FIPA is hiring a new Executive Director!

The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association is looking for a new Executive Director.

Our current Executive Director, Sara Neuert, will be leaving FIPA at the end of October, and FIPA is looking for a passionate, knowledgeable leader who is looking to make a difference in the world of information and privacy rights.

The organization

The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BC FIPA) is a non-partisan, non-profit society that was established a quarter century ago to promote and defend freedom of information and privacy rights in Canada. Our goal is to empower citizens by increasing their access to information and their control over their own personal information.  We serve a wide variety of individuals and organizations through programs of public education, public assistance, research, and law reform advocacy.

The position

The Executive Director reports to and advises the FIPA Board of Directors, and currently oversees one full-time staff, occasional part-time staff, volunteers, and contractors.  This position is accountable for the leadership of the organization, and for the communication and expansion of the organization’s messages and values.

Primary responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Governance and leadership

  • Work with the Board to ensure the Association’s vision, mission, and strategic priorities remain current;
  • Work collaboratively with partner organizations at local, provincial and national levels;
  • Support the Board by organizing and attending meetings, and advising the Board on all relevant issues.

Research, client assistance, and law reform

  • Plan, coordinate and supervise public interest advocacy campaigns, and special events;
  • Provide direct assistance to FIPA clients on issues related to information and privacy rights;
  • Propose, plan, and manage special projects, including law reform initiatives, that contribute to the Association’s goals;
  • Conduct research on topics related to the Association’s mandate, and direct staff and contract researchers.

Operational planning, management, and reporting

  • Conduct organizational and strategic planning in conjunction with the Board of Directors;
  • Ensure legal requirements under the Societies Act are fulfilled;
  • Direct FIPA day-to-day operations in conjunction with the Program Director;
  • Supervise all financial operations;
  • Prepare annual and ad hoc reports for FIPA’s major funders.

Human resources planning

  • Recruit and direct staff, volunteers, and contractors, including pro bono lawyers;
  • Determine staff requirements.

Fundraising

  • Responsible for the overall diversification of funding and resource development;
  • Oversee all fundraising activities, including grant application, donation and membership drives, and special events;
  • Ensure grant proposals, applications, and reports are completed and submitted on time.

Communications, stakeholder and member relations

  • Coordinate and conduct communications and relations with government, media, other stakeholders, and community groups;
  • Act as the main spokesperson for the Association, including by responding to media requests for comment and by preparing written material that presents the position of the Association;
  • Seek out and build collaborative initiatives and relationships with stakeholder organizations;
  • Supervise preparation of promotional and information materials;
  • Attend stakeholder events, representing the Association’s interests and priorities;
  • Supervise all FIPA communications content, including web and social media, a quarterly bulletin, press releases, and other publications.

The candidate

The successful candidate will not only have the expertise and experience to manage and expand a non-profit group dedicated to civil liberties issues, but will also have the entrepreneurial bent and the positive, enthusiastic attitude necessary to help FIPA grow.

Qualifications

You are an excellent leader who can organize and supervise a team, work with a board of directors, Association members, and partners, build and contribute to coalitions of allies, and communicate with a range of audiences and stakeholders.  You are a creative and critical thinker who can follow through on a strategic plan while responding to emerging issues.  You are keenly interested in information and privacy rights, and you are familiar with current issues in these fields. You understand how these issues connect to broader debates about civil liberties, human rights, and democratic institutions.  You possess a strong working understanding of the laws and policies that govern privacy rights and freedom of information, especially in BC, and you have experience using the law strategically, either as a lawyer or with substantial experience working with the tools of the Canadian legal system.

You will possess:

  • Demonstrated successful management experience in the non-profit sector, including experience in fundraising
  • A proven track record in communications and advocacy in the non-profit sector
  • Excellent analytical, problem-solving, and organizational abilities
  • Experience and competence in research and writing
  • Professional capability with computers and electronic communications
  • A law degree and / or a graduate degree in social sciences, communications, or another relevant discipline.

Working conditions

This is a full-time position based out of our office in Vancouver, B.C. Some travel required, possibly to Ottawa and/or Victoria.

BC FIPA is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women, Indigenous people, people of colour, and LGBTQIA and individuals from other diverse communities to apply.

Information and instructions for applicants

Individuals interested in this opportunity are asked to submit an e-mail outlining their interest in the position, with two attached files consisting separately of a cover letter and resume.  Please include your name and the phrase “Application for Executive Director” in the subject line of the e-mail and send to BC FIPA at search@fipa.bc.ca.

