An oversight oversight

Earlier, we argued the differences between former Justice Ted Hughes and deputy minister Lesley du Toit's visions of the ministry of children and family development might not have become apparent if the Campbell administration hadn't appointed an a children and youth representative to oversee that ministry. But what you might not know is the representative's oversight function may not exist after November 2011.

The creation of such an office was Mr. Hughes's first and foremost recommendation in his independent review of British Columbia's child protection system. But, in that review, the former conflict of interest commissioner acknowledged the representative's power to "monitor, review, audit and investigate the performance and accountability" of that system may not "be a permanent aspect of its mandate."

The reason: "it is unusual to have an external body overseeing the functioning of a government ministry." As a result, Mr. Hughes suggested "that this area of responsibility be reviewed in five years time." And if public confidence in the ministry has been restored by that time, the representative's mandate may be revised to "include only its advocacy functions."

So the question is will the Campbell administration, if it remains in power after the May 2009 election, act on this suggestion to neuter the representative - whose present officeholder Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is seen as more of a critic than a watchdog.

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