FREDERICTON (CNB) – Bernard Richard, the outgoing ombudsman and child and youth advocate, will lead a review of the mandates of legislative officers, Premier David Alward announced today.

Richard, who had been ombudsman since Jan. 1, 2004, and child and youth advocate since Oct. 26, 2006, ended his term on March 31. Since April 1, François Levert has been serving as interim ombudsman, while Christian Whalen has been serving as interim child and youth advocate.

Richard has agreed to oversee a review of the roles and responsibilities of various legislative officers as well as agencies, such as the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, whose mandates might better placed under the auspices of the legislative assembly.

"Bernard Richard has served our province very well for many years in many different capacities," said Alward. "I am grateful that he has agreed to take on yet another important assignment on behalf of New Brunswickers. I also wish to thank Mr. Levert and Mr. Whalen for agreeing to take on the roles of ombudsman and child and youth advocate pending the completion of this review."

Officers currently accountable to the legislative assembly include:

●    the access to information and privacy commissioner;
●    the auditor general;
●    the chief electoral officer;
●    the child and youth advocate;
●    the commissioner of official languages;
●    the conflict of interest commissioner;
●    the consumer advocate for insurance; and
●    the ombudsman.
    
Following are biographies of François Levert and Christian Whalen:

François Levert, interim ombudsman


Levert was born in Ottawa, Ont., and has lived in Shediac. He holds bachelor of arts degrees in history (1995) and religious studies (1996) from the University of Ottawa; a masters of canon law (2002) from Saint Paul University (Ottawa); and a bachelor of law degree (2004) from the Université du Moncton. He worked with the federal Department of Justice before joining the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate in 2006. In 2008, he became senior investigator in the Office of the Ombudsman and Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, and he has since played a lead role in daily operations in these offices as well as in numerous individual and systemic investigations. He was the lead and senior investigator on the Ashley Smith Report, published in 2008.

Christian Whalen, interim child and youth advocate

Whalen is a native of Fredericton and holds a bachelor of arts degree (1987) from Carleton University; a bachelor of law degree (1989) from the University of New Brunswick; and a diplôme d'études approfondies (1993) from l'Université Robert Schuman in Strasbourg, France.  A member of the bar in Ontario and New Brunswick, Whalen worked as a lawyer in private practice and as legal counsel to the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission before joining the Office of the Ombudsman in 2005 as legal counsel. He has been responsible for systemic investigations and acted as lead investigator on several reports of the Office of Ombudsman and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, including Connecting the Dots, Hand-in-Hand and Staying Connected. He was also the project lead on the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate's annual State of our Children and Youth reports.