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Commissioner: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Commissioner is in principle the title given to a member of a commission.

In practice the title of commissioner has evolved to include a variety of senior officials, often sitting on a specific commission. In particular, commissioner frequently refers to senior police or government officials. A High Commissioner is equivalent to an ambassador, originally between the United Kingdom and the Dominions sharing the British Monarch as head of state and now between all Commonwealth states whether Commonwealth Realms, Commonwealth Republics or Commonwealth states having their own monarchs The title is also sometimes given to senior officials in the private sector, for instance many North American sports leagues.


Domestic public official

A Commissioner within a modern state generally holds his office by virtue of a commission from the head of state or a council of elected representatives (or appointed by non-elected officials in the case of dictatorships).


Imperial China

Senior Public Servants, Commissioners and other high ranking bureaucrats referred to collectively as Mandarins.

Canadian territories

A Commissioner is the formal head of one of the territories of Canada (i.e. those areas within the country without the constitutional status of a province). Unlike the Governor General or a Lieutenant Governor, who are representatives of the Queen of Canada, Commissioners are not vice-regal representatives, although they too perform duties akin to such including reading the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the territorial Legislature. They are appointed by the federal government as a delegate of cabinet. Under the federal statutes.[1][2][3] governing the territories, the Commissioners act in accordance with written instructions from cabinet or the minister responsible (currently the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development). While commissioners used to have a direct day-to-day role in administration and government and chaired the Executive Council of the territory, today they are under instruction to act more like a provincial Lieutenant-Governor, as territorial assemblies have taken on more responsibility.

A Commissioner of a Territory is eligible to present the Vice-Regal Commendation to any Canadian Forces Members as any Lieutenant-Governors for long-term or outstanding service to the Office of a Lieutenant-Governor or Commissioner.[4]

Current Canadian commissioners

Symbol of Office Territory Current commissioner Commissioner since Website
Coat of arms of Northwest Territories.svg
Territory's Coat of Arms
Northwest Territories The Honourable Tony Whitford April 29, 2005 Website

Territory's Coat of Arms
Nunavut The Honourable Ann Meekitjuk Hanson April 21, 2005 Website
Commissioner crest.jpg Yukon The Honourable Geraldine Van Bibber December 1, 2005 Website


In police services in the Commonwealth and USA, the title of commissioner typically designates the head of an entire police force(e.g., the New York City Police Department, the London Metropolitan Police or the California Highway Patrol). In some countries, such as in many Latin American countries and in France, the title of commissioner rather refers to the head of a single police station.


Prior to the Acts of Union 1707, an elected member of the Estates (parliament) of Scotland held the office of Commissioner, representing a constituency (the equivalent of a Member of Parliament in the contemporaneous Parliament of England). There were Burgh Commissioners and Shire or Stewartry Commissioners.

United States

In many U.S. states, the legislative and executive decision-making bodies of counties are called the board of commissioners or county commission. In Minnesota, Alaska, New York and Tennessee, the heads of statewide cabinet-level departments are called "commissioners". In California, commissioners are subordinate judicial officers.

Historically, the U.S. government appointed special commissioners for a variety of tasks. For example, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1862 to 1889 was a commissioner, not a Cabinet secretary. In the late 1800s and into the 1930s the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture also appointed officials to represent their agencies in foreign countries, calling them "trade commissioners" and "agricultural commissioners", respectively.

International public and colonial context

British and Commonwealth overseas possessions

The title of Commissioner, as such, was used by the (gubernatorial) chief British official in:

European Union

The European Commissioners are the members of the European Commission, the highest executive organ of the European Union, which is the closest EU equivalent to a government. Each Commissioner is assigned a portfolio, but they make most important decisions collegially, often subject to approval by the European Parliament and/or the Council of the European Union.

French colonies

The French equivalent, Commissaire, was used for various officials employed at different levels of the colonial administration in several French-ruled countries.

