We are Justice
Matthew McCreery was drawn to a career in law while an undergraduate student at Ottawa’s Carleton University.
After suddenly losing his eyesight at the end of his first year from complications due to diabetes, he didn't miss a beat. He returned to school after a summer of adaptive rehabilitation for his second year in Carleton’s legal studies and criminology program.
It was during that second academic year, after participating in a moot court session (as a judge, no less!), that he realized that he had a particular talent and interest in law.
“The experience of listening to my judgment along with those of my other judge colleagues on the moot court made me think that maybe there was a future in this for me. So I continued with a concentration in law.”
After completing his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988, he earned his LL.B. in 1992 from the University of Ottawa. He then went to Scotland to study at the University of Edinburgh, where he completed his Master’s in Law, specializing in comparative public law, in 1995.
Matthew started his public service career at Correctional Service Canada in 1997, where he participated in the Management Trainee Program. During that time, he primarily studied French, as that was the first required element of the program.
When asked how he defines "success" in his career, Matthew laughingly answers that he finds it rewarding to
"write decent legal opinions and have clients say 'thanks – that was helpful."
In 2002, he joined the Department of Justice Canada, as counsel in the Information Law and Privacy (ILAP) Section, where he remains to this day. The Section’s work involves providing advice to the Minister and other federal institutions on the interpretation of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, and assisting and conducting litigation in cases involving access-to-information and privacy (ATIP) issues.
“ATIP law applies government-wide. So it is fascinating to learn about the operations of those departments and agencies and how ATIP law is being applied.”
“ILAP has a hand in promoting consistent approaches to the application of ATIP law, and I, as a member of ILAP, get to make a positive contribution.”
He also speaks highly of his section colleagues, a group that
"works well together under a great boss [Denis Kratchanov] who shows exceptional leadership."
To assist in his work, Matthew uses "screen reader" software, which converts electronic documents into spoken words.
When he first started at the Department, he met with senior administration in the then-Public Law Group to discuss his particular software requirements.
As he is bilingual and works in both official languages, the software needs to be advanced enough to recognize whether the document he is working on is written in French or English, and read it out loud accordingly, without him having to switch software programs for each language.
In order to read any documents that are available only in printed form, Matthew uses a scanner in his office to make them electronically accessible to his screen reader software.
Matthew is also an active member of the Department’s Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities. This group's mission is, among other things, to advise and support the Deputy Minister on issues affecting the hiring, retention, accommodation and career development of persons with disabilities.
“With the recent federal budget, the role of the Advisory Committee will, I think, become more important in order to help promote the interests of employees with disabilities.”
Former Deputy Minister John Sims recently attended a meeting of the Advisory Committee, along with Associate Deputy Minister Donna Miller and the Department’s Disability Champion Barbara Ritzen.
An accomplishment the Committee recently celebrated was to help secure a number of spots for various designated employment equity groups, including employees with disabilities, in the Department’s management trainee initiative, the Justice Leaders of Tomorrow Program.
Despite unexpected challenges that have not always been easy to overcome, Matthew is enjoying a successful and rewarding public service career.
When asked how he defines "success" in his career, he laughingly answers that he finds it rewarding to
“write decent legal opinions and have clients say 'thanks – that was helpful'.”
With a smile on his face, he credits his success to
“part stubbornness, part determination – part and parcel of coming from good Celtic stock!”
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