Saturday, July 31, 2010

PARENTING BY THE STATE / Part 265 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Children's workers should be reined in.

One of these days I will write to tell the good stories of children's lives rescued and improved by the intervention of child welfare ministries. Their mandate is clear and essential, to protect defenseless children from abuse and neglect. I know that they exist. However, it is the miscues and bungles and stupidities that trouble child welfare's reputation in Canada and these are unnecessary and unacceptable. They catch my attention. Occasionally we talk about reforming child care and protection ministries. We certainly do that in British Columbia.">I refer you once again to reform advocate Leah Flagg. On her website you will see the appeal to sign a petition. Please do it. The effect of petitions is negligible I grant, but a list of supporters is better than silence.

Canada’s child-welfare agencies have among the broadest intervention powers in the Western world. Records show that Canadian agencies intervene annually in 200,000 Canadian children's lives. Caseworkers are equipped with immense powers and authority that can be easily misused unless there is vigilant restraint or monitoring. One can be a recent social work graduate and be authorized to enter someone's home without a warrant, apprehend a child without due process being completed and even able to appropriate police to enforce the procedure. A caseworker may require children to be clothed to a certain standard, fed, medicated and educated in a manner specified by the caseworker. Parents who do not comply may risk losing child custody, even visitation of their kids or have their children removed permanently. Families are being traumatized by caseworkers to a degree that it is nothing short of a distortion of the very system designed to prevent abuse. The Bayne family of two adults and three children have experienced this and countless other families as well to whose stories some comments on this blog have alluded. This blog and the comments written by others make a case for harnessing these agencies that are out of control.

Child Welfare agencies violate privacy and rights of individuals. Newborns have been taken from parents who are considered intellectually deficient; or from religious families whose faith in the Bible instructs them to corporal punishment; or homeschooling parents have been required to enroll their children in public school on the threat of removal. Provincial agencies have the power to intervene when children are considered “at risk” of abuse or neglect even if none of this has actually occurred. Then we hear of the cases, far too many, where the children that are removed experience treatment that is far worse than what was alleged to have happened in their homes.

When the swine flu was the big scare one mother kept her children home from school for one week after which someone lodged a complaint and a caseworker showed up to pull the children out of class to be questioned and then threatened the protesting mother that they might seize her school age children as well as two toddlers at home. Hundreds of incidents reported by parents testify to receiving threats that their children will be apprehended. Threat is one of the tools in the arsenal for silencing the objections.

There can be little or no public scrutiny of cases. Media is blocked from reporting details or questioning case workers. Always these limitations are said to be set to protect the children. We are learning that this government agency is capable of error in judgment yet the public cannot scrutinize cases because of these limitations. Judge Thomas Crabtree ruled against a ban on information proceeding from the court hearing concerning the Baynes or you would know almost nothing about them.

And if you care to read an alarming National Post article from 2009 which inspired today's post then go to this online article by Kevin Liblin, National Post June 12, 2009 entitled 'Children's Aid Society Workers Should Be Reined In, Critics say.

Friday, July 30, 2010

PIVOT LEGAL SOCIETY / Part 264 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Consider these thoughts please.
Since posting this today, a couple of comments by others cause me to ask those of you reading this, whether you have had helpful or disappointing experiences with your appeal to Pivot.
"Outreach: At Pivot, we know that the fight for social justice can’t stop at the courthouse – real change happens when people come together to get things done. There are all kinds of ways that you can spread the word and mobilize others where you live, work, or go to school.”
"Act Now!: When important things are happening, speak out. Government and policy makers need to be held accountable and forced to act. Take action today! Send a postcard here.”
"Join the Movement: Join the growing numbers of people who are standing up for progressive social change! Get information about the issues that matter to you, keep up-to-date on breaking developments and events, and create ways to make change happen.”
"Events: Get together, celebrate successes, have fun, and build community. Whether you come out to one of our annual events or host your own party for Pivot, events are a great way to meet new people, get your friends involved, and become part of the movement for social change.”
"Donate: Your contribution puts power behind our campaigns and strengthens our hand giving us the necessary resources to overcome injustice and create a community of fairness and equality. You don’t have to be a high roller to make change happen – each contribution goes a long way.”

I surmise that most of you respond favourably to those sentiments. In light of the communications within the forum of this blog, you might be saying, “I want to be part of an effective voice for fairness and justice and equity.” All of the above statements were made on the home web page of PIVOT. I am not specifically promoting Pivot but I am agreeing with the convictions I read here.
It is worth your while to spend some time on the online pages of this organization to increase your own awareness and perhaps to generate some creative juices with regard to the changes that are required to turn our present Ministry of Children into one that deserves citation rather than complaint. Perhaps as well, a community of compassion can emerge for so many of you.

This excerpt is quoted from its website.
  • Pivot Legal Society is a non-profit legal advocacy organization located in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
  • Pivot's mandate is to take a strategic approach to social change, using the law to address the root causes that undermine the quality of life of those most on the margins. We believe that everyone, regardless of income, benefits from a healthy and inclusive community where values such as opportunity, respect and equality are strongly rooted in the law.
  • The basic concept underlying Pivot's name and mission is that a critical pressure point of social change is to be found at the lower edge of legal and social boundaries. By systematically challenging the attitudes and institutions of power that enable marginalization, Pivot strives to move us towards a more tolerant, inclusive and compassionate society.
  • By aggressively advancing the interests and defending the legal entitlements of the most disenfranchised, Pivot aims for a "trickle-up" effect of respect and acceptance that will ultimately benefit all.
Free Legal Help may be available at Pivot - This page informs you of the possibilities.

"The best test of a civilized society is the way in which it treats its most vulnerable and weakest members." Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, July 29, 2010

B.C. SUSPENDS PENILE SEX TESTS / Part 263 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Headline news Yesterday.
The CBC headline is “B.C. suspends penile sex tests on young offenders”
Warning: You may be offended by the description of a procedure in my blog today and if you think you might be offended, sign off now.
Proviso: You should not be offended but rather read on so that you can be offended by the Government of British Columbia who were responsible for allowing this procedure as yet one further evidence of the deficit in wisdom within so many departments responsible for helping Children, Youth and Families.

The test is called a penile plethysmograph, and its purpose is to assess young sex offenders and thereby to determine their risk of re-offending after treatment. In theory, that sounds reasonable. This is a male specific test because during the test a device is attached to a youth's penis. His genitals are covered with a sheet during the testing. The device is designed to measure physical sexual arousal. Theoretically the test will predict whether offenders have gained control of their deviant arousal patterns through treatment or if they have not learned how to suppress deviance and will be a strong risk for re-offending. Take into consideration we are discussing testing the libido response of adolescent males. As researchers in an adjoining room monitor the adolescent responses through one way glass, the subject is shown images of adults, youth, children and babies in various states of undress while simultaneously a story is read that describes sexual activity sometimes coercive or forced. If a stimulation effect is noted then a deduction is made that there is some form of sexual deviancy.

QUALITY RESEARCH, RIGHT? NOT! The reliability and validity of this procedure in clinical assessment have not been well established. The premise is clear enough. Show images to a youth that stimulate sexual fantasy or thought and they will accomplish precisely that. That's not research. That's natural. The fact is that the respondent male sexual response may be manifest whether the youth is deviant or not. What an inane quantum leap to assume deviancy from a natural response to titillating provocative scenes that you are responsible for placing before the subject. What a certain way to create yet another scenario of false allegation and injustice! And further, the researches themselves, jaded and experienced as they may be, experienced in life and sexual activity as they may be, may not respond to the same sexual stimuli as readily as a youth, but what if they themselves also experience some arousal on the other side of that one way glass? That aroused response would not attest to deviancy would it?

Here we go once again. The tests are conducted by Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services, part of the Ministry for Children and Family Development. (Go to the link above and explore the left column index). The psychiatric service comes under the authority of the ministry for Children and Family Services and on any given day, there are up to 1,300 B.C. youth aged 12 to 17 involved in the service, of which 75 to 125 are sex offenders. In the interest of protecting society and helping or penalizing the offenders within it, we have a ministry and professionals condoning a procedure that is inherently questionable, repugnant to many, improper even to many liberated and objective observers, then being discovered, disclosed, chided and embarrassed. Robert Holmes, the president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association revealed this practice this week demanded that the government intervene after it learned of the tests  (you will find a lot of reading at this BCCLA link).

When she learned this she jumped on it. Within hours of the provincial advocate for children and youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond raising concerns with senior ministry officials, the government suspended the sex testing. Yesterday she announced she would conduct a review and she said, "It is extremely upsetting to me, as a children's' representative....I doubt there's a judge in B.C. who has any idea that adolescents being referred to this service (by the courts) are being shown pornographic material while having a device attached to their penis... They have assured me this testing is not happening at the moment and they will not continue this testing until my office has completed a review of the matter. … I think we're going to look very carefully at the balancing of the rights of the youth, their vulnerability, the process that was used," she said. "Is this a necessary tool? Is it valuable? I think we're really going to have to look at all of the key issues with this." Of course Mary Polak must seek to explain what on earth her Ministry is thinking so she said, "The ministry relies on the advice of medical professionals and clinical practitioners with regard to research and therapeutic intervention as it relates to the treatment of youth who have committed — and have been found guilty of — serious sexual offenses.” She also said that she takes the concerns seriously and will co-operate with the review by the Representative for Children and Youth.

Here is the actual explanation of the science behind the penile plethysmograph as presented by the Forensic Psychology Centre in Brisbane.
American Psychiatric Association, have called the test unreliable. 

And if Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond needs a lead, here's one. The Supreme Court of Canada adopted the Daubert doctrine in R. v . J.-L.J. [2000] 2 S.C.R. 600, which upheld a lower court's decision to exclude testimony by a psychiatrist who had administered several tests on the accused, including a penile plethysmograph:
A level of reliability that is quite useful in therapy because it yields some information about a course of treatment is not necessarily sufficiently reliable to be used in a court of law to identify or exclude the accused as a potential perpetrator of an offence. In fact, penile plethysmography has received a mixed reception in Quebec courts: Protection de la jeunesse – 539, [1992] R.J.Q. 1144; R. c. Blondin, [1996] Q.J. No. 3605 (QL) (S.C.); L. Morin and C. Boisclair in "La preuve d'abus sexuel: allégations, déclarations et l'évaluation d'expert" (1992), 23 R.D.U.S. 27. Efforts to use penile plethysmography in the United States as proof of disposition have largely been rejected: People v. John W., 185 Cal.App.3d 801 (1986); Gentry v. State, 443 S.E.2d 667 (Ga. Ct. App. 1994); United States v. Powers, 59 F.3d 1460 (4th Cir. 1995); State v. Spencer, 459 S.E.2d 812 (N.C. App. 1995); J. E. B. Myers et al., "Expert Testimony in Child Sexual Abuse Litigation" (1989), 68 Neb. L. Rev. 1, at pp. 134-35; J. G. Barker and R. J. Howell, "The Plethysmograph: A Review of Recent Literature" (1992), 20 Bull. Am. Acad. of Psychiatry & L. 13.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

B.C. suspends penile sex tests on young offenders

Expect my post on this one tomorrow morning 12:01 AM
Meanwhile CBC online article informs you.

USE THE MEDIA TO TELL YOUR STORY / Part 262 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Thanks to one of the numerous Anonymous writers of comments I was updated with regard to the Flagg family and I want to insure that you know the rest of the story. I wrote about the Flaggs earlier. You can read my pieces 219 and 220. In Post 251 I encouraged you to read Leah Flagg's blog and sign the petition for reform which she was advocating. I can only hope she will continue this effort now that her own dilemma is over.

Kathy Tomlinson does a commendable job of researching and writing stories in her Go Public CBC feature. She has written about the Baynes in the past on a couple of occasions (1) and (2) and stays in touch with this case. You can be sure that when the Baynes are awarded their children this year, that she will be all over this story. Let's hope that Judge Crabtree also censures MCFD so suprremely that Kathy can spread this flame into an inferno for reform of that which is systemically defective within our Ministry of Children.

Here is the Flagg Family Update from her article “Family gets children back” July 5, 2010, CBC Go Public. All of the yellow font is Kathy's manuscript.
“Leah and Steve Flagg said their problems were also solved after speaking out. The Kamloops couple approached CBC Go Public in April, after they could find no help for their mentally ill adult son.
Leah and Steve Flagg got help for their mentally ill son, and their other children were returned to them.(CBC)
"What we have seen — since the story aired — is that with enough motivation our government can do for its people what it has promised," wrote Leah Flagg.

Flagg and her husband, Steve, had allowed their son to move back into their Kamloops home, even though his violent outbursts put their other children at risk.
Before that, the 19-year-old had been under the care of B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development. He was cut off from those services when he became an adult. His mother said she could find nowhere for him to live, so she brought him home.”
The ministry responded by putting the Flaggs' other three children in foster care. The parents spoke publicly about how this had devastated the family.

"A Ministry of Housing and Social Development manager called us the morning after the story aired," Flagg said. "She has been working closely with me ever since . … With her help, we obtained housing [for the son], and his disability benefits were not delayed.
"The last of [our children] returned to us full time shortly after the story aired, and legal custody is being returned to us.
"We hope to encourage other families to pursue complaints and advocate for change … which will enable greater accountability."

If you have a family situation for which publicity might become a resource that produces a good outcome for you, contact Kathy Tomlinson. She welcomes all such contacts. Submit your story ideas to Kathy Tomlinson at Go Public.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CHRIS MARTELL-DEATH OF A SON / Part 261 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Perhaps you will feel compelled to help Chris Martell and his family.
Chris Martell is committed to the discovery of the facts concerning his son's tragic death. Evander Lee Daniels died in a horrific way on Tuesday June 8th 2010, so Chris' sorrow and loss is very fresh and raw. My first reference to this horror was in a bulletin post on June 29 entitled Chris Martell. The facts came from CBC and Star Phoenix accounts in Saskatoon. Today's information concentrates on some of Chris' own recent comments to my blog post. It is a complex story. Another CBC story. Jeanette Stewart of The StarPhoenix also wrote articles on June 24th and June 25th.

Chris doesn't want his son's death to be quickly forgotten like a closed file in the Ministry's office. It is not sufficient to simply accept the coroner's verdict of “death by drowning.” Technically that may be appropriate but there is more to this story. This is the way Chris tells his story.

The coroner released this little boy's body to Chris on Friday of that week with a media release that there was extensive type burns which may have contributed to the death. Disturbed by what they saw, the operators of the funeral home summoned Chris to look at the infant's body because there was evidence of third degree burns over the entire body from face and head to toe with the exception of the diapered torso. As Chris himself describes it, because of the condition of the body and the way it had to be wrapped, a white screen was stretched over the casket for viewing that would not reveal all details of the child's fatal injuries.