No phone calls please.  For questions about the position, please email FIPA President, Mike Larsen, at mike@fipa.bc.ca

All attached files must be in PDF format only; other formats will not be accepted or considered.  Files must not be locked or password protected, nor should they contain any hyperlinks.  We will not consider any materials which require us to use a hyperlink to access.

Please note that only short-listed applicants will be contacted.

Application Submission and Candidate Selection Timelines

BC FIPA is striving to have the Executive Director position filled by mid- to late October.  The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is hired.  Interested parties are strongly encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible.

Additional Information Regarding Candidate Selection

Short-listed applicants should be prepared to participate in further interviews with members of the Selection Committee, either in person or via teleconference.  Short-listed applicants should also be prepared to provide additional materials to the selection committee such as:

  • A sample of communications based on scenarios specified by the Selection Committee
  • An example of communications work with respect to policy or advocacy in previous positions
  • Names and contact details of at least three qualified professional references

Transparency, Privacy, and the Federal Election

It is election season, and the leaders of Canada’s political parties are making promises, presenting platforms, and answering questions about plans and policies.

The next Government of Canada will have to take positions on transparency reform, privacy in a digital age, democracy and Big Data, and the regulation of increasingly-intrusive surveillance practices.

We want to make sure that the information and privacy rights are part of the public conversation during the election period, and we want your help!

Send us an email at fipa@fipa.bc.ca and share the information and privacy policy questions that you would like to see answered by the federal political parties.

We will be compiling an Election Questionnaire, just as we did during BC’s last provincial election, and sending it to the major parties.

The election is on the horizon, so we hope to hear from you soon!

Commissioner’s Order protects privacy while promoting democratic values

Vancouver, August 30, 2019 – Yesterday, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC, Michael McEvoy, issued an Order stating that BC’s privacy laws apply to the electoral district associations of federal political parties, despite their contestations.

The Order affirms that all organizations in BC, including those created by federal political parties, must be held to the same standard when it comes to the protection of privacy. Under BC’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), individuals have the right to know what personal information is in the possession of an organization, how this information is used, how it has been acquired, and where it has been shared.

Until yesterday’s Order, federal political parties operated as if they were not subject to any privacy laws that grant people these vital information rights, which in turn negatively affects both privacy and Canada’s democratic values. Electoral politics are increasingly shaped by big data. The Cambridge Analytica scandal gave the public a glimpse into how data collection, database development, and micro-targeting have become key components in political parties’ electoral toolkits.

“It is our position that the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by political parties at any level should be subject to strong and enforceable privacy legislation,” says Mike Larsen, FIPA President. “People should have a right to know how political parties are using their personal information, and collection and use should be based on the principle of informed consent.”

FIPA was issued a notice of hearing in this case and made a submission that challenged the argument that the application of PIPA to a federal electoral district association would infringe on the Charter of Rights Freedoms, which Commissioner McEvoy has agreed with. In the next phase of this process, the Commissioner will consider whether the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by the electoral district association complies with PIPA.

Contact:

Mike Larsen, President

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Email: fipa (at) fipa.bc.ca

Phone: 604-739-9788

New on the Podcast: Information Laundering

As we learned in the first episode of Data Subjects, BC’s Freedom of Information laws were created in order to ensure that public records belong to the public, which is a fundamental principle to our democracy.

Citizens in a democratic nation must have a right of access to information about their government in order to make informed choices. But prior to 1992, we didn’t have these rights in BC. And now, we’re at risk of losing them again due to something called information laundering.

This episode is about a loophole in BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that allows public bodies to create subsidiary companies that are not subject to BC’s Freedom of Information laws.

First, we learn about how BC Ferries and BC Hydro used subsidiary companies with disastrous consequences in the 1990s during the ‘Fast Ferries’ and ‘Hydrogate’ scandals. Then, we hear from Larry Kuehn, of the BC Teachers’ Federation, and find out how BC school boards have misused subsidiary companies.

And finally, we hear from Stanley Tromp, independent journalist, and learn about his experience requesting information about one of UBC’s subsidiary companies, the UBC Properties Trust, and its consequences for health and safety on campus.

If you’d like to see information laundering as a thing of the past, please sign our petition and encourage the BC government to keep their campaign promise of protecting information and privacy rights in BC.