Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart (BCL’80) Delivers Orientation Keynote

September 2013

Jennifer Stoddart (BCL’80), la commissaire à la vie privée du Canada, a prononcé l’allocution principale de la semaine d’orientation, qui portait sur « mon parcours, et comment ce que j’ai appris peut vous aider. »

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart (BCL’80) and LSA President Éloïse Gagné

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart (BCL’80) and LSA President Éloïse Gagné

Speaking to a full house on the second day of Orientation, Jennifer Stoddart (BCL’80) remarked that, from what she saw at last night’s supper, “Orientation is far more exciting now than it was 35 years ago.” There was much appreciative laughter, but the room fell respectfully silent the moment the sitting Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched into her keynote address.

“My path has been somewhat unusual,” she admitted. Stoddart completed a Masters in History and started a doctorate in Paris, but then set it aside to come back to Montreal and study law. “I felt that law offered me the possibility of more action,” she said.

Stoddart decided to join the federal public service because, “as a public servant, I still would have the opportunity to practice law, in my own way.” And this, she continued, “m’apporte une immense satisfaction personnelle.” Indeed, she said, “my chosen career path has allowed me to be a part of many important legal and societal questions.”

As the Privacy Commissioner of Canada for the past decade, Stoddart has had to wrangle with some of the thorniest privacy law issues of our digital times: This summer alone, her office has been busy addressing the Canadian privacy law implications of the A.B. cyberbullying case, the release of wearable computer technology (‘Google Glass’), and Edward Snowden’s revelations on US domestic surveillance. Given the current context, she said, “it will be fascinating for you to be in law school for the next few years.”

And, it seems that Stoddart will be around to keep tabs on the current cohort as they do so. When her current term comes to its end, she said, she will spend her time “relaxing, exercising and volunteering at the Law Faculty, among other things.”

-B.W.

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