Act.

The NWT legislature also appointed a new executive director of the NWT Human Rights Commission on Friday.

Attorney Nicole MacNeil will assume this position for a four-year term beginning November 16, 2020.