FREDERICTON (CNB) - Fredericton lawyer Anne Bertrand will be New Brunswick's first access to information and privacy commissioner, Premier Shawn Graham announced today.

Bertrand's appointment will take effect when the new Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act is proclaimed on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

"We are pleased that Anne Bertrand has agreed to accept this challenging new position," said Graham. "I am confident that the breadth of her experience in the field of law, along with her work in the community and strong values of justice and integrity, will serve New Brunswickers well as she fulfils the commissioner's responsibilities."

Graham added that Bertrand was chosen from among a number of candidates who expressed interest in the position following a selection process agreed upon by the legislative administration committee of the legislative assembly.

Bertrand has practised law in New Brunswick for 24 years. During that time, she has managed a successful private practice, and she has served as an adjudicator, mediator and tribunal member at the provincial and federal levels, including Human Resources Development Canada's Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and New Brunswick's Labour and Employment Board.

Bertrand is also active in the law community and the community at large. She is the chair of the New Brunswick Foundation for the Arts and serves as a member of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Appointments (New Brunswick) for the federal Department of Justice. Serving on a number of boards of directors, Bertrand was president of the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick from 1991 to 1998. She was named Queen's counsel in 2008.

As commissioner, Bertrand will be responsible for oversight of the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and of the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act. This will include hearing complaints under both pieces of legislation; and fulfilling an education and advocacy role in relation to access and privacy issues.

The commissioner's appointment is one of the reforms undertaken as a result of the provincial government's commitment to modernize New Brunswick's right to information and privacy laws.

The Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act sets out the public's right of access to public information and the requirements for the appropriate handling of personal information held by public bodies.

The commissioner has been appointed by the lieutenant-governor-in-council, and this must be confirmed by a motion of the legislative assembly during its next sitting. The leader of the official Opposition has been consulted, and he has indicated that his party will support the motion. The appointment is for five years, during which time the commissioner will report directly to the legislative assembly.