New children's advocate chosen but name not released yet

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New children's advocate chosen but name not released yet

Manitoba will soon have a new children's advocate after a legislative committee chose a successor to current advocate Darlene MacDonald on Monday. 

The decision was made in an in-camera session of the committee, and the provincial government is expected to announce the appointment soon.

New Democratic Party members of the committee said the tradition of consensus on the appointment was abandoned when the Progressive Conservative majority voted for a specific candidate.

NDP MLA Andrew Swan said his party wishes the new appointee the best, but he criticized how the choice was made.

"We did raise concerns and I think the children of Manitoba would have been best served if the subcommittee had cast the net just a little wider than they ultimately chose to," Swan said.

A number of candidates were considered before the committee made its recommendation. Swan said a prime candidate for the role was not selected for an interview and that is "disappointing," as well.  

The tradition for decades has been to find unanimous support among the political parties when choosing officers such as the children's advocate, Swan said. 

"Sometimes that happens by some further discussion, sometimes that happens by going back and reconsidering.… In this case, the Progressive Conservatives used their majority to prevent any further consideration, and that's disappointing," Swan told reporters outside the committee room. 

The new children's advocate will be allowed to operate the office with more autonomy. 

New rules allowing the children's advocate to investigate and report on services to young people are expected to pass in this session of the legislature.

The children's advocate operates as an independent office of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. The children's advocate represents the rights of children and youth getting services (or who should be getting services) under the Child and Family Services Act or the Adoption Act.