FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government today nominated three legislative officers and introduced legislation to implement recommendations of the Levert Report relating to the duties of legislative officers.

“These three individuals are well qualified, were selected following an independent process, and have been approved in consultation with the leaders of opposition parties,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau, who is also deputy government house leader.

The government introduced three motions to appoint the nominees to their positions.

Alexandre Deschênes was nominated to become the conflict of interest commissioner on Dec. 1. If the Integrity Commissioner Act, introduced today, is adopted the conflict of interest commissioner will become the integrity commissioner.

The responsibilities of this new position will include overseeing the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act as well as the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act. The integrity commissioner will also be responsible for lobbyists’ registration when legislation is proclaimed on or before July 1, 2017, as well as the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act when the access to information and privacy commissioner’s term ends in September 2017.

Michèle Pelletier was nominated to be the consumer advocate for insurance, and Kimberly Poffenroth was nominated to be the chief electoral officer. Pelletier will officially assume her office on Dec. 11, 2016, but will be granted unpaid leave until Feb. 1, 2017 while she wraps up her law practice. Poffenroth will assume her office on March 13, 2017 when the current chief electoral officer’s term ends.

The chief electoral officer’s appointment is for 10 years, while the other appointments are for terms of seven years.

“Legislative officers play an important role in ensuring that New Brunswickers are fairly represented, and that they have an independent voice on important issues,” said Boudreau. “It is important that these independent voices be maintained.”

The government also tabled legislation expanding the duties of the child and youth advocate to include vulnerable adults and seniors. Once proclaimed, the child, youth and senior advocate would ensure seniors have an independent voice on issues of importance to them. The current advocate would remain in this role until the expiration of his term.

“The creation of the integrity commissioner resulted from a review of current legislative officers that was launched in 2015,” said Boudreau. “The goal of the review was to determine how the functions and operations of those officers could be carried out more efficiently.”

“Giving a mandate to a legislative officer for seniors advocacy respects one of our commitments and speaks to the importance our government places on looking after our seniors who have done so much to build our province,” said Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Lisa Harris.

The roles and responsibilities of the consumer advocate for insurance and the chief electoral officer will remain the same.


New Brunswick Consumer Advocate for Insurance

Michèle Pelletier received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Université de Moncton in 1989 and a bachelor of laws from the same university in 1992. She is a barrister-solicitor and has been a member of the Law Society of New Brunswick since June 1994. She was a lawyer at Plourde and Arseneault in Dalhousie from June 1994 to April 1996, and she has been a lawyer at Arseneault and Pelletier since April 1996, where she also manages the office. She practices law in both official languages and has successfully argued many cases involving insurance, family, and contract law. She has been vice-chair of the WorkSafe NB Appeals Tribunal since 2015. She also sat on Service New Brunswick’s board of directors, where she became familiar with the operations of provincial agencies and commissions. Pelletier has been a member of the Association des juristes d’expression française du Nouveau-Brunswick since 1994, and of the Real Property Review Committee of the Law Society of New Brunswick since 2015.

Chief Electoral Officer of the Province of New Brunswick

Kimberly Poffenroth received a bachelor of arts in history from the University of New Brunswick in 1992 and a bachelor of laws from the same university in 1995. After clerking with the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, she was admitted to the New Brunswick bar in 1996 and began practice with the Moncton law firm of Murphy Collette Murphy. In December 1998, she joined the legislative services branch of the New Brunswick Office of the Attorney General as legislative counsel. She assumed various managerial roles with the legislative services branch until she was appointed acting chief legislative counsel and acting assistant deputy attorney general in October 2010, an appointment which was made permanent in July 2012. She is a member of various professional organizations. She is a past president of the New Brunswick branch of the Canadian Bar Association and a current member of its council and of the association’s national standing committee on resolutions, bylaws and constitution. She has also served as a member of council for the Law Society of New Brunswick and as president of both the York Sunbury Law Society and the New Brunswick Crown Counsel Association.

Integrity Commissioner

Judge Alexandre Deschênes is married to Huguette (Savoie) Deschênes and has two sons, François and Alain. He studied at College of Saint Joseph in Memramcook from 1960 to 1962, the University of Ottawa from 1962 to 1965 (BA) and the University of New Brunswick (LLB, 1968). He was admitted to the bar in 1968. He was legal counsel in the Department of Justice in Fredericton from 1968 to 1971. He was in private practice from 1972 to 1982 and specialized in civil litigation as a partner in the law firm of Michaud, LeBlanc, Robichaud and Deschênes in Shediac and Moncton. In 1982, he was appointed as a judge of the Court of Queen's Bench (Trial Division) in Campbellton. In 1984, he joined the Family Division of the Court of Queen's Bench in Moncton and, in 1988, he came back to the Trial Division of the Court for the Judicial District of Bathurst. In 2000, he was appointed to the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick. On July 30, 2009, he was appointed to the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada.