|Don't rule on a family by rolling dice|
When reviewing the official and independent inquiries into the MCFD over many years and many journal studies and news stories, child protection looks like a social services disaster. Few of us have any idea what it must be like for parents in cases of alleged abuse, to be viewed by professionals as being guilty until you can prove your innocence; to be under such close scrutiny that you are virtually in the world of big brother. I ask you again to look at Robert Harrison's update yesterday on this blog.
B.C. added five new judges recently to assist the backlog of cases in provincial courts. Each week our courts endeavor to produce judgments consistent with strands of frayed information and imperfect relationships. Information has typically been concealed. Parents whose children have been taken away are fearful to speak about their cases lest they reduce their possibility of regaining custody. Even parents who have their children returned are reluctant to identify their comments publicly. Furthermore, media coverage of cases is forbidden. There has been an almost complete censorship of the world of “child protection” and that is why Judge Crabtree's ruling at the start of the Bayne hearing was significant. While the MCFD counsel applied for a news ban, that was denied. So why is not the media on top of this one. It's not bad enough news. It doesn't sell regularly. Whether the eventual ruling goes against either the Baynes or the Ministry will certainly be newsworthy - briefly. Such hearings as the one in which Paul and Zabeth Bayne have been involved are usually in camera, and these family court hearings generally have a lower standard of proof than criminal courts because they cannot send people to jail. But they can take children away and as parents will tell us, the loss of a child is a kind of life sentence. As to a lower standard of proof, try probability as a justification for the destruction of a family. What kind of society is it that will permit a government ministry and a judicial system to operate on the basis of probability rather than evidence? "We cannot prove that they did it, but they probably did." "We cannot prove they are a risk, but they probably are."
Permitting journalists into family courts even with some restricted reporting direction could keep both sides more honest. It might provide the innocent party a chance to cry for help and be heard. As it is, the media must be silent. What should occur is that the media can speak to what happened a decade ago but also to what is happening today, Thursday at Chilliwack Court when Ministry lawyer Finn Jensen completes his summation aimed at persuading the judge not to return the three Bayne children to their parents, ever.