New Brunswick entered Confederation in 1867 with the rudiments of the Westminster model of legislative democracy – representative and responsible government – already in place. These particular institutions were typical of those in other British colonies at the time, which were characterized by a relatively small electorate, a limited scope for governmental activity, and elitist decision-making practices. But while the parliamentary institutions and political culture in other former British colonies developed and matured over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, New Brunswick seemed caught in a time trap. Until the 1960s which were characterised by sweeping changes in governance, social services, education and income redistribution, all under the visionary programme known as Equal Opportunity shepherded by Liberal Premier Louis Robichaud. Since then, a parade of premiers and party leaders have tried to put their own stamp on the province. When the Liberals were defeated in 2010, it marked the first time a New Brunswick Government had been defeated after just one term. This paper portrays legislative democracy in New Brunswick as it has evolved from its 18th-century origins into the early years of the 21st century.
Many studies have focused on the various Officers of Parliament even though there is little agreement about the classification of such Officers. Less has been written about Canadian OmbudsOffices which include some Officers of Parliament and others that are part of the Executive. Speciality OmbudsOffices encompass a range of variations as demonstrated by the eight chosen for consideration in this article. The heads of these offices and other senior officials were interviewed in May 2010.
At the outset there is need to clarify usage of the term “Ombudsman”. Statutes and other official references usually pertain to the position of the Ombudsman, while common usage may either be to the position or to the current incumbent who occupies that position. It is thus necessary to be cognizant of the context in which the term is used. We will often use the term “OmbudsOffice” where appropriate because the staff in the Ombudsman’s office usually plays a key role in processing and deciding public complaints.