Chris is unmarried. The mother of his child Evander experienced a not uncommon post birth depression and was unable immediately to care for the child. Since Chris was an enlisted soldier with the U.S. Army, the infant was kindly cared for by a cousin and her husband. When Evander was one year old, Chris returned on leave and during this time he and the boy's mother had a domestic dispute that resulted in a charge issued against him which prevented him from leaving Canada to return to U.S. military duty. Chris explains that because he did not have $5000 for a lawyer to fight what he says was a false charge, he chose to plead guilty and was sentenced to eight months of anger management. He was unaware that the caregiver gave the boy to Social Services because the plan was for the mother who had recovered from her depression and dependencies, to apply for custody of her own son. Chris was alarmed to learn that Evander was in A foster home in Aberdeen, SK which he discovered already had four foster children under the age of three and five children in total. Social Services appeared to make a decision that warrants criticism because it stated that a Native family with three children is overcrowded whereas the non native home mentioned above with five was not considered overcrowded. Social services assured Chris that the boy's safety was not a concern in what SS considered a safe home. Both Chris' extended family and the mother's extended family were considering how to care for Evander. Chris was in favour of letting the boy's mother have a chance to raise the child. The plan was for the birth mother's sister to take the boy until the mother received approval. Meanwhile Chris appealed for a court order for visits to his son.

On the day Evander died, Chris and the birth mother were meeting to discuss with officials why the process was taking so long to arrange. It was already too late.
Chris wants a lawyer to do an inquiry to ascertain the extent of what he perceives as obvious negligence that caused death, both from the aspect of the foster care facility and the Social Services' assessment of the home. To raise money to finance that inquiry he publicized a 150 kilometre walk from Saskatoon to Prince Albert SK. That's what caught the attention of news media earlier. He is scheduling another 125 km walk from Saskatoon to North Battleford on August 5th concluding on the 6th, Evander's birthday. In spite of the news coverage and Facebook publicity people have not responded generously and he has raised only $2500 but Chris is grateful to the donors.

I am asking you to consider giving to a Trust Fund.

Chris has informed me that Donations to this cause for an inquiry will be administered by the highly respected lawyer Donald E. Worme, Q.C., I.P.C. He serves as the Trust Fund Trustee. I have learned that Mr. Worme is a member of the Kawacatoose First Nation and practices extensively in criminal law and Aboriginal rights litigation. Donald is a founding member and member in good standing with the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada, a national association of Aboriginal lawyers, where he served as President between 1989 and 1991. He received his Queen’s Counsel appointment in December of 2002 and the Indigenous Peoples Counsel (IPC) appointment in October 2006. Don has been an active Member of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal since 2001 and is mandated to review decisions and human rights complaints. Don has been selected as one of the top 100 alumni of influence as part of a celebration of achievement at the 100th anniversary of the University of Saskatchewan.

Donations may be sent to the AFFINITY CREDIT UNION, 3315c Fairlight Dr., Saskatoon Saskatchewan, S7M 3Y5, Phone: 934-4000 Fax: 934-5496, for the Evander Daniels or Chris Martell Account - Account #1082122. 

Chris Martell will welcome your email communication if you wish to encourage him or to ask him questions to which he can reply. Write him at He also appeals to you to join one or both Facebook pages, one that is Chris' and the other dedicated to his son Evander Lee Daniels Group.

YouTube, a pictorial tribute to Evander Lee Daniels using 'Amazing Grace' music as background. 
Chris speaks to us about his need to raise funds.
The Aboriginal Multi Media Society,staff writer Isha Thompson has written Chris's story in SAGE, Saskatcehwan's Aboriginal News Publication.

Monday, July 26, 2010

SBS - TRIAD OF SYMPTOMS / Part 259 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

SBS – based on a diagnostic triad of symptoms

Shaking an infant is a reprehensible action. We commend and support every effort to reduce the risks to children by caregivers who do not know how to understand the baby’s needs or cope with a baby’s cries and behaviour.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a medical diagnosis based on the presence of a diagnostic triad: (1) retinal bleeding, (2) bleeding in the protective layer of the brain, and (3) brain swelling. Baby B had at least two of these.  She was a sick baby girl. A well informed doctor when faced with an injured child with no evidence of physical abuse other than the triad of SBS symptoms will consider it his/her duty to be cautious for the sake of both the child and the parents. A respected pediatrician from Vancouver Children’s Hospital diagnosed Baby B as a Shaken Baby. (Possibly Baby B did not have the third factor of the triad - brain swelling. Her head did swell six centimeters prior to a delayed CT scan, yet in court Dr. Colbourne herself said Baby B's actual brain was not swollen. Baby B had a build up of blood and spinal fluid due to a three week delay which caused her head to grow, but the brain swelling itself is negligible.)

Presently, reporting regulations require that when retinal hemorrhages and subdural hematomas are discovered in a child, the child is immediately referred to protective services. A mitigating factor must be a believable story from the parent or care giver. If the story cannot be corroborated and if it is merely a story about a household mishap rather than a motor vehicle accident or something similarly unfortunate, SBS is the assumed assessment. Reports appear to indicate that little or no consideration was given to her premature birth and the bone fragility and chemical deficiencies consequent to that. (Bethany was born early at 34 weeks resulting in some bone deficiency. Upon birth she had feeding challenges, nutritionally anemic with concern about Vitamin D deficiency, losing some weight and being fed by a tube and needing to stay in hospital for two weeks prior to release.)

Typically, charges will not be laid if the story is supported by a credible witness or two. If that story is not convincing, then the SBS diagnosis is applied and the caregiver is put under suspicion and possibly charged. A Shaken Baby has to have a shaker, and the immediate question is who would be the most likely shaker? One or both of the parents, perhaps. The child will not receive further testing for alternative causes.

With that background data it was reasonable that the Bayne children were taken from the parents in order to protect the children. The Ministry discounted the Bayne’s story of an accidental fall of one child on to their baby girl. The accident scenario was reported and recorded in medical records at various hospitals and clinics over three weeks following the accident. A later CT scan of Baby B's head confirmed internal bruising precisely at the spot on her head which Zabeth had identified as the area of contact between brother and sister. The attendant physician verified that this bruise was consistent with a contusion at that head location.

That was then. Zabeth and Paul must have looked alarmed and frantic while being subjected to interrogation, arrest, criminal charge and, fingerprinting. Then the charges were dropped and RCMP extended a wish of ‘good luck.’  You don’t put on your best face during a crisis like that. In the days, weeks and months that followed, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) was inundated with letters speaking to the parents’ character, integrity and reliability. Would those references be enough to counter the unexplained head trauma? Not at all. A primary social worker said in court that he had not read them.

• MCFD pursued an unsubstantiated allegation, let’s call it a suspicion that Baynes shook their baby girl.
• SBS is unproven among biomechanic specialists and pathologists as a valid scientific finding.
• The SBS diagnosis of a Child Protection doctor who examined baby Bayne was challenged by ten prominent medical experts who communicated with the Baynes and whose reports were filed with the MCFD and its lawyer.
• The validity of SBS Shaken Baby Syndrome is being questioned in courts internationally.
• Some courts are banning the use of SBS as a prosecutorial cause and are overturning previous convictions.
• MCFD treatment of Paul and Zabeth appears to demonstrate an intention to permanently remove the Bayne children from their birth parents.

The reliability of an SBS diagnosis however, has become progressively more doubtful as research has increased. In the early 2000’s SBS skeptics emerged particularly with regard to SBS’s legitimacy as a diagnosis when used within the court for prosecution purposes and the number of skeptics has created into a reform movement in the United States and in Canada.

