One of the province's most outspoken lawyers recently took a job with the government, and the Liberal justice critic has questioned whether the hire was politically motivated.

Peter Ralph, a well-known advocate for mental health and one of the voices who opposed budget cuts to the Crown attorney's office this year, started his new job at the justice department this week.

Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons said he thinks the province may have lost one of its strongest voices.

"Mr. Ralph's criticism at the time, combined with all the other criticism, it did lead to changes," Parsons said.

"It led to them putting in some reviews, making some changes, and they did so very quickly that it was in the span of days, really."

Parsons said he believes it was strong public opposition from Ralph, and those like him, that prompted the government to reconsider its cuts to the justice department.

"I heard from plenty of people within the system but all of them were afraid to speak on the record because it could have meant their employment," he said.

"To have someone with Mr. Ralph's background willing to speak out and talk about the negative effects was good, but it's unfortunate I guess now that that won't be happening."

Former law partner not buying it

Prominent defence lawyer and Ralph's former law partner Bob Simmonds said he doesn't think the hiring of Ralph has anything to do with silencing him.


Bob Simmonds, Ralph's former law partner, says the job was likely just a good opportunity for Ralph. (CBC)

"They hired him to shut him up? Have you ever heard such nonsense in all your life?" Simmonds said.

"He was very outspoken, he said his piece. I was on the committee (that looked into the cuts), I said my piece. One of the things I think we've shown very clearly is, right or wrong, we will voice our opinion because I believe it's educational," he added.

Simmonds said it's more likely government sought him out based on his level of expertise.

"They had an opening, they needed someone with his experience, they approached him. Far be it from us to say no," he said.

"He thought this was a good opportunity, he discussed it with his family. I think if he's happy — and he appears to be very happy — I think government's made an excellent choice."