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Tories axe ombudsman for victims of crime

Article by: By Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News ServiceMarch
– Canada’s first watchdog for crime victims has himself become a victim of job loss.

Steve Sullivan said he was surprised to receive a letter from the Harper government advising him to “start career planning as soon as possible” because his three-year term will not be renewed when it expires on April 24.

The longtime advocate for victims’ rights said he always thought he clicked with the Conservative government and that several of his recommendations have been adopted.

Sullivan was appointed in April 2007 as the first federal ombudsman for crime victims. He had been president of the National Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for nine years before his appointment to the $125,000-a-year post. His job as head of the nine-person office is to help victims tap into existing federal services, promote the needs of victims within the justice system and government, review complaints and identify victims’ issues.

Genevieve Breton, a spokeswoman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, would not explain why the government refused to reappoint Sullivan, as he requested in December. She said the job will be advertised and Sullivan said he might reapply.

Sullivan said Nicholson’s letter was dated March 12, three days before Public Safety Minister Vic Toews praised him publicly for the work he had done in pushing for a more expansive sex offender registry.

Sullivan is a unilingual anglophone and his appointment initially sparked some complaints to Canada’s official languages commissioner.