How prolific must misdiagnoses be in North America that innocent people and advocates for innocent people feel compelled to create an entire defence program and a website to assist one another to overcome invasive assaults by government children’s’ agencies. While ostensibly created to protect children, in more cases than any of us desire to know, such agencies through ill advised decisions have destroyed entire families and squander children’s’ futures because the right decisions were not made.

Here is a website called Shaken Baby Syndrome Defense. It wouldn’t exist apart from the appalling quantity of parents and caregivers who have been suspected, charged, convicted and sentenced wrongfully for shaking a baby, when in fact the physical symptoms being flagged have been misdiagnosed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

MEDIATION / Part 258 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

MCFD versus Baynes resumes at the Chilliwack Court House on August 8th. Isn't the word 'versus' reprehensible in the context of a family?  It is technically an inquiry rather than a trial but the terminology is merely legal correctness. It has been an inquiry to establish before a Judge the fitness or unsuitability of the Baynes as parents of the three children born to them. It is on the other hand an inquiry as to whether the Ministry of Children and Family Development have acted reasonably and justly in their handling of the case, of the children and of the relationship one should expect the MCFD to develop with the birth parents. The Baynes have contested all along that they did no violence against their infant child of six weeks, now two years and nine months old. But if they had, should it not be our expectation as citizens, that our Ministry of Children and Family Development would do all that it can possibly do to restore and repair and redeem parents, to restore family. Nothing like that has happened. MCFD’s posture toward the Baynes has been adversarial from the get go. The hard copy assessment sheets, the reports, the testimonies now in court reflect this posture.

Did it need to come to this? As taxpayers we should be able to confidently assume that it wouldn’t come to this unless birth parents were verifiably sadistic, immoral and criminal. After all, mercy and mediation are in the vocabulary of the MCFD in theory and on paper. MCFD offers a Mediation Program. This is what MCFD says about their own program.
“The Ministry of Children and Family Development and Ministry of Attorney General partnered in 1997 to establish the Child Protection Mediation Program. Where there is a disagreement between MCFD and parents or other persons concerning the safety and well-being of a child the parties can agree to use mediation to resolve issues, rather than go to court. Common issues include:
• what services the family will receive and participate in as part of a plan of care,
• the length of time the child will be in the ministry's care,
• the amount and form of access parents or others have with the child,
• the specific terms of a supervision or access order, and
• other matters relating to the care or welfare of the child.”
It further states: “The Ministry of Children and Family Development is committed to a presumption in favour of collaborative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation and family group conferencing, as a first choice for child welfare decision making rather than proceedings in Provincial Court.”
“For more information about the Child Protection Mediation Program, visit the Dispute Resolution Office website or the Ministry of Children and Family Development website.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

JUSTICE / Part 257 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

An original song entitled ‘Justice’ written by Tom Simanek and Rob Elliott is performed by Rob Elliott in dedication to the struggle to reunite families that have been shattered by the family courts. A video using this song’s lyrics has been prepared by Linda McDermott, Dave Ellison, Shaun O'Connell, Layton Bevan and Julia Langmaid. You can listen and watch this on YouTube at this link.


The race-car bed is empty,
no toys are on the floor,
not many changes you can see...
but Johnny doesn't live here,
doesn't live here any more...
never coming through that door.

Feel what I feel
my heart bleeds...
Show me mercy,
hear me plead...
Give me justice,
give me justice,
It's what I need.

A scrap of legal paper,
an expert testifies,
the child you love is taken...
but justice doesn't live here,
doesn't live here, it's a lie...
nothing you can do but cry.

Feel what I feel
my heart bleeds...
Show me mercy,
hear me plead...
Give me justice,
give me justice,
It's what I need.

A judgement not of Solomon,
no wisdom in the words,
and after all is said and done...
your Johnny doesn't live here,
doesn't live here and what's worse...
nothing lives here but the hurt.
Nothing lives here but the hurt.

Feel what I feel
my heart bleeds...
Show me mercy,
hear me plead...
Give me justice,
give me justice,
It's what I need.

copyright 2009 Simanek/Elliott

Friday, July 23, 2010

THE DREAM IS ALIVE / Part 256 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

This is a family of five. Only the number of family members is the same as the Bayne family. This family however, is unsupervised and unrestricted by the seeming invasionary interference of MCFD. The spontaneity and independence of this pictured family is what the Baynes dream about - living together, hand in hand, happy, free, walking away from a dark nightmare. And contrary to the predictable false suggestions of MCFD workers, these children (the two boys who can remember life at home) are eager to GO HOME.

Paul and Zabeth are road warriors already. After all it has been two years and nine months that they have been deprived of their children. Their youngest child was two months old when she was removed from her home and from her parents' custody and care. That inordinate length of time will factor surely into the case their attorney makes against B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development. Some within the Ministry assume a level of authority beyond even the seeming excessive power that has been granted to the Ministry in order to protect children. It has already been shown in the court case thus far and it will become blatantly obvious in the case conclusion, that the Ministry has strided far past its generous permissions in its hard treatment of the Baynes.

Paul and Zabeth have steeled themselves to the indignities they suffer on a weekly basis so that they will not jeopardize the little amount of time that they are permitted to have with their own children. They have had to be so careful. Their time with the children, three hours on each of two afternoons per week, is closely scrutinized. This scrutiny comes from the person who drives the vehicle that transports the children. This driver is not a Ministry employee but works for an independent company which is contracted by the Ministry. The driver makes notes throughout the three hours while watching the five Baynes play, pray, sing, laugh, embrace. The driver has been carefully instructed to record conduct and behaviour of parents with children, attitude, comments made. These notes are provided to the Ministry for their file on these parents. This driver employee polices the Bayne parents by censuring harmless actions or activities under threat that non compliance will result in removal of visitation privilege.

This court case is active. The next series of Court Days are scheduled for August 8-13 at the Chilliwack Court House.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

LIFE IS TOO PRECIOUS TO SQUANDER / Part 255 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

My own life is almost spent. Sure I may have many years to live. Yet my energetic working years are done. The strong blond man of my high school and college years lives only in pictures seldom viewed by anyone. My children now in their own mid years don’t remember me in my youth. In their minds they have only grown accustomed to the ‘me’ with escalating limitations. Their children will always know me ‘old.’ Papa and Grandpa I am.

I am not complaining mind you. This is life. It’s good. There are large measures of joy and satisfaction attached to this personal definition of life in Canada. Last evening I went to White Rock with three of my grandchildren to enjoy an ice cream cone at Andy's. We walked one the rocks near the water, skipped stones on the surface, and laughed.

That’s why the wounded lives of Paul and Zabeth Bayne and their children K, B and Baby B have troubled me so much and for so long. That's why the Court Case, the result of which will determine whether the children can come back to their parents or whether they must be forced to become adopted children to adoptive parents, is one of the most important events in B.C. right now. That's the way I see it anyway. It is only one family of course. However, this single case forecasts the likelihood of an overhaul of the structure, protocol, personnel and policies of this beleaguered child protection agency. It is unthinkable that the Judge's conclusion might greenlight further injustices to more innocent parents and children as zeal and power without wisdom decides the lives of citizens.

The Baynes should not be enduring this broken family unit, the financial ruin, the daily tears, the eyes of three children filled with worry and doubt about so many things that should not harass a child in Canada.

