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


  1. CW; I wish to thank you for your balanced input yesterday. You point out that if best pracice is followed the risk assessment device can produce a fair result. However, I think that if you read my comments more carefully, you will see that the document is useless.
    As I have said many times before,the ministry always tries to solve problems by using administrative devices. Unfortunately this does not work when dealing with non-administrative problems. I keep repeating that nothing will work unless the staff show intelligence, integrity, compassion and courage.
    I would like to repeat something that I said yesterday and I will stand by it. The Bayne risk assessment was an atrocious abuse of authority. This was not just down to one sloppy worker. This abuse was condoned by everyone up the line up to the deputy minister. It was only made possible by lack of integrity at every level. If this can happen in only one case, then nobody is safe from such abuse. We know that it has happened in many cases and this can only happen if the administration and its lawyers condone it.
    I think that you will agree that the risk assessment can be used as a tool or as a weapon. In the Bayne case it was clearly used as a weapon. There is no point in having "best practice" guidelines, if they can be ignored at will. This is the real issue. The administration is simply not willing to take responsibility for ensuring accountability. How often do you hear. " it is before court and we can do nothing", or "cannot discuss it due to privacy rules?"

  2. Outstanding summary, Ron.

  3. In the context of publishing this in a Christian publication, which, incidently appears to be exceptionally well produced and a very good read generally, I am conscious of the fact the people who testified against the Baynes on behalf of the Ministry professed themselves as Christians.

    If I am not mistaken, the Baynes children are not benefiting from attending church during this MCFD intervention. Supposedly maintaining some semblance of their past upbringing is high on the MCFD children in care list, "religion" being of the highest importance. These children are not old enough to be apprised of their rights, as per the document CW so helpfully supplied a link to.

    My children used to attend religious school in the evenings and attend occasional Sundays. This was not in their plan of care, so they never attended church while in care. Now, they are not interested in church or some other activities they were formally very interested in before removal.

    "Forcing" them to do something they do not want to do, and in fact have been so conditioned is the example of deliberate sabotage that occurs to children and Parents who are wishing for the best for their children.

    If there is a bright side for the Baynes, it may be their children are still very young and still well attached. A return at this young age may mean there is still time to overcome the damage done in care. Let's hope.

    I recently faced three judges in a Court of Appeal who apparently are in the belief the Ministry can do no wrong. Don't think for one minute this can end only with the return of your children.

    While we wait for that day when significant changes occur that protection parents and children from wrongful and lengthy removals, in the meantime, the public must be warned about the danger that exists

    Keep spreading the word.


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