I would really like to use the experience I've acquired in the Military Grievances External Review Committee. Initially, this committee received 40% of the grievances, and those were strictly mandatory grievances. We worked very hard to establish the credibility of the committee, and to produce quality reports. We also insisted on the added value of having external independent advice. That is what I would like to bring to the office of the commissioner.
This is why I said that I would like to explore the option of publishing things that go beyond orders; I want to have somewhat of an educational mandate. Let's not forget that the office of the commissioner has been around for 34 years, and offers no glossary or index in which to find the investigations it has conducted and the cases it has processed. As a citizen myself, I have to go through 34 years of annual reports to get an idea of my options if I want to find out whether or not I have the right to ask for something, and whether or not an institution has the right to refuse me access to it. There are some guidelines, but it is very difficult for citizens to do that.
I'll come back to what Mr. Baylis was saying. If the office of the commissioner itself cannot access information, how will it help Canadians understand their rights, and help institutions understand their obligations? This is essential to me.
The commissioner must exhibit neutrality, independence, integrity and consistency. In my opinion, publications are the only way to do so. This way, the institutions would be sure that decisions are made in a consistent manner. Whether it is National Defence, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or the Canada Revenue Agency, the decisions would be applied in the same way across the board.