Russian Empire

After on 17 April 1914 Tannu Tuva (ethnically Mongolian) was declared a Russian 'protected' area (Uryanhay [Urjanhaj] kray), two subsequent Russian Commissioners for the Affairs of Urjanhai Kray (1914 - 1915 A.P. Cererin (Tsererin) and 1915 - 1917 Yu.V. Grigoryev) were appointed, alongside the last native tribal Paramount chief (title Ambyn-noyon), followed by a single Commissar of the Provisional Government (October 1917 - 16 March 1918 Aleksey Aleksandrovich Turchaninov) until czarist rule collapsed for good, giving way to the Soviet regime

United Nations administration

A UN Commissioner appointed in 1949 supervised the transition of the UN Trust territory of Libya (a former Italian colony; actually Tripolitania and Cyrenaica each were under a British Administrator, in 1949 restyled Resident, Fezzan under a French Military Governor, in 1950 also restyled RĂ©sident) to independence as a united monarchy in 1951


In many North American sports leagues, including nearly all professional leagues, the commissioner is the highest executive position. The exact powers of the commissioner depend on the constitution and/or rules of the league. Commissioners are elected by the owners of the league's clubs, and handle matters such as discipline, arbitration of disputes between the clubs, etc.

The title was first used in 1920, when Kenesaw Mountain Landis was appointed Commissioner of Baseball in the aftermath of the Black Sox Scandal. Landis was titled "Commissioner" partly to distinguish his office from that of the "President" of the American and National Leagues. Landis' title derived from the National Commission, the ruling body for baseball established in 1903, which were largely autonomous organizations at the time. Eager to restore public confidence in their sport's integrity, baseball owners gave Landis absolute power and a lifetime contract, which permitted the former judge to assume more power over the sport than a commissioner in any sport has held since.

The other major professional sports leagues of North America followed suit, replacing their positions of league president with that of commissioner. The National Football League appointed its first commissioner in 1941, the National Basketball Association in 1967, and the National Hockey League in 1993. However, the commissioners' powers and responsibilities in these leagues are not substantially different from those of the presidents that preceded them. Although baseball's subsequent commissioners have not had the absolute power that Landis did, current Commissioner Bud Selig has succeeded in centralizing authority over Major League Baseball in the commissioner's office, relegating the position of league president to an honorary title and giving baseball's commissioner competencies similar to those of his colleagues in the other major sports.

Many minor professional and amateur leagues throughout the United States and Canada have also appointed commissioners. The title has not caught on outside North America. In addition to Selig, the other current commissioners of the North American major professional leagues are Roger Goodell in the NFL, David Stern in the NBA, Gary Bettman in the NHL, and Don Garber in MLS.

Compound titles

In many cases the term Commissioner is part of a more specific title, including English renditions of such titles in other languages. Examples (in some cases there are further compounds) include:

See also

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Vice-Regal Commendation

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

COMMISSIONER, in general an officer appointed to carry out some particular work, or to discharge the duty of a particular office; one who is a member of a commission (q.v.). In this sense the word is applied to members of a permanently constituted department of the administration, as civil service commissioners, commissioners of income tax, commissioners in lunacy, &c. It is also the title given to the heads of or important officials in various governmental departments, as commissioner of customs. In some British possessions in Africa and the Pacific the head of the government is styled high commissioner. In India a commissioner is the chief administrative official of a division which includes several districts. The office does not exist in Madras, where the same duties are discharged by a board of revenue, but is found in most of the other provinces. The commissioner comes midway between the local government and the district officer. In the regulation provinces the district officer is called a collector, and in the non-regulation provinces a deputy-commissioner. In the former he must always be a member of the covenanted civil service, but in the latter he may be a military officer.

A chief commissioner is a high Indian official, governing a province inferior in status to a lieutenant-governorship, but in direct subordination to the governor-general in council. The provinces which have chief commissioners are the Central Provinces and Berar, the North-West Frontier Province and Coorg. The agent to the governor-general of Baluchistan is also chief commissioner of British Baluchistan, the agent to the governor-general of Rajputana is also chief commissioner of the British district of Ajmere-Merwara, and there is a chief commissioner of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Several provinces, such as the Punjab, Oudh, Burma and Assam, were administered by chief commissioners before they were raised to the status of lieutenant-governorships (see Lieutenant).

A commissioner for oaths in England is a solicitor appointed by the lord chancellor to administer oaths to persons making affidavits for the purpose of any cause or matter. The Commissioner for Oaths Act 1889 (with an amending act 1891), amending and consolidating various other acts, regulates the appointment and powers of such commissioners. In most large towns the minimum qualification for appointment is six years' continuous practice, and the application must be supported by two barristers, two solicitors and at least six neighbours of the applicant. The charge made by commissioners for every oath, declaration, affirmation or attestation upon honour is one shilling and sixpence; for marking each exhibit (a document or other thing sworn to in an affidavit and shown to a deponent when being sworn), one shilling.

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