Independence of the Commissioner: for Involvement of the Members of Parliament

This blog follows last week’s in which I explained why an independent Commissioner is essential to avoid any political interference.

As you may already know, the French Language Services Act is a quasi-constitutional statute. This means that this statute takes precedence over all other legislation passed by the Legislative Assembly, apart from other quasi-constitutional statutes such as the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Human Rights Code. Would it not, therefore, be natural for members of the Legislative Assembly to be asked to actively participate in the implementation of the French Language Services Act, a statute that is so important for Ontario?

Indeed, if the Commissioner were to report directly to the Legislative Assembly, it would mean that he would be directly responsible to the members of the Legislature who had chosen him in the first place. MPPs would thus be in a position to ask the Commissioner – and other key players, such as the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs and any other interested parties –, to provide them with explanations.

It has already been 25 years since the members of the Legislative Assembly unanimously voted to adopt the French Language Services Act. Would it not therefore be natural for MPPs to be able to obtain updates on the implementation of this statute directly from the Commissioner?

In addition, having an independent Commissioner who reports directly to members of the Legislature would go a long way to maintaining the interest of public servants and senior officials in complying with the Act. The reason for this is simple: the Commissioner would no longer be “serving” the government but would be serving all members of the Legislative Assembly, and therefore the population of Ontario.

As I mention in my 2011-2012 Annual Report, the Commissioner’s messages would continue to be heard, not only by the government but also by members of the public service who are responsible for implementing the Act on a daily basis.

Next week, I will go over the reasons why the independence of the Commissioner is essential from a juridical point of view.

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