Last week, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled the premier's office broke the government's own law by refusing to give the province's independent child protection watchdog unrestricted access to cabinet documents. But that won't stop government from continuing its efforts to marginalize Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and her office. The government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will take away Ms. Turpel-Lafond's unrestricted legal right to those documents. But an even greater concern for supporters of the children and youth representative could be just around the corner.
In the 2006 review that recommended the creation of Ms. Turpel-Lafond's office, former conflict of interest commissioner Ted Hughes stated the representative should have the authority to "monitor, review, audit and investigate" the performance of the child welfare system. But he also stated that oversight role "may not always be necessary."
The reason: the ministry own's "performance measurement, quality assurance programs and public reporting" may be "sufficient to assure British Columbians that vulnerable children and youth are being protected as they should be."
So he also recommended that oversight role be given a second look in five years time. By law, the government will have an opportunity to do just that when the legislation comes up for review - in 2012 at the latest. And I'm betting the Liberals will take that opportunity - even though the ministry of children and family development is arguably in need of more oversight now than it was when Mr. Hughes completed his review.