I take no pleasure in writing this. I wish it was different. The people of British Columbia are irate, disgusted and distrustful of the Ministry of Children and Family Development but most particularly with the people who manage it, Ministry Polak and her deputy du Toit. They are the government, and people would jettison this government now if there was a chance. I am not making this up. Comments left on my blog are smoldering. Comments on CBC's story are a unanimous inferno. Everyone is tired of this continuous cirque de la critique. We want to be governed by people whom we can respect and from whom we can expect consistent candor and honesty, civility and mercy.
As expected Mary Polak is wearing the bulls-eye and is taking the hits from the public and the press. Cynical and scathing remarks announce her incompetence and call for her dismissal now or her election defeat later. She is being journalistically stripped of her Honorable dignity and she may be undeserving. She is a genuinely good person.
What she may merit is an outstanding performance award to be given at the ACTRA Award ceremony in February 2011. She has been playing her role perfectly and following the script to the letter. She has pretended that she has power and is in control. Her Deputy has that. She has been defending her Deputy Ministry Leslie du Toit with whom Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond had the difficulties that hit the news fan this week. The ACTRA may be grand consolation for Polak because it is possible by that time, that Campbell will shuffle Polak out of this position if du Toit pulls another ill advised stunt that Polak must defend. Of course I have seen Mary Polak being interviewed, defending the actions of her Deputy Minister. I have listened to her controlled and calm answers. She has little choice. Du Toit is not accountable to her. Polak inherited du Toit who was one of Campbell's favourites. She was an import brought in to transform an impaired MCFD. She has expertise in child welfare whereas Polak does not. Polak can be told anything. She is a politician in no position to dispute with a seasoned senior level civil servant. If someone should be receiving scrutiny it is du Toit who has exhibited exceptional guardedness, even unwillingness to disclose MCFD information as manifested by the uncooperative posture that took the MCFD to court last week. That court ruling must be an embarassment because the amendment notion was a bonehead move politically. Of course then we heard the immediate post ruling defiance that government/MCFD would still seek the legislative change that could inhibit the Representative of Children and Youth.
Someone used some common sense yesterday. A wise decision on Wednesday. CBC ran the story at 3:15 PM informing the people of B.C. that senior public servant Allan Seckel released a letter saying that the government will withdraw the amendment that would restrict children's rep. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's access to cabinet documents. Interestingly, the letter was addressed to former judge Ted Hughes, who on Monday wrote an open letter to Premier Campbell asking him to do precisely what the Seckel letter expresses. Hughes took his unusual step because of his concern that the necessary watchdog office of children's representative would be compromised or rendered powerless by MCFD's proposed amendment. The representative was one of the many recommendations Hughes made to the Premier in his 2006 review of the MCFD. Campbell agreed in 2006 that this objective and independent set of eyes was crucial to the integrity and effectiveness of the Ministry.
Read more: And read people's comments after the CBC article