Ex-New Brunswick MLA named new B.C. children’s advocate

Bernard Richard set to take over from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond as independent watchdog of B.C. children and families ministry

Bernard Richard of New Brunswick is taking over as B.C.'s second Representative for Children and Youth

Former New Brunswick cabinet minister and Ombudsman Bernard Richard has been selected as B.C.’s next Representative for Children and Youth.

Richard succeeds Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who retires at the end of November after serving two five-year terms as the first appointee to the job in B.C. Turpel-Lafond battled the B.C. government for more social work resources and highlighted weaknesses in the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Turpel-Lafond issued a statement Tuesday saying she is “delighted” with the selection of Richard, with whom she worked when he was New Brunswick’s child and youth advocate.

“I am confident there will be a smooth and effective transition without any significant loss of time or effort on investigations, monitoring or advocacy functions at the RCY,” Turpel-Lafond said.

Richard was unanimously selected by an all-party legislature committee. A lawyer and former social worker, he served in the cabinet of former premier Frank McKenna, including the aboriginal affairs and education ministries. Richard was appointed New Brunswick Ombudsman in 2004 and was appointed the province’s first child and youth advocate in 2006.

B.C. Liberal MLA Don McRae and NDP MLA Michelle Mungall, chair and deputy chair of the selection committee, both praised Richard’s record of public service.

“The committee was impressed by Mr. Richard’s passion for serving children and youth, his successful management of public sector organizations, and his considerable experience with indigenous communities,” McRae said.

 

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