Justice needs to be served on a silver platter to this family so that what remains of three children’s formative years will be spent in the affectionate and daily embrace of parents who love them so tenaciously that they will plead ardently until the custody of their children is restored to them. They will also unceasingly declare their innocence. Innocent, they will never admit to a guilt that is implied by a two and one half year old medical diagnosis of baby B with which a long list of medical professionals disagree. This court case, painfully lengthy, will validate the Baynes as worthy parents who have suffered an incalculably horrific two and a half year travesty of human rights, freedom and justice. Court resumes August 8-13th.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

THE PRISON OF SHAME / Part 254 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

The lives of many social workers involved in child protection are sprinkled with satisfaction and regret. The regrets are sometimes crushing. Regrets may evolve from actions or failures to act. Some social workers spend sleepless nights. A therapist might counsel such people to move on because this is life. It is not so easily done. Some regrets are intensified as time passes because the circumstances created by action or inaction have become infected for the affected people. At these times social workers experience deep regret or sadness and this can have a profound effect upon their lives and their well being.

Some things can be done when feeling one’s saddest. It’s important to honestly decide how much blame should be attached to your role or your action or inaction. Assess whether you could also claim credit for some positive action. Can the situation created by your part be remedied? Would an apology help and would it be enough? If it could be sufficient then genuinely make that apology. A letter is definitely superior to an email message and best of all is a face to face meeting. Beyond this a public apology may be advisable, appropriate, and necessary. May amends be made? Might it require your resignation? Might this take the form of advocating for parents and families who are being injured by actions similar to those that have become your prison?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WADDIFS AND HOWELLS / Part 253 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

I believe that there are social workers who have been connected with the Bayne case who have at times wondered whether they might have handled aspects of this case differently than they did. At the start their office was given a call from the child protection unit of the Children's Hospital. There was an infant girl whose injuries were severe and it was suspected that they were caused by shaking – not may have been caused by shaking but were unmistakably caused by shaking. The social workers responded as they should by going to investigate and then by making a speedy decision to protect the child from the risk of further injury. It was customary to also remove two siblings under the age of five because if one was at risk from one or the other of the two parents, the two other children might also be in jeopardy.

Yet that was only the beginning. There followed mediation meetings when progress seemed negligible because parents would not admit to harming their child and no questioning or coercion could extract that admission. The RCMP dismissed the adequacy of evidence sufficient to proceed with a charge of assault or abuse. The social workers committed themselves to gaining that admission and without that admission no kind of plan or help was forthcoming. Social workers and parents became adversaries. Altruistic spirit, compassion, concern for what the parents were experiencing did not occur at the time. The parents were, or at least one of them was viewed by MCFD as perpetrators responsible for injuring a child. Certainly MCFD had come under fire in recent reviews because ministry responses had come too late to save some children from harm that proved fatal. It is understandable that the Director did not want to repeat such a debacle in his region.

Yet as these months and now years have passed by, as media coverage from time to time has dramatized the claims of the parents that their infant was misdiagnosed and they have been placed falsely under suspicion as abusers, there has been increasing reason for many hundreds of people to believe that this is a miscarriage of justice. The Ministry however was committed initially to the medical diagnosis by a doctor from Children's Hospital and has staunchly maintained that position which means that the Baynes can never deliver themselves from the blacklist of parents who do not deserve their parents. There is a great deal of evidence now that the Ministry has made every effort to cast the parents in the worst possible light by the reports that describe them. That's the way it appears to some of us who observe from outside the system.

I think however that there are social workers who have been second guessing their involvement in this family story. They have followed the directives of their Director in the interpretation of observations and reports and writing of affidavits. I believe there are social workers who wonder even now What If (Waddif) we had done things differently, and How Will (Howell) we make this right? I think consciences are working overtime with regret.

Oh of course there are myriad waddifs and howells now.
Waddif the children are awarded to Paul and Zabeth and they must be returned immediately?
Howell the Director and our lawyer respond?
Waddif the Judge castigates the way MCFD handled our case with the Baynes and mentions specific people by name?<
Howell my peers, friends and family respond to this?
Waddif the censure by the Judge is so pronounced that a recommendation for overhauling the Fraser Region of MCFD is made as part of the ruling?
Howell this affect my job?
Waddif the law permits the Baynes to sue the Ministry and sue individuals into oblivion?
Howell I defend myself and how will I come out of this?

Monday, July 19, 2010


Over 81,000 hits to the blog to date, 10,000 per month recently. Thanks for the interaction and exposure. Let your local newspapers and journalists hear about some of the posts and comments.

MOMMA RACOON AND THREE BABIES / Part 252 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

We have been witnessing the feeding of a family of four racoons. There must be a fifth racoon somewhere, but he is an absentee father. I am content that they do not live in my backyard or under my decks and I am reasonably sure now that they do not live in my neighbours' yards either. They are fence walkers, and they travel through our community I believe from a large green-space nearby in order to find food. So in our neighbour's yard to the rear of us is a towering wild cherry tree which has attracted these racoons. They climb high into the branches and reach with dexterity using their hand like paws to grasp cherries. When they see us they stop and consider the situation, analyzing whether we are a threat. Momma is particularly watchful and from behind her black mask she determines whether her offspring are safe or vulnerable. Tiny chirping sounds emanate from her which the babies understand. One evening we were too close I think because her message sent the little masked marvels scampering up the tree where all four sat for almost an hour. I worried that the small ones might lose their grips and fall to the ground. Momma came to each one, touched noses and ascertained that all was well. Finally they descended and moved on for the night. This has gone on for many days and today I noticed how much the little ones had grown.

All of my grandchildren have seen the racoons, so have our neighbours and their children. When our own children and grandchildren are with us, close to us, within our care, we can do such simple activities – like watching a family of racoons and talking about it. We take this autonomy for granted.

The inherent freedom of parents to nurture their children, to enjoy a backyard BBQ, to throw a frisbee or lawn bowl, to sip a cool drink or to run around until so tired that falling asleep in their own beds at home is natural, has been withdrawn and withheld from Paul and Zabeth Bayne. If this continues three more months it will be three years of private family moments that have been missed. Paul and Zabeth did not choose to be absentee parents.

What might you think of me if I were to trap the three small animals and remove them to Redwood Park but leave Momma Racoon to wander fences in my neighbourhood? The analogy doesn't work does it? I might be doing something humane. The other action is not.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

RAISE THE FLAGG / Part 251 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

I encourage you to peruse Leah Gainer/Flagg's blog site.

She too is rallying awareness to the issues that surround MCFD methods and practice and she is going a step further. She wants you to sign a petition in support of reforming MCFD.

Leah will tell her own story about the impact of MCFD's incompetent policies and practice in her blog. I have related this story myself. You can read my pieces 219 and 220. She has initiated a petition to enlist your signature encouraging our government to consider the need to reform MCFD. There are presently only 202 signatures listed. Please look it over. She has drafted a statement addressed to Premier Campbell, Minister Mary Polak. If you can agree with it, add your signature. On her site Leah provides a number of other links that you may want to follow. She includes a reference to Paul and Zabeth and their children.

Here is the petition page. "Reform B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development"

Here is one of the CBC stories on this family. This one entitled “Children taken because of mentally ill brother” is written by Kathy Tomlinson. In it she explains what is behind the Flagg's claim that lack of government help for their son put their other children at risk.
A CBC Video gives you another perspective on their story. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I AM DISGUSTED / Part 250 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

It is systemic. It appears to me that once child services has begun an action with a specific child, the social working mechanics are programmed to defend that action against all incoming evidence that should actually demand a course change. I am disgusted by what I have learned about the MCFD modus operandi in just one specific case – the Baynes.

In developing an interest in one family's horror I have been exposed to an embarrassing excess of similar sounding cases. Embarrassing not to me or the parents and children whose lives are forever altered by operational decisions, but mortifying for a public ministry whose job it is to protect and to serve children and to assist and to develop parents and families. So many decisions are made for what seem to be right reasons yet the decisions have not been affected by compassion, mercy, and unbending pursuit of truth. I know this ministry must deal with some reprehensible conduct by caregivers. I know that there are parents whose unaddressed personal life issues make them irredeemable as caregivers to children. I understand that the dirty side of society requires a steely approach to aspects of child welfare and child protection. Nevertheless it is inexcusable that so many good people, both parents and children should be damaged by an insensitive system and the people who manage it. It is insupportable that many social workers whose instincts are unselfish and tenderhearted are obliged by superiors to conduct their work against their own consciences.

I hear of increasing numbers of cases in which this ministry while fulfilling a mandate to care for and to protect children, has demonstrated callous disregard for parents' statements, feelings, rights or opinions. I have registered my surprise at times. Many of these parents who have experienced what they describe as venomous treatment by MCFD social workers and superiors have called me naive. Admittedly I have found it difficult to accept that so many government employees within a ministry could have strayed so far from pure altruism. People in whom I had confidence that they were serving and helping my community, my friends, my fellow citizens have proven to be untrustworthy. Something inside me has died. A level of trust is gone. I am deeply saddened by this. And I am dismayed that in researching child services around the world, I have brushed up against countless similar distortions of justice. It is systemic. It is a societal malignancy.

We have been dancing courteously in speaking about the Ministry and the officers and social workers within it for a very long time. I am convinced that it must happen, that stretched facts, misrepresented pieces of information, subjective opinions, spiteful decisions, broken promises, concealed truths must be revealed. Fingers must be pointed and charges laid, and case actions taken and penalties awarded against people within our public ministry.

Friday, July 16, 2010

NEWS NETWORK ARTICLE / Part 249 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

A news network asked me to submit a summary of the Bayne Campaign for Justice. The article below appeared in a recent July 2010 online edition of BC Christian News.
ZABETH BAYNE was a concert pianist.

Soon she would lose her piano.

She and her husband Paul would lose their home, in payment of legal expenses.

These expenses were incurred as they sought to reverse their greatest misfortune: the loss of their children.

I met Paul and Zabeth in 2000, when they attended the Cloverdale church I was pastoring.

I did pre-marital counselling with them, and officiated at their wedding ceremony.

I found them to be serious, conservative, spiritually keen Christians, whom I was glad to know. When I relocated in 2001 we lost touch with one another.

In autumn 2009, I learned about their story of sadness and loss. Believing they were telling the truth, I began to advocate for them with a daily blog called GPS.

The Baynes enjoyed an almost idyllic life with three children and a new home, in a quiet area of Hope – until autumn 2007, when it all came apart.

Paul and Zabeth are birth parents of three children, who have not lived with them for two and a half years. The Baynes had two sons, and then their daughter was born.

An in-home accident on September 23, 2007 is the only trauma to which the parents can point when assessing the cause for the injuries and health issues that compelled them to take their daughter for medical intervention.

As the seven week old infant lay on a blanket on the floor, one small sibling tumbled on top of her. Initially, the baby experienced no apparent distress. Within hours, she was vomiting, dehydrated, listless and not feeding.

Urgent but inconclusive visits to clinics and hospitals in Hope and Abbotsford led to the Vancouver Children’s Hospital on  September 26.

While the incident happened to the youngest child, all three children were apprehended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and RCMP October 22 – on the strength of a report from the Hospital’s Child Protection Unit and a diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).

At that time, the MCFD action was standard and appropriate procedure. The RCMP arrested both parents; following a brief investigation, the Baynes were released. RCMP concluded there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges of complicity in harming the child.

The Ministry, however, viewed the parents with suspicion – basing its position on one doctor’s diagnosis. This diagnosis has been disputed by 12 other experts.

Paul and Zabeth have asserted their innocence from the start, and have accordingly been deemed as uncooperative. Without further evidence – yet still convinced that the parents pose a risk ­– the MCFD has placed the children in foster care.

The Baynes have been less than passive in contesting for custody. They have written letters to the Premier, the Minister of MCFD, the Ombudsman, MLAs and the media –   explaining their dilemma and inviting help.

Hundreds of acquaintances and family members have also sent letters of confidence and support for the Baynes to the MCFD in Victoria, and the Fraser Regional offices.

Global TV and CBC (both regional and national) ran stories in 2009.
A support network has held several quiet, placard-holding demonstrations outside Premier Campbell’s Vancouver office.

The Baynes have conducted extensive research, obtaining medical opinions that dispute SBS – and that present alternative diagnoses. Noted  legal counsel Doug Christie, has made himself available to defend them.

Judge Thomas James Crabtree, newly appointed Chief Justice of B.C., recently ordered MCFD to give the Baynes extended visitation opportunities with their children.
The conclusion of their court hearing is scheduled for August 9 – 13. There is every hope that Judge Crabtree  will return their children to them.

That is not what the Ministry of Children and Family Development want.

The director of the Fraser Region of MCFD has applied for a Continuing Care Order – which, if granted, would mean the children could be placed with adoptive parents.

It could also mean that Paul and Zabeth Bayne might never see their children again.

Dr. Ron Unruh is a retired pastor and denominational executive, now expressing himself as a visual artist and an author. His blog for the Baynes can be found at this online address:
Article written for the BC Christian News,  which is part of the broader news network Canadian Christianity

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I will post no new statements for the next two days.

I do however encourage you to add a comment here about the Baynes or the services of family court or the Ministry of Children and Family Development, or about your own family life story.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

PERFORMANCE MEASURES / Part 248 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

At its website page entitled PERFORMANCE MEASURES, MCFD has placed a couple of paragraphs informing us of the performance measures in place within the ministry. I admit that my difficulty is to suppress my cynical filter sufficiently to read these words without a bias for children safely nurtured within the homes of biological parents. So, even as my mind processes this MCFD webpage I view its content as a protection, preservation and promotional piece.
“Performance Measures”
“The Ministry of Children and Family Development is accountable to our clients and the public. We continually monitor our performance to track our progress and use the information to improve outcomes for the children, youth and families we serve and our programs and services. Improved performance and enhanced quality assurance are at the centre of our commitment to ensure children and families are strong, safe and supported to reach their full potential.”
“This report documents, in one place, seventeen measures that the Ministry of Children and Family Development has committed to report publicly. This is a first step in implementing a commitment made by the Ministry in the 2010/11 – 2012/13 Service Plan. We will add additional performance measures each year that will monitor our progress and help us along the path of continual improvement.”
Public Reporting of Performance Measures – March 2010
This public reporting contains much that may be of interest to you. Here are a couple observations.
  1. Of all the calls received by the Ministry each year regarding protection concerns, approximately 30,000 will lead to a protection report. Information about protection reports is available on the ministry’s website.
  2. The percentage of children in ministry care under a Continuing Care Order that are expected to remain in Foster Care until age 19 rather than being adopted or living with relatives is 34.9 %.
  3. The percentage of children who “aged-out” from Ministry care, (turned nineteen years of age), that applied for income assistance within six months is 44.1%.
  4. The percentage of children in the long term care of the Ministry who are in the expected school grade for their age is 78.9%.
  5. The percentage of children under a continuing custody order during their grade eight year who go on to complete the requirements for high school graduation within six years is an appalling 28.2% in 2009.
  6. In 2009, of the 8908 children in care, seven children or youth died.
We are still waiting for August 8-13, 2010 when the hearing under Judge Crabtree resumes in Chilliwack Court House, for final presentations by MCFD and by Paul and Zabeth Bayne's counsel, Mr. Doug Christie. The Baynes are naturally contesting a Continuing Care Order application by MCFD. The outcome we hope for is the return of three children to Paul and Zabeth after this almost three year separation.

Monday, July 12, 2010

ABSENTEE CHILDREN / Part 247 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Each day that Paul and Zabeth awake, they step past rooms in which their children's things are contained and because the children are gone, these clothes and toys are transformed into the signs of their absence. These lonely suffering people begin another day, like so many other days, hundreds of days. It takes their breath away. They start the day with a punch to the gut. Yet graciously the day may be one of the three each week during which three hours are allocated for them to visit with the children who no longer live in their home. The mornings cannot pass soon enough. These afternoon minutes are joy-filled, each treasured and remembered. Children fill Paul's and Zabeth's embrace, climb on their laps, sit astride Paul's shoulders, snuggle into Zabeth's neck. Always, always a supervisor sits as close to this action as possible to hear each verbal exchange, each endearment, each casual comment. A supervisor with the responsibility and the gall to remonstrate these parents if either does or says anything that has previously forbidden. The prohibition may pertain to a conversation topic or taking a child to the washroom. Even the brief snatches of family sanity and wholeness are moderated by an invasion of excessive control. On the other four days each week, Paul and Zabeth live with a reality that should only be a nightmare from which they can awake. The children are not there. They don't sit together for bowls of cereal. They don't ask mom and dad to take them to the beach. They don't make children's sounds at play. Their rooms are silent.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

WRONGFUL CONVICTION / Part 246 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Let's be clear about what has been transpiring in Chilliwack court case File 10073 that presently sits on hold until August 9-13th.  Judge Thomas Crabtree is hearing an application by the Ministry of Children and Family Development for a Continuing Care Order which will authorize the Director of the Fraser Region of the MCFD to permanently keep the three children of Paul and Zabeth Bayne in care until they are adopted by another family.

In order to win this ruling, MCFD is presenting a case that is nothing less than an attempt to wrongfully convict Paul and Zabeth of a criminal act. If you disagree with me, then tell me what I am missing in my appraisal. Please don't say, “the parents' guilt is missing from you assessment,” because guilt is the one thing for which neither you nor MCFD have evidence.

MCFD does not have a case because there is no proof that either Paul or Zabeth physically shook their youngest child, their infant daughter Baby B. If the contested shaken baby syndrome were an iron clad diagnosis, there would still be no evidence other than circumstantial that might implicate Paul or Zabeth. Nevertheless, in the autumn of 2007 following a frightening diagnosis by a reputable Vancouver pediatrician, MCFD was warranted to question the parents and others. The doctor notified MCFD that the baby's condition was consistent with being shaken. MCFD naturally assumed that a probable shaker was one or both parents. MCFD social workers were unconcerned when RCMP found insufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal charge, since the social workers' responsibility was simply to assess risk, not establish guilt. Because MCFD workers did not accept the Baynes' explanation of an accidental impact collision between a toddler brother and the infant sister who lay on a blanketed section of the floor, they have remained suspicious that Paul and Zabeth had caused harm to their child. Suspicion is sufficient legal reason to remove the child for its protection. It's in the child's best interests. The assumption was also made that if the parents are a risk to one child they may be a risk to the other two children. So removing all three children was in their best interests. So goes the rationale and so went the children.

From the initial weeks of this case the MCFD Fraser Region team has maintained a discriminatory opinion about the Baynes. Its legal presentation reveals that all acquired information for the past two and one half years has been processed through a bias and interpreted as corroboration of the Baynes' untrustworthiness and unfitness to parent. The MCFD risk assessment that was entered as evidence is a premier example since the template section which allows for recording positive features or attributes about Paul and Zabeth, was noticeably blank. In the mind of the social worker writing the assessment and director who approved it, this respectable, decent, principled, serious minded, morally and ethically upright, polite and courteous couple, had nothing for which to be commended. Even the fact that Zabeth is an accomplished concert pianist didn't reap a comment as gratuitous as “she plays the piano very well.” In fact under cross examination, the social worker author of the risk assessment admitted that of the hundreds of pieces of correspondence that had been sent by friends and acquaintances over many months to affirm the Baynes as good people and good parents, he had read none.

Already convinced about parental liability, social workers failed to ask greater questions about the reliability not of the pediatrician but of the Shaken Baby assessment, the consistency of the baby's medical conditions with other causes, the credibility of the opinions of the concerned few collaterals whom they solicited, the mechanical medical reasonableness of a domestic accident between siblings, the weight of affirming testimonials by close family members and friends. AND IF THESE SOCIAL WORKERS HAVE NEITHER THE TIME, NOR THE TRAINING AND EXPERTISE TO RESEARCH SUCH MATTERS, THEY ALSO DO NOT HAVE ANY BUSINESS ASSESSING RISK. Instead social workers sought to discover exculpatory connections of abuse within the extended families or of work related and medical stresses that would precipitate abusive behaviour. MCFD stretched whatever thin morsels there were into case content. Whether or not they harmed their child is of little importance when minds are already convinced that they are guilty.

MCFD lacks an evidentiary case against the Baynes. The MCFD attempts to pursue a wrongful conviction. Of course this is not a criminal case but MCFD is essentially seeking to prove that Paul and or Zabeth are criminally responsible for their baby's injuries. How could the parents otherwise be a risk to their children? MCFD must persuade the judge that founded on merely medical opinion, hearsay and suspicion but no evidence, a ruling is warranted that is tantamount to a guilty verdict against the Baynes. I don't think that they have succeeded. I pray that they have not succeeded.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

WHERE THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO PLACE / Part 245 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

In a child-centred legal system such as we have since the Child, Youth and Family Services Act was passed, what can be done to protect parental liberty?

Much of what I, the blogger and you, the commentators write each day, relates to the roles of the state and the family and the relationship between them. I have long been observing that the institutions of the family and marriage/common law unions, of education and schools, of personal rights and private property, of religion and church are strained? Funding a government as we do, now with a harmonized sales tax and personal income taxes and property taxes and assorted permits and taxes for recreational and commercial purposes, we expect some sophisticated services and we are privileged to enjoy many of them. It is discouraging and an explanation is deserved when with respect to families, parents and children, we learn that some fellow citizens are suffering great hardship at the hands of our government. I am convinced that it is appropriate to call for a renewed discussion of the proper role of the family in a free and democratic society and the relationship of the state to that family?

Our representatives have passed legislation that is designed to ensure that children will not be victims of abuse or neglect. Good! I believe that the state successfully protects some children. Many children are in better environments now that they have been taken from biological homes and parents who were unable to properly care for their children. As soon as I write that statement I know there are many of you who are insulted that I would give any credit to MCFD. I balance my statement with the admonition that the state must not encroach on the independence of the family. That is however, what in some cases, I believe the government is doing. It is not the state's responsibility to decide religion and ethical and moral values and diets and eating habits, and dress or any similar family decision. Yet on the merit of one call-in from a concerned onlooker, the state has begun investigations and interrogations that lead to that type of involvement. Parents in B.C. have found themselves floundering within a system where they cannot even tread water.

The best interests of the child is a laudable and important premise of law. Many of your personal experiences and your comments on this blog attest to the truth that government inquiries about parents and their children have extended far beyond the point of the child's safety or best interests. The time has arrived and perhaps the timing can be right for re-examining and then correcting the tension that exists between the state and the B.C. family. There are sufficient documented cases already for politicians and policy- makers to take positive steps to ensure that concerns about children’s welfare do not furnish opportunities for the state and the courts to intervene/interfere where they have no place.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Here is an interesting resource:

Parents' Rights, Kids' Rights: A Parent's Guide to Child Protection Law in BC

Explains what can happen if the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development has concerns about a child's safety and well-being or is planning to remove a child from the family home. Also provides detailed information about developing agreements with the ministry, what happens in court during child protection hearings, and what family members and advocates can do if they have concerns about a child's foster care or a complaint about a social worker.

Here it is in pdf format which you can review right now.

Legal Services Help

QUESTIONS POINTING TO FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS IN MCFD / Part 244 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

In autumn of 2007, each doctor in their respective medical disciplines sought to examine, assess, and report on Baby B's symptoms, injuries, condition and state of health, and to conduct this work as carefully and thoroughly as possible in the facilities where the observations were conducted.

Dr. Colbourne for example not only relied upon her own years of training and medical experience, but also trusted the independent and specialized examinations by colleagues with other expertise. In her estimation the gathered reports were consistent with a diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) and given that result, her duty was to notify MCFD and RCMP, each to do their respective investigations.

Still today several concerns arise in this case where the parents, the only caregivers who can be implicated in an SBS diagnosis, insisted in October 2007 as they do today July 2010, that they are innocent of harming their child. A shaken baby and innocent caregivers are not consistent. If one chooses to believe the parents who already had two young sons before the precious daughter arrived, one must explain the girl's health issues some other way.

1. Does sufficient doubt about SBS exist in medical research and diagnostic fields to put SBS into question as the default diagnosis for the triad of symptoms?

2. If another paediatrician without the SBS predisposition when faced with these particular symptoms had conducted the examination, would a variant diagnosis have resulted?

3. If adequate proof is required in order for RCMP to proceed with charges of child abuse or aggravated assault, how dare medical community and our MCFD be comfortable to accept “'suspicion' without evidence” as sufficient grounds not merely to remove children during an investigatory process but to extend the separation long enough that it takes a family apart? How dare our MCFD officers in Victoria remain satisfied with reports of this kind and if not satisfied, silent?

4. Assuming that RCMP investigative skills are superior to MCFD investigative skills in detecting and confirming wrongdoing, how can our government continue to validate and empower an MCFD to do what RCMP has said there is no reason to do?

My questions point to systemic defects.

1. A system is fundamentally flawed when it has directors and SW middle managers who systematically ignore prescribed time lines from the same CFCSA from which they demand compliance by everyone else.

2. A system is fundamentally flawed when it deliberately ignores court orders and rulings by a Judge, somehow assuming a self-appointed authority to justify actions and preferring to believe it is above the law.

Whether or not the CFCSA should be amended or replaced or tossed is moot when it can be willfully ignored or reinterpreted without censure by MCFD employees. What is needed is for MCFD directors, managers and supervisors to be held accountable for each and every breach of the existing Act. Where is the accountability? Further, that there be stated penalties for these breaches and that the penalties if financial are not absorbed by some fund which all of us have provided through taxation.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

SUSTAINING THE FAMILY'S PLACE / Part 243 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

On this blog site most observers familiar with the Ministry of Children and Family Development agree that the child protection activities are in crisis. MCFD knows how to seize children. MCFD doesn't want to know how and when to give them back. Parents and social workers alike agree that too many children remain in foster care for too long. Most people who pay attention to child welfare in British Columbia, concur with this viewpoint and complain for good reason.

While I dedicated this blog for the past nine months to advocating on behalf of Paul and Zabeth Bayne and their three children, all of you have been making it amply clear to all readers that the Baynes are only a sampling of the families who cry at night in separate living quarters. The Bayne children exemplify the thousands of children confused by their changed life situations. They wonder with fear about their families, their futures and their parents' love.

None of us disagree that aggressive measures are required to protect children from parental abuse and neglect. But here is the thing. Many broken families are bearing the evidence that there is an aggressive default protection policy operative within MCFD that removes children from their biological families and places them for adoption. Does anyone else in the real world think that this is an appropriate solution for the children who may be at risk in their homes? Child Welfare within this province must be pressured to reduce reliance on out-of-home care for children so that their own families may successfully raise them. I have become persuaded that MCFD is unjustifiably dismissive of the potential for preserving and restoring families when the appropriate resources are made available. Would not our society prefer to see resources poured into helping parents and children remain as families rather than pouring that money into foster care provisions with all the spinoff ramifications. As long as we are silent about our Child welfare system that is philosophically committed to removing children and retaining children without investing hope into the minds, hearts and lives of parents who are now appalled by grief and powerless to regain their parental rights, we aid and abet an inhuman treatment of our fellow citizens. News agencies, please pay attention here.

Oh its not my problem!
That's how we rationalize it, some of us.

And if our political representatives and legislators similarly leave the office each day to go home feeling that children victimized by a child welfare system gone awry is not their problem, we will talk idly about this into the next decade.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

GROUNDSWELL / Part 242 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Groundswell. New Ministry of Children Now!

By definition a groundswell is a strong, obvious and growing change of public sentiment or popular opinion that occurs spontaneously or without leadership or overt expression, like a wave.

What will it take? What will it take to move us first so that we become part of the movement that uproots and overturns the abusive system that is a disgrace to grace and mercy, kindness and altruistic assistance.

One answer is found in a comment by Gill Troy, McGill U professor who in expressing what is required to get Jews interested enough to respond to a new anti-semitism wrote, "Anger is the active ingredient in the success of movements, be it Civil Rights, feminism, gay liberation, anti-Communism, Soviet Jewry or Zionism itself. When successfully channeled, anger can put oppressors and moral slobs on the defensive, adjust common language patterns, heighten people's sensitivities and change history. For starters, we should shake up and wake up the Jewish community, teaching that fighting the New Anti-Semitism requires going beyond business as usual."

If that is true then some of you are verbalizing, venting, your distaste for MCFD practices with regard to child protection and the way it affects families. Do you read how diplomatically I have stated your feelings. It's too soft isn't it? In fact you are angry. I keep saying that we need to control ourselves and I believe on one hand that I am right. If you still have unfinished business with MCFD then the more unglued you appear to them, the more negative reporting goes into your file. That's why anonymity and camouflaged information needs to appear here if you are telling your story. I don't believe we need to be paranoid but wary. Are you angry yet? You see, on the other hand as Gill Troy tells us, one of the motivating factors that generate successful movements is anger sufficient to press for change. Why do any of you have to suffer so helplessly. It is plainly wrong. It is enough to make you angry.

A few of you have said that what MCFD child protection does, is wrong. It's an inadequate descriptive isn't it? You can hardly find words adequate to depict the things done to adult men and women and their children. Wrong yes! But also condemnable, improper, reprehensible, deplorable, criminal, dishonourable, immoral, unethical, wicked, that's what it is.

A groundswell is like a wave, tsunami. By the way, 75% of all tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean. I certainly am hoping that a Pacific opposition of tsunami proportions will strike a responsive chord among our politicians.

Do you think that you can manage your anger? Anger motivates but it doesn't win debates. It alienates listeners and readers and decision makers. The anger can propel you to be a good researcher, a committed advocate, a change maker. The anger must be first harnessed into energy.

In writing about the need for Jews to respond to the new anti-semitism McGill professor Gill Troy says, “