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.”