Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Judge Hughe's Letter to Campbell / Part 194 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

On Friday, the court ruled against Campbell's Ministry of Children in upholding Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's suit. Campbell and the MCFD broke the law. That's what Judge Griffin ruled.

Turpel-Lafond required and requested materials from the government in order to complete her audit of the Child in the Home of a Relative program. She was within her rights to ask and to have the materials. The government had refused to release these specific documents and had also introduced legislation that would limit future information access retroactively to March 30, 2007. Turpel-Lafond sued the government on grounds with which B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin agreed on Friday. Judge Griffin ruled that the Children's Representative was given access to cabinet documents when her office was created, and that it's clear from the law that Campbell and other politicians at that time placed a higher priority on protecting children than preserving cabinet confidentiality. Griffin ordered Campbell to give Turpel-Lafond the materials she had requested.

Judge Ted Hughes was called upon by Premier Campbell to conduct an independent review of the Child Welfare program of B.C. Ever since former judge Hughes authored the 2006 scathing review, making scores of recommendations upon which the government has acted, Mr. Hughes has appropriately maintained silence on MCFD matters. Hughe's review led to the creation of the office which Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond now occupies. After Friday's ruling it was hinted that Mr. Hughes might have something to say on Monday.

Well on Monday Mr. Hughes spoke - broke his silence today. Clearly he perceives a potential greater conflict down the road if the Government and the Ministry will not allow the Children's rep to do her job.

He underscored that in 2006 Mr. Campbell had supported the sweeping powers granted to this representative so that objectivity and independence could be assured in evaluating the progress and outcomes of the Ministry. Such powers for this office were an “integral and critical part of what both you and I were attempting to achieve,” Hughes expressed to Mr. Campbell. He mentioned that proposed changes to those powers will result in a “substantial impairment” of her ability to carry out her work as well as to “strike a negative blow to the heart” of efforts to repair public confidence in the system.

The government response on Friday was one of compliance with the present ruling but intention to pursue a protocol "that allows appropriate access to cabinet documents so that independent officers of the legislature can do their work." That still reflected control and lack of disclosure. So, Mr. Hughes has suggested that if Mr. Campbell refuses to withdraw the legislation, that the Premier should table the legislation to allow for mediation on a number of issues not least of which is that nonadaptive relationship between Turpel-Lafond and Lesley du Toit, B.C.'s Deputy Children's Minister. Hughes maintains that “this unfortunate and unacceptable relationship is standing in the way of the full repair of the child welfare system of this province which my 2006 report was intended to achieve.” “For obvious reasons I encourage you to take a leadership role in such a (mediation) initiative. We have to remember this is all about our kids — of that we cannot lose sight.”

As Lindsay Kines and Rob Shaw of the Times Colonist noted on Monday, May 17, 2010 1:03 PM, that Hughes suggested that just as Campbell sought Hughes’ help in 2006, the ex-judge would offer his services again, free of charge, “if you believe I could assist again."

The Times Colonist has provided a pdf document of the entire letter which Mr. Hughes sent to premier Campbell.

File photo credit Staff, Times Colonist


  1. The closest analogy of the current MCFD vs. RCY debate that I can think of is that of posted speed limits. MCFD is speeding, and fully intends to continue speeding, but needs to cover up the speeding signs and has to hide from radar detectors in order to avoid accountability or paying a fine.

    Now, not only can MCFD no longer hide (from one speeding sign, at least), but there is a potential to reveal all of their past offences as well.

    Consider: MCFD is a major cash cow with a 1.4 billion dollar budget that likely doubles if legal and health costs borne by other ministry's such as legal and health were also factored in.

    What if, Premier Campbell, as a businessman and known union buster is truly interested in leaving a legacy that sees BC in better shape than before he arrived, is playing both ends of the stick.

    Could he be simply appearing to bow to enourmous pressures from the large number of special interest groups of whoever promotes the child protection industry, and is being told to file the blindfold legislation?

    In reality though, does he truly does wish to "fix" MCFD and has hired at least two very qualified individuals that can might just be able to pull it off?

    Consider first the appointments of two obviously qualified individuals:

    Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafonde who has Cree heritage and impeccable credentials that qualifies and motivates her to address the injustice of half the children in care being aboriginal.

    Next, consider MCFD Deputy Minister Lesley du Toit, an experienced child protection consultant from South Africa. This person has the experience, and is well qualified to state her believe that MCFD is a racist organization.

    MCFD minister Mary Polak, on the other hand, simply doesn't have clue and was appointed for that reason. She does what she is told to do so the employees of her Minister think she is protecting them. That's her job first, because all she can do is trust and hope her employees are doing their job with respect to protecting children, and they pat her on the head and assure her this is the case.

    Or, is Campbell evil, in that he is representing business and special interests that he knows will take care of him when he retires, and he is attempting to preserve their jobs and his future by doing all he can to increase the MCFD budget, and cut those Ministries such as education and health that don't help him after he departs office.

    I still say it's all about money. An average removal costs BC Taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    In cases where children are later returned, about $1,000 to $2,000 in education course costs are declared as being solely responsible for educating the parent on the error of their ways. Guilty or not, this is how MCFD saves face in removing a child, by having on record a guilty parent they "saved" with services, or, they keep the children in care until age 19.

    The problem is, MCFD deliberately stretches this "process" in order to last as long as possible. That is why the nasty treatment of parents kicks in, because the justification for MCFD staff doing this has to be a continuous process of keeping parents in the 'guilty' box during this time.

    How can it not be possible not to see a report that clearly says that identical results for children can be achieved by offering services of 4-figure cost thereby saving a 6-figure cost by avoiding removals?

    The Baynes case has to now exceeed one million dollars if all sources of costs are accounted for.

    This expensive overblown process and poor outcomes for children simply does not make sense. I believe there are those in power who are full aware of the problems, but are also equally aware they have very few resources with which to tackle the issues.

  2. The RCY vs. MCFD affair is likely not about the specific request of releasing certain information. It is a testing of the waters to provoke the tiger, and to let that tiger know that it is in fact, in a cage.

    MCFD has a culture of entitlement and self-importance that has evolved over the years. If a law within CFCSA or Adoption or Child Welfare is not to their liking, they modify it, cancel it, or write a new one.

    Employees know that to get around some laws, all they have to do is write internal guidelines that teach them how to bypass the intent of said law.

    To be sure, many children are protected from their environment by being removed from it, but before there is any attempt to improve that environment.

    However, there is virtually no protection for children once they are removed, and less so if they are removed on questionable, or fabricated grounds.

    Perhaps once RCY has demonstrated they do have some powers, perhaps this will set the stage for removal of some of the intervention restrictions that have been imposed on them as they try to act on behalf of children.

  3. 15 to 10 years ago the Child, Youth and Family Advocate + Children's Commission diligently served to cover up atrocities committed by social workers and their accessories against poor children. Most of the same experts do the same for the last 4 years, just more experienced RCY Officers. I copy a paragraph RE my personal experience and roughly estimated costs of services from my blog:
    "Most of the nineteen children in our care had special needs. Immediate family breakdown was in the best interest of only six of them, necessary to protect their health and lives. Thirteen other children's families needed an easily accessible help. Systematic violations of the law requiring the less drastic services (maybe some babysitting, or help from the cleaning service, a little more food or other essential requirements), whenever possible, astronomically increase costs of State care. This care is usually inadequate and often, as in our case, very harmful and with tragic results. Maybe less than one out of every one hundred dollars spent on similar destructions of lives could easily and dramatically improve them."


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