Wayne main

A lifetime of commitment to information rights

IAPP program creator receives CAPA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nov 25, 2019 in News

He envisioned and developed Canada’s first post-secondary access and privacy program—Extension’s very own IAPP certificate—and went on to create the leading national conference in the field. Meanwhile, his expertise was commissioned to make recommendations for improvement to Canada’s Access to Information Act, as well as to help establish the standards and competencies for the (then new) Information Rights Administration profession.

For these accomplishments, and “his outstanding contribution as a post-secondary educator within the field of access and privacy administration,” Wayne MacDonald is being presented today with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Access and Privacy Association (CAPA), during the association’s annual national conference in Ottawa.

“This award recognizes the important work and leadership that Wayne has provided to our profession throughout his career,” says Laurence Kearley, CAPA’s president.

“It’s such a great honour,” says Wayne. “It also reflects very well on the outstanding support our program has received all these years, not only within the faculty but across Canada.”

A fellowship of information rights defenders

In 1979, on receiving the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, Alfred Hitchcock declared: “This award is meaningful because it comes from my fellow dealers in celluloid.” Bringing it to the context of today, one could safely paraphrase the movie director’s quip and say that Wayne’s award is especially meaningful because it comes from his fellow information rights dealers.

Wayne is at home at CAPA, the leading and oldest professional association in the field, where his fellow dealers work day after day to ensure Canadians have their privacy protected and are able to demand information disclosure from organizations.

Wayne’s personal story follows closely the history of information rights in Canada, with touchpoints that correspond to crucial moments in the emergence of access and privacy both as a major concern and as an issue subject to extensive regulation.

About 30 years ago, dealing with the administration of information rights took a considerable part of Wayne’s time as a manager with the government of Alberta. That was before the enactment of Alberta’s FOIP Act in 1995.

“Back then the federal government had two separate pieces of legislation, one for access to information, another for privacy,” he explains. In the absence of provincial regulations, his job entailed extensive dealings with Ottawa. “It was at that time that I realized how powerful this legislation is for accountability and transparency in government decision-making.”

Education—the first step

When Wayne came to the Faculty of Extension in 2000, the initial goal wasn’t very ambitious. He was to create a single access and privacy course to be delivered by what was then known as the Government Studies unit.

Wayne had this first course—IAPP Foundations—up and running in April of 2000, but wasn’t sold on the idea of a one-off offering. “As we were developing the course, we realized that actually that was actually a whole new profession,” he recalls.

After getting the green light (and some initial funding) from the provincial government, the Information Access and Protection of Privacy (IAPP) program was officially in the works. But it wasn’t easy. “In the early 2000s, there were no recognized experts in the country,” Wayne says. “I had to identify and hand-pick subject matter experts.”

By 2004, after intensive work that involved simultaneously creating curriculum and a nationwide crusade to secure funding, all five courses in the IAPP program were open for registration.

Helping to write history

Wayne’s work as an advocate for education and professionalization of the area was noticed—and his expertise and input was repeatedly requested at pivotal times in the history of information rights.

In 2003, then Justice Minister with the federal government Anne MacLellan invited Wayne as an external adviser to make recommendations for improving Canada’s Access to Information Act.

Later, in 2006, he was seconded by the Offices of the Information and Privacy Commissioners of Canada to work with CAPA and establish national competencies and standards for the new profession of Information Rights Administration.

Ultimately, this work resulted in the creation of the national certifying body for Information Rights professionals. “Wayne successfully managed to achieve support and agreement among Canada’s stakeholder agencies and groups to establish the Canadian Institute of Access and Privacy Professionals,” says Laurence.

Getting together for lifelong learning

Another brainchild of Wayne’s, the University of Alberta’s annual Access and Privacy conference was first held in 2003. The national event, which allows students and professionals in the area to learn from leading Canadian and international experts, quickly grew to become Canada’s largest and most respected conference of its kind.

During its nearly two decades of existence, the ‘combo’ program-conference, as well as Wayne, have amassed an impressive number of awards.

Starting in 2004 with the Program Award of Distinction for Academic Excellence (by the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education), the growing list of accolades currently includes six awards presented by institutions like the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta, and the Government of Alberta.

The IAPP certificate is a fully online program that focuses on the theories, concepts, principles, issues, and best practices involved in the appropriate administration of access and privacy legislation. To enroll, students must have four years of work experience and a high school diploma; conditional entrance, however, may be granted for those who do not fulfill the work experience requirement.