British Columbia

B.C. children's representative up for reappointment

B.C.'s outspoken Representative for Children and Youth is still waiting to hear if she will be keeping her job.
B.C. Children's Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond could be reappointed for another five-year term. (CBC)

B.C.'s outspoken Representative for Children and Youth is still waiting to hear if she will be keeping her job.

An all-party committee of MLAs is expected to convene to determine if Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond will be appointed for a second term. Her first five-year term expires in November.

Since her appointment in 2006,  the former judge from Saskatchewan has earned a reputation as a feisty advocate for vulnerable children, and sharp critic of the shortfalls in government programs intended to protect them.

Turpel-Lafond has shown she's willing to take on any politician in the interests of vulnerable children. In one report after another she's demanded better services, then attacked the government for not providing them.

"Basically I've got a mandate to do the job. I do the job. I think I do it very effectively," she told CBC News.

Work praised by NDP, premier

New Democrat MLA Claire Trevena says Turpel-Lafond has done a magnificent job.

"She's been a very independent passionate advocate who has shown really the failings of the ministry for a number of years now and quite clearly done a great job and has things she still wants to do," said Trevena.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark acknowledged Turpel-Lafond has bene critical of the government, but said that's what watchdogs are supposed to do.

"I don't quibble with  the fact she does her job and does it well but it won't be me that's making that decision. It will be the legislative committee," Clark said.

"She's an independent officer of the legislature so it's the legislature itself that will be making that appointment and  I won't be interfering in that."

The Liberals MLAs on the committee haven't tipped their hand yet, but in recent months the government has said it's committed to a better relationship with her office.

In April she signed an accord  with the new Minister for Children and Family Development Mary McNeil in an attempt to improve their working relationship.

Her position was created by the government after retired judge Ted Hughes issued a report for the government that called for the re-establishment of an independent officer of the legislature to act as watchdog for children.

Hughes blamed Liberal budget cuts and internal upheaval for many of the problems in B.C.'s troubled child protection system and called for more stability.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies

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