is a designation that may be used for a variety of official positions, especially referring to a high-ranked public (administrative or police
) official, or an analogous official in the private sector (e.g. the highest executive position of many North American sports
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).
Senior Public Servants, Commissioners and other high ranking bureaucrats referred to collectively as Mandarins.
A Commissioner is the formal head of one of the territories
(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
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.
Current Canadian commissioners
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
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
, New York
, the heads of statewide cabinet
-level departments are called "commissioners". In California
, commissioners are subordinate judicial officers.
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:
- British Central Africa
- Territories of Zambesia and Rhodesia, administered under charter by the British South Africa Company
- the Oil Rivers Protectorate (from 5 June 1885 under a consul-general; soon renamed Niger Coast Protectorate), from 3 August 1891 till 1 January 1900 when it became the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, hence under a High Commissioner
- the Caribbean Turks and Caicos Islands, 1874 - 4 July 1959, as a dependency under the Governor of Jamaica colony
- the Weihaiwei concession territory (held from China) from 1902 to 1938
- Kamaran Island, in June 1915 taken from the Ottoman Empire and subordinated to Aden colony, but not incorporated, till on 30 November 1967 it became part of the newly independent People's Republic of South Yemen.
- the UN trust territory of British Cameroons, only two incumbents, from 1 October 1954 (the only Special Resident succeeding himself till 1956) to 1 October 1961 when Southern British Cameroons is incorporated into the independent Republic of Cameroon (former French mandate of Cameroun), after the northern part united with Nigeria on 1 June 1961
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
, was used for various officials employed at different levels of the colonial administration in several French-ruled countries.
After on 17 April 1914 Tannu Tuva
(ethnically Mongolian) was declared a Russian 'protected' area
), 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
each were under a British Administrator, in 1949 restyled Resident
under a French Military Governor, in 1950 also restyled Résident) 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 and Gary Bettman in the NHL.
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: