Friday, December 31, 2010

GOODBYE AND HELLO / Part 404 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

We are almost done, that is, done with 2010. Some ground was gained for the Bayne family, but so much has already been lost. Three hundred and fifty six more days passed with the children not overnighting, not living in the Bayne family home. 356 days added to the previous two years during which these children have been physically separated from their mommy and daddy unless in the company of a government ministry supervisor. Over the course of 2010, the Baynes were at least permitted their days in court to defend themselves against the allegations of the Ministry of Children. The judge who heard the case ruled an increase in visitation time for the parents, as well as granting visitation in the family home and very soon he will render his ruling on the all important matter of permanent custody.

I hope the journalists and cameras are on hand when the announced ruling is delivered early in January 2011. That ruling is expected not later than January 19th. When the Judge returns these three children to Paul and Zabeth there should be horn blowing and celebration. What I hope for is a repudiation of the regional office of the Ministry of Children and Family Development that has managed this case. More than that, I wish for a climate change within MCFD, that Ministry leadership will listen to the heart-cries of the people whom the Ministry is commissioned to help. Maybe this ruling against the Fraser Valley Regional MCF can be a teachable moment for MCFD.

Parents who have experienced or are experiencing what the Baynes have endured this long, are filled with anger and rage. No one can blame them. They feel ambushed. Their lives have been invaded and interrupted and overwhelmed. In some of these cases, the continued involvement of the Ministry is technically defensible based upon the Child and Family Community Services Act, but is not justified based upon actual evidence. It is then that the Ministry's engagement feels like harassment and molestation. 

I do not even want to consider the other possible outcome of the Judge's analysis of twenty-two days of court presentations. It would be outrageous to grant the CCO in this case, to remove the children permanently from their parents. I genuinely believe that outcome is improbable.  Goodbye 2010 and the past, and hello 2011 and the future. The Baynes, a united family, free from surveillance, free to live and grow together.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Posts will resume on January 1, 2011 (maybe a day sooner). The Comment Section will be curtailed until then. Important news updates will be posted.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Posts will resume on January 1, 2011. The Comment Section will be curtailed until then. Important news updates will be posted.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Judge Crabtree did not accede to the Baynes’ application for a variance of the interim custody and the previous court ordered access/visitation, specifically asking for unsupervised visitation and overnight stay over Christmas. He stated that this was too substantive a change to the present interim custody and the Baynes’ arguments touch upon the very issues and evidence at the heart of the trial upon which he is completing his analysis and his ultimate ruling which he expects will be delivered around January 19th, 2011. Zabeth and Paul will still have a Christmas visitation with their children.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Drop a Christmas Greeting

During this Christmas week, I am taking a break. I won't write another post unless something irresistable comes up or an update needs to be posted. However, I want to invite you to take a few moments to express a seasonal greeting to Zabeth and Paul or any other parent whom you know personally and who will experience Christmas this year without their children in the home. Thanks, it's the least we can do.

And may I offer my best wishes to you as well for a happy Christmas.
Ron Unruh
First Exception on Tues 7:22 PM: Remember Paul and Zabeth and the meeting tomorrow at 2 PM with Judge Crabtree when they ask for unsupervised Christmas visitation. MCFD lawyer has filed the Director's opposing affidavit.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

FOR WHAT DO WE STAND? / Part 403 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

In commenting about the CBC story about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, one person wrote the following:
Julian Assange stands for.......


The USA stands for.........

Control over the people

Most of us are initially appalled to think that the last set of descriptives could be true of a free world democratic government. Nevertheless there are many people whose knowledge or personal experiences concur that these are apt identifiers for the USA. There are enough shockers happening inside our democracies to make us all nervous about the truth.

Based upon what many of you have written over the months it would seem that in your minds at least, that latter set of attributes are applicable to the Ministry of Children and Development in those localities where you live. You say that you have experienced Lies, Cover-ups, Authoritarianism, Injustice, Aggression, and Control over your lives.

That reputation is a heavy burden for well intentioned social workers.
I have the impression from social workers that their work today is like a mine field. They must vigilantly watch their steps with clients and supervisors.

Parents whose children have been apprehended inaccurately, mistakenly or unjustly are in Guantanamo Bay. Their lives have been detained. Freedoms curtailed. Resources diminished. Their children are under 'foster' arrest, customarily receiving acceptable care but experienced relationship deprivation. The children's still maleable lives are being shaped by events happening to them which they often cannot understand and which are beyond the control of the people who are most important to them.

Some of you have hinted at the ramifications possible if a Wikileaks kind of disclosure occurred with documents internal to MCFD regional offices or the offices of the suits and slacks in Victoria. But what would you want to come out of something like that? What kind of people are we? For what do we stand?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

To Whom Can you Complain? / Part 402 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

I would like to know whether any of you who are reading today, have had occasion formally to make a complaint about the ministry. We are told that this is possible. When you have concerns about the care of your child in the foster care program or a concern about a social worker, you are entitled to make this complaint known. Have you ever done this? When it is a complaint about a social worker or when you cannot make contact with the SW, you are encouraged to speak with that SW's supervisor. Of course, to do that, you may have to ask the social worker for the name and phone number of their supervisor. Has that worked? And of course you can write a letter of your concern directly to the social worker with a copy to the supervisor and request reconsideration of a decision or action. Have you done this? Beyond that, the Ministry of Children does have a complaint resolution process for which you may call at no charge to 1-877-387-7027 asking for the dispute resolution consultant in your area. Have you tried that and if so, how did it go? When that is unhelpful, you can call the Board of Registration for Social Workers of BC. Their phone number is (604) 737-4916 (in Vancouver). If the social worker is registered with that board, you can file a complaint with them. Some people turn to their MLA, elected representative (Member of the Legislative Assembly). Have you done this? You might contact your Ombudsman if you are getting help nowhere else, by calling (250) 387-5855 (in Victoria) or 1-800-567-3247 (elsewhere in BC; call no charge). You may ask for this help. Have you called that number? When your complaint is about the care being received in a foster situation by your child, call the Representative for Children and Youth of BC. The phone number is (250) 356-0831 (in Victoria) or 1-800-476-3933 (elsewhere in BC; call no charge). E-mail them at

The Baynes have done all of this unsuccessfully over the course of three years.

(If you missed it on Tuesday when he wrote it, catch Ray Ferris's comment on this same theme.)  If it's as bleak as Ray described it, we are in a deep hole.

Friday, December 17, 2010

OBSCENITY / Part 401 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

What has been done to Zabeth and Paul Bayne is disgustingly abhorrent. It's obscene.

Alright, some readers, particularly those who have experienced the horrific removal of their children for brief or lengthy periods of time, have not been pleased with my occasional portrayal of the well intentioned service side of social work and child welfare. I have been fair and balanced. There is good that is accomplished. Enough!

Enough! Social workers, some of your colleagues and supervisors are out of control. Their ethical compasses are broken. They have abandoned their heart for the work and relied upon the letter of the law. They treat people as files upon which the drawer can be closed at will, rather than human beings with faces and entire lives. They ignore the comprehensive impact their actions are having and will have upon people's futures. Happiness, hopes and dreams get shattered irreparably by the decisions of parties outside the family circle. Best interests are confused.

What is being done to Zabeth and Paul Bayne is disgustingly abhorrent. It's offensive, detestable. I don't care whether the argument is, “Well, it's our job,” or “We are mandated to insure the safety of the child.” How much insensitivity, inhumanity, can be demonstrated by one chapter of MCFD against one family?

For over three years with some very notable abusive events this couple against whom there has never been any evidence, but solely on the basis of suspicion and reprisal, have endured a degree of scrutiny and humiliation and intimidation that cries out like a human rights violation story. Now, while a court case initiated by the MCFD to remove their three children forever is still pending a judicial ruling, a mother and her unborn fourth child are being subjected to indecent threats and stress. Indecent I say, because presented as genuine interest in the welfare of a child that has not yet been born, proffering hypothetical, unspecified and unnecessary services to the parents for the new child when it arrives, there are cloaked threatening terms that become menacingly dangerous to a women whose pregnancies are historically fragile. That's what is taking place. “If you don't meet with us to talk about our involvement with you and your new child, then....”

Prematurity has characterized the other three births. MCFD knows this. The Director knows this. Mom has been ordered to remove and reduce stress from her life. She is only weeks away from her due date, and can you imagine what it must be like to put your head on the pillow each night with a frightful vision of social workers removing the baby from you at the hospital?

That's what's going on here! Somebody, make it stop! God, make this stop!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

NUMBER 400 & CHRISTMAS 3 / Part 400 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

We are only nine days from Christmas morning. This is the 400th daily GPS blog post advocating on behalf of Paul and Zabeth Bayne. Over 151,000 look-sees to the GPS site have been recorded. This is the third Christmas that the three Bayne children have not lived in the Paul and Zabeth Bayne family home. Paul and Zabeth made a request many weeks ago in court, for an unsupervised time with the children in the family home over Christmas. Judge Crabtree requested that the Baynes and the Director process this request. If that proved to be an unsuccessful approach, the Baynes could return to Judge Crabtree to mediate a settlement. That's where the request sits.

What could we possibly expect different from this outcome?

It would be an impossibility upon principle alone for the Director to grant to Paul and Zabeth Bayne an unsupervised overnight and Christmas morning with their children when he has a case pending a ruling for the permanent appropriation of these children based upon his conviction that the parents are a risk to their children.

It will require a Judge's ruling to make this significant concession to parents upon whose capability and credibility as parents he has yet to formally and publicly rule with regard to the Director's application for continuing custody of their three children. If Judge Crabtree grants this unsupervised visitation this Christmas, several things can be said. It will be a signal of his opinion of the Baynes if he grants the unsupervised visitation application. It must be viewed this way. It would be the unkindest tease that I have ever witnessed to grant this request if ultimately he removes the Baynes' custodial rights. Judge Crabtree is now Chief Justice of British Columbia. His judgements carry large implications and influential example for future court decisions by himself and other justices. If he decides not the grant the Baynes' request, it should not be perceived as a ruling against them, but rather as an appropriate decision given the unfinished status of the current court case. A concession now may be deemed premature and might even be challenged on that basis.

Even if the Bayne request is denied, these children will have an exhilarating Christmas celebration with mommy and daddy because these parents will not allow the real distress in their family relationship to cloud their joy or diminish the children's pleasure in the hours the family spends together.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

OPTIMUM POSITION/ Part 399 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

If you stand too close to a painting, you see only the broad brush strokes of colour.
If you stand too far back you are unable to see the details.
But at that optimum position you can see enough detail that the composition evokes a Wow!

'Mary's Eyes' closeup
The Director and his team all the way to the social workers who are in regular contact with Paul and Zabeth Bayne are too close to the painting of the Bayne family ordeal and they see only the heavy impaso of the Baynes refusal to acknowledge responsibility for their youngest child's injuries three years ago. They see only the thick application of public exposure. They see their own Ministry overtures as fair and generous and considerate and they view the Baynes as uncooperative. They are so close that they cannot see the nuances of the changing brush strokes over the past three years. They see the Baynes determination, and unwillingness to acquiesce to Ministry pressures.

Mary Polak, Leslie du Toit and all of the associates in Victoria are standing too far away to see the details. They cannot see that the portrait is really not one canvas but a diptych, two canvasses side by side, one showing the distress of a family separated and the other showing the joy at being together. The Victoria viewers have no appreciation for the pathos and expression of this family portrait. They cannot see the pain on the faces or the tears on the cheeks. Nor can they see pleasure on the faces of parents holding their children and happiness on the countenances of the children as they play with one another among the familiar items of home. Nor does Victoria care. And the crew in Victoria stand too far away to see the mistakes that have been making in creating the A side of the diptych while preventing the B side from being realized.

'Mary's Eyes' by Ron Unruh 2010
The premise for the creation of the position of Representative of Children and Youth was that an official should be charged with responsibility to stand at the optimum position in order to view family portraits like that of the Baynes. While the Bayne portrait may not be a classic it nonetheless grabs a viewers attention from across the room and with each step closer it delivers and holds the viewer's attention. We were hoping that the Representative's Office would stand at the optimum position and notice that Side A was not completed and would then conclude that Side A should never have been begun. But that is not the Representative's mandate. We were hoping that the Representative would engage with the idyllic Side B composition and offer an opinion but that is apparently not mandated either. As much as I hate to admit this, this leaves only us, the discerning public to stand at the optimum place to see both the entire composition as well as the strokes that have achieved these results. If we feel strongly about this portrait we will have to invite countless other people to examine it as well, critics, journalists, news networks, politicians, legislators.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WAIT A MINUTE! / Part 398 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Some of you will be upset with me for trying this.

I am asking you to try on something hypothetical. Let's just suppose for a moment that either Paul or Zabeth did actually harm their baby girl in September 2007. If a non accident injury caused the medical issues that put her life at risk three years ago, one of these parents lost control. That's what one would conclude. These parents already had two sons. Affectionate and thoughtful nurture of these boys typified the Baynes' parental pattern. The arrival of a daughter was an astounding blessing to them. When she was merely weeks old, this hypothesis would propose that mommy or daddy lost it. It could hardly be deliberate cruelty. It couldn't be abuse of that nature. That would be unmistakeably a crime, a felony. Then what else could it be if not an accident or a crime? It would have to be the unfortunate outcome of a fit of impatience or annoyance or anger. A parent would have had to hit the child's head, or knock the child's head to the floor, some appallingly awful action. And if this had been done, one parent did it and the other would somehow learn or know that truth. Both would be complicit in this injury to a child because one perpetrated it and one concealed it. These two people would have to be without consciences or with flawed ethics.

That is not the Zabeth and Paul that their family and their friends know. It is not the parental couple that Judge Thomas Crabtree watched for twenty-two days in court.

Before their release and the dropped charges, when Zabeth and Paul were arrested, the events were so shocking to her that she had a physical, emotional meltdown and had to be hospitalized. That is not a manifestation of cover-up but violent astonishment and overwhelming fear at these out of control circumstances.

Permit me to carry the conjecture further. If one parent injured the child and the other knew about it, could they both be so steel-hearted that they would endure the sustained removal of all three of their children? If in those early weeks, Zabeth knew that Paul had injured their youngest child and if she herself assessed him as a risk, and if she were told that her three children would be returned to her if Paul did not have access to them, do you think that she would have chosen to be with Paul rather than her children? Or turn that equation around the other way, with Zabeth the guilty one and Paul the innocent parent. Is it reasonable to think that these two people would say “our love for one another is of greater importance to each of us than our children are, so we will hang in together and hope for the best in trying to regain custody?”

I will attempt one other scenario. Let's speculate that both Paul and Zabeth are innocent of having inflicted any harm to their third child, a helpless, infant daughter. This proposal includes an accidental injury that caused the initial injury that escalated with passing days. Let's further include a tumble of one sybling upon the infant at a time that approximates the start of the baby's physical distress. Let's suppose that Paul and Zabeth were absolutely desperate to have medical professionals ascertain what was wrong with this baby in her deteriorating condition back in 2007. Each failed visit to a hospital made them more frantic. This proposition portrays the parents as distraught and sick at heart when they learned both the severity of their child's injuries and the accusation against them of willfully hurting her. Then let's see them in this script immediately and always asserting their innocence, insistently, unwaveringly maintaining this innocence, through every attempt by the social worker team and legal counsel to make one of them cave. I can tell you now that Zabeth's maternal instincts are so powerful that she has weathered the chasm of suffering that have been these past three years and at last endured insidious, slanderous statements from a Ministry lawyer determined to end her motherhood. These parents have been so focused upon regaining their family, there is nothing that is more important to them as may be with some parents, not drugs, not alcohol, not personal vacation, travel, career opportunities, acquisitions, nothing! Nothing has sidetracked them. Not the Hope B.C. MCFD callousness and intimidation. Nothing! Oh, wait a minute. That's right, this latter storyline is the only one that is credible. Only this scenario explains what we have witnessed for three years. Only this one explains why Judge Crabtree has refused to act like other judicial lightweights who might cow-tow to the MCFD allegations. Instead he has increased visitation times for the parents and given them at home visitation. That's because this last version is not an hypothesis but the truth.

Monday, December 13, 2010

HELP ANYONE?/ Part 397 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Why don't you find internet blogs or websites hosted by parents and families of people who have been helped by the resourcing of the Ministry of Children and Family? Why isn't anyone but the MCFD telling these stories. Some of you will be quick to supply me with the answer to that question.

I have been openly acknowledging my understanding that our society, our communities are comprised of all kinds of people, some nice and some not so nice, healthy people as well as broken people, calm and angry people, gentle and mean spirited people, gregarious and lonely people, some who are stellar and some who behave badly, some who care for others and some who cannot care for themselves, wealthy people and poor people.

I have acknowledged that our familial moral and social DNA has compelled us over generations to develop a consensus to care for those who become troubled or victimized within a society as complex as ours is. Consequently I have admitted the need for responsible work with a segment of individuals, families, children, youth, parents, seniors, women, disabled, you name them. And to affect that responsible work I have noted that we have chosen to be governed by some of the 'better' people among us, that is, motivated, educated, principled people. This is the operational theory here. We who gain income are taxed and with the hundreds of millions of dollars that our governors have available, we are optimistic that the needs of people within our society will be met. This should be seamless as the government acts as an extension of our large societal family. This democratic government should be an arm of our grand family. I have recognized the necessity of standards, codes, regulations, ordinances, laws and acts to systematize what together we deem as acceptable behaviour and ethic.

I have even admitted that the tasks assigned to social workers within this discipline of protecting children according to the governing acts and laws is thorny, emotional, complex and difficult. What we are typically exploring and discovering on this one blog, are the experiences of merely one small segment of our society, children and parents, who feel that the government is no longer part of the family, but has become an overlord, a master. That suggests that those of us unemployed by the government are subservient. And when it comes to the Ministry of Children and specifically the child protection division, the parents who are deemed clients, are in fact anything but clients. They have usually not voluntarily subscribed to Ministry involvement. They are people who feel that they are required to become subordinate, submissive, compliant, cooperative on threat of child removal.
Explore the MCFD website and you will read adulatory comments about programs and services being provided. Show me another site where parents, children and families are voluntarily singing the praises of the Ministry of Children for what they have provided and how they have enhanced familial life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

IN ALISON'S OWN WORDS / Part 396 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

You met Alison in yesterday's post. She is a mom and a fourth year student in child welfare and intending a career in child protection. In my blog post today I have Alison's permission to quote snatches from a submission she published on November 27th. She stumbled onto my blog while doing course research and she left a comment. You will appreciate the sincerity and thoughtfulness of this young woman as she entitles her piece The ethics of child protection? and after several paragraphs she wrote the following.

“I have also recently read everything I could find about MCFD since the 2006 Hughes Report, especially what was available about the changes Deputy Minister du Toit intends to make. She is scrapping Risk Assessment in favour of a new model, called "CAPP" which stands for Child and Family Support, Assessment, Planning and Practice, and which is mostly described in aspirational, visionary terms. Specific, measurable outcomes are not published, nor are details pertaining to what staff will actually be doing. Not very transparent, in my opinion, and thus, not very ethical.”

“Two further reports I have recently read are
Broken Promises (2008) and  Hands Tied (2009), both researched and published  by Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver. The first talks about how the system has consistently failed children and their families for generations in spite of legislative reform, internal reorganization and changing governments. The second talks about why BC child protection workers are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate: not enough staff, and too much political churn.”

“As well, I have been reading whatever I can find about MCFD in the public domain - media articles, blog posts, and comments on both. One specific blog I have been perusing is GPS, which is 'a personal weblog advocating for the Bayne family reunion and suggesting potential corrections to B.C. child welfare.' The comments on many of these blog posts have led me to conclude that British Columbians despise social workers.”

“I, however, would like to distinguish between social workers and child protection workers. Social Workers in BC are governed by the Social Workers Act, unless they are employed by a government or its agency, a school or a band (um, that's a LOT of exceptions!). Despite Judge Gove's recommendation that child protection social workers
actually be social workers (pretty radical, I know!), child protection workers are not required to have a degree in social work, nor are they required to be registered. They can hold a degree in Child and Youth Care (or they can hold a Masters in Clinical Psychology or an M.Ed. in Counselling).”

“Regardless, as Pivot (2008) points out, "apprehensions are generally the result of a parent’s struggle with poverty, addiction, mental health issues or family violence. The government’s lack of commitment to providing publicly funded services has severely undermined the ability of [MCFD] to take a preventative approach to child protection issues."

I believe social work education, which is
highly anti-oppressive, which requires continual deconstruction of the current and historical political ideologies which inform social policy, which insists that all knowledge is socially constructed to benefit a small minority of citizens, can effectively train workers to treat all clients with dignity and respect. It is a social worker's job to look for the structural, systemic causes of a parent's "bad behaviour" rather than blaming individual pathology. We consider the person in his/her environment. We stand with our clients, in solidarity. Our mandate is social change, social and economic justice for all citizens, not just for the "good" ones.”

“I just have to keep reminding myself of my mandate as a
social worker (as described, above), not as a child protection worker (whose mandate is contradictory, to keep children safe from parental maltreatment while maintaining the family home as the ideal place for children). I have to keep reminding myself that I chose this profession out of my stand for social justice for all, especially the most marginalized; that I chose social work out of an ethical responsibility I feel to children. Otherwise, all those commenters who write that child protection workers are evil, could lead me to despair, lead me to think child protection is a pointless career, characterized by burnout, not appreciated by anyone. And we can't have that!”

Thank you Alison for your willingness to share your aspirations, ideals and opinions for the past two days.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

CHILD WELFARE STUDENT'S VIEW / Part 395 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

On November 22nd, Alison wrote a comment on the blog post #375 entitled, A Social Worker's Challenge. There she introduced herself. Following from that on November 27th, Ray Ferris responded to Alison.There were a few others who engaged her that day on Blog #380. Since then for the past several days she and others have continued to interact.

Alison told us that she is a mother and that she is a fourth year student with a child welfare specialization at University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford. She happened upon my blog while researching CAPP and Risk Assessment for her class work. She left her informative comment after browsing and reading blog content for an hour. She has chosen child protection as her career track. She knows this is not easy work but she believes that it is honourable work. Very openly and honestly she spoke of her own ethical concerns about aspects of the work in which she will be engaged. She told us that she has received good counsel from her father who is himself a social worker with MCFD with a twenty year service record. She knows that there is a high attrition rate among social workers. Child protection certainly has a high attrition rate as attested by a social worker who as a guest instructor in one of Alison's recent classes stated that she has chosen to move to another province because of disappointment with Ministry changes over the past few years. When speaking of the challenges of the work in which she will be employed, Alison wrote, “There are no black and white cases, they are all painted in shades of gray. However, I chose this work because I believe that someone has to stand for children. I think that, sometimes, standing for children means standing for their parents, supporting their parents, developing their parents. (After all, what is the full name of MCFD? The Ministry for children and family DEVELOPMENT.)

She thanked me for acknowledging the complexities of the process for keeping children safe in that day's blog entitled 'A Social Worker's Challenge' and then she said, “I will endeavour to live up to the challenge you describe in this post, to be willing to admit when I have made the wrong decision. I think I'm not the only social worker out there willing to take up this challenge...”

I believed hers was a significant comment and because I wanted people with a jaded impression of all social workers to be encouraged, I invited Alison to write to me personally and she did that. I asked for and received her permission to write this information as a blog post. In that exchange she wrote, “It is difficult to not be discouraged after reading some of the comments placed on your blog, it seems that many people lump social workers and child protection workers and politicians and MCFD into one category. I personally see many competent child protection workers, some of whom are trained as social workers, some of whom are not, and I see a few poor practitioners. I also see that many good workers are constrained by the ministry, by their managers (who are no longer protected by a union, and can be fired for not following the 'party line'), and forced to do things they don't want to do.

Tomorrow I will publish another post that features Alison's thoughts. She represents people who are our best hope for family development within MCFD and responsible child welfare.

She writes a blog called random musings...

Friday, December 10, 2010

A FAMILY WAITS FOR THE WORD / Part 394 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

If Judge Crabtree, Bruce McNeill, Finn Jensen or anyone else needs some validation that the best interests of the three Bayne children will be best served by a permanent and unqualified return to their biological parental home where the fitness of the Bayne parents and grandparents to care for the children is unquestioned, then these photos should be seen. Judge Crabtree ordered a six hour family visit each Saturday in the home of the Baynes and these children provide evidence that this is where they belong and where they desire to live. Again, must I qualify this by clarifying that the previous comment is no reflection upon the present foster family. This is not a contest or comparison. I speak to what is just and right and timely. This is a biological family. It's been three years. These children need their parents. Paul and Zabeth prepared their home for the return of the children. Or perhaps better stated, their home has always retained a readiness for the return of the children.
Daddy and Bethany and fluffy toys

Baden and stuffy toys on his bed
Boys bedroom
Their daughter has a bedroom of her own and it is suitably girly and made for a princess. She loves her bed and she lays her soft toys in order and they wait for her return the following week. Her habitation there should not be a weekly visit but 24/7. The boys as well have a bedroom and at their request, Paul and Zabeth kept the beds that the boys remember because that is what the boys requested. When these children return home permanently the family will shop for 'big boy' beds. 

Kent and a tie like Bumpa's
It doesn't have to be much to make a child happy. Kent is wearing a cowboy tie like his Bumpa wears so he is content.

Mommy and Bethany at the piano

Music is a large slice of life for Zabeth, although it has been on hold during her ordeal. Perhaps when the children are returned her interest will revive and perhaps one or more of her children may want to learn to play.

Bumpa and Baden at quiet play

Grandpa and Grandma are able to visit their grandchildren on these days. It must mean so much. Grandparents suffer as well when their children and their grandchildren are separated and a family world is in disarray. How agonizing it must be for them to think that Judge Crabtree must decide whether or not the Ministry should keep the children. That ruling may be 5-7 weeks away.

Children's Playroom

A children's room is filled with appealing opportunities for hours of play.

Mommy and Bethany
Mommy loves her little girl and Bethany has done so well. There are so many reasons for thanksgiving. Now we are trusting that the wait will not be long until the Judge permits this family to be reunited and they can be together in their own home without a supervisor or a caseworker second guessing all their actions.  

These photos were taken from a Facebook entry and Facebook friends may see all the photos here. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

TALKING POINTS / Part 393 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne


I noted several talking points scheduled for a conference of social workers in the U.S. and these impressed me yet cause me to question whether the points are valid when applied to the Ministry of Children and Family Development of B.C.

  1. Social Workers champion access, equality and fairness.
  2. Social Workers improve the fabric of society by being advocates for people who need help addressing serious life challenges and exploring their options.
  3. The Social Work profession was established more than 100 years ago to provide as many people as possible with the tools and support they need to overcome adversity (poverty, illness, addiction, abuse, discrimination, etc.) and reach their full potential.
  4. The Social Work profession also works to change systems and customs that limit the ability of vulnerable individuals and groups to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
  5. The nation’s Schools of Social Work promote social work education as a way for socially conscious people to make a significant difference in the world through service and leadership.
  6. Every day, Social Workers witness the best and worst of human nature. A Social Worker’s success is often defined by the opportunities people enjoy thanks to their intervention.
  7. Social Workers believe they have a responsibility to effect positive change for the future.

As a reader, why don't you choose a talking point and talk to it. Engage the rest of us. Tell the rest of us whether or not you agree with a point.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A LITTLE BALANCE PLEASE / Part 392 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

I know that many readers want me to castigate the Ministry of Children, all of its bureaucrats and all of its social workers and do this all of the time. That's the understandable mood when you feel wronged by an agency funded by your own tax dollars and worse, when you are actually experiencing the disruption of your family, your security, your happiness, your mental and emotional well-being and when your children are being subjected to turbulent changes far beyond your control. I understand that you want me to dedicate this forum to blasting what you perceive as 'the enemy.' So, I have to call for a little balance please.

I know that people embarking upon a career as a social worker do so for reasons other than monetary gain or power acquisition. The motivation is far more honourable than that. People get into social work because they desire to improve other people's lives. They may choose to work with children, youth, geriatric clients, psychiatric patients, families, parents or another one of the many concentrations. We are on this blog site because the subject matter has focused upon child protection social work, child removal, court issues and all of the associated heartaches and stresses. This particular blog has begun with one family's plight as its primary subject. While the Bayne family continues to be the recurring theme, their three year struggle has invited shared stories from countless other parents whose children have been removed from them for brief or extended periods of time. There have been wrenching tales of children removed forever from the biological parents. When many of the writers of comments are anonymous it is impossible to verify the stories. Nevertheless, there is a thread of identifiable veracity and a commonality of experiences that lead a reader to conclude that within the child protection arena, the early genuine, altruistic intention of social workers becomes bent or compromised by something. That's the reality with which we struggle. Why would social workers' reports contain skewed, exaggerated, unsubstantiated, untrue statements about parents or home situations? How could social workers allow themselves to act this way?

What unseen forces exist within the system that compel the worker to compromise the ideals with which the career began?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

AN APPEAL TO SOCIAL WORKERS / Part 391 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne


Here is my entreaty to social workers engaged in child protection. When you reflect upon the cases in which you are now or have been involved, and if within that list you readily identify families which would benefit from being together rather than apart and you have the means to affect that reconciliation, do all that you can to insure that this happens. So much rests with you. You control destinies. That seems a frightening responsibility.

Logo of National SW month for NASW
Anyone occupying a role which owns the weight and the power of the child protection worker within our society, has to have the right stuff if he or she is confidently and effectively to protect the rights of children, safeguard the rights of families and parents and live with a deep contentment at the end of the day. If you see many cases where harm has been inflicted upon innocents, it is understandable that a callousness develops toward the responsible caregivers. How discriminating you must be to preserve your own authentic objectivity. How discerning you must be so that can separate fact and evidence from story and assumption. 

You are a member of the public and the public depends upon you front line people to be so careful with your invested power for our sakes, the children among us, children who may require food, opportunity, protection. And by referring to “our sakes” I also intend our families, parents of children, parents who require understanding, a listening ear, parents who require advice & counsel and encouragement, grandparents whose grandchildren are their joy and for whom they hope. Make all of your action choices wisely and be gentle with us please.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Photo: Globe and Mail
Carol James resigned as leader of the BC NDP party this morning. Find your local news source for the full story. CBC tells it here. B.C.  Watch: 8:26

POLITICIANS AND CHILDREN/ Part 390 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

I am usually hopeful. Today, not so much.
The contentious spirit, the vast expenditure of monies evidenced in our British Columbia political climate as individuals vie for control of political parties and ultimately for the governing mandate of the province is a waste of resources of all kinds. This is however a diminutive display in a small arena which typifies what humanity is doing on a much larger scale around the world. Wikileaks are merely a temporary embarrassment for nations treating one another with suspicion and disrespect in the midst of a veneer of good relations. Elsewhere North Korea simply ignores the politics and aggressively blows up South Korean property. And all of this, for what?

Back to British Columbia. Progress is inhibited because there is so much wheel-spinning as individuals and parties protect themselves. Working together is a concept that eludes our kind. We can theorize but the personalities who are driven to acquire power are hot-wired to fight for factional interests. That's because they get to the power station by accommodations to special interests which thereafter must be placated. The greater interest and greater good of the whole, the province, the people, the seniors, the children, the disabled, the students, the teachers, the medical professionals, the tradespeople, are given perfunctory attention. The resources of this province should be viewed as belonging to all of us. Somehow the government has philosophically divorced itself from us but refused to accept this. From an historical anecdote, our government is the kind that gives the province's teachers grief and delay at the bargaining table and then follows it up by an outlandish in our faces raise for MLAs.

Our government is the consumer society. It devours money. It passes legislation and creates programs for the self-serving purpose of generating more usable dollars to consume on projects that do not matter and do not help the whole. Yet when the budget and the funds are challenging, the really important ministries and services that help us are slashed or eliminated. Isn't that right? Haven't you read about this before?

Yes, well, sorry about all that, but it is illustrative of my frustration with the upper echelon of the Ministry of Children which should and could work together with the Representative of Children and Youth, rather than moving instinctively into a defensive posture. An objective appraisal of MCFD by the Rep should be seen as helpful and on the other hand the Representative could be making constructive suggestions over the months rather than presenting a landmine report once every couple of years. We really know how to do things incorrectly. And the Governing Liberal Cabinet refuses to put money where it would do the most good. So, I need another dark roast coffee right now to fortify me to think about our provincial leaders who cannot be trusted with the best interests of children when they spend most of their time marketing themselves, roasting their opponents or planting IEDs for one another. It would be so refreshing to hear a politician speak about ministry to children, parents and families from a position of sincere commitment.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

DESTROY OR REFORM/ Part 389 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

If you can't shut down MCFD then reform it. What do you think about that?

While VOCA (Voices of Children Alliance) derives from concerns over child protection in Ontario, we have already learned that the concerns there are identical to those in all provinces, including British Columbia.

This link takes you to a fascinating page on the VOCA site that is highly supportive to families where the MCFD has intercepted normal family life and removed children for a variety of reasons. It begins with the assertion that the Child Protection system that operates in B.C. needs to be abolished. Then, given the reality that the political will is unprepared to destroy CPS, a second alternative is to introduce reforms to policy and to the legal system. There is even a section that speaks about harmful reform suggestions, a few of which some of you may have recommended.

Following an insightful preliminary paragraph, a content table is provided and then each of the titles on that index is opened up with well developed thoughts. It is worth a read.

For instance you find in the opener entitled “Reform for Children's Aid,” the following statements.
“The only real remedy for the abuses of the child protection system is its abolition. No one should have the power to take children from their parents by force of arms, and the upkeep of children should not be paid with appropriated funds. Once the child protection behemoth is dead, private charity can easily handle the small load of orphaned children, as it responded to the much larger number of homeless children a century ago before the creation of the welfare state.”

“Since the political will to eliminate the child protection system is nowhere near to realization, we have here a list of lesser reforms that may alleviate the hardships in the current system, and lead toward more comprehensive reforms. This list includes all known suggestions for reform, most politically impractical, some that are useless, and a few that might aggravate the current problems. The suggestions are more to stimulate discussion than legislation. Do not waste effort mailing the list to your MPP. The suggestions are organized into policy reforms, reforms to the legal system, and dubious reforms that may do more harm than good.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

LIZ ARMBRUSTER / Part 388 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

In what you say of another, apply the test of  kindness, necessity and truth, and let nothing pass your lips without a two-thirds majority.”

That was one of the original thoughts by Liz Armbruster. She was a wife, mother and grandmother. She passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at age 51 on Wednesday September 29, 2009. She was much loved and she was a good thinker and she had a wonderfully-written blog In Search of the Empty Nest.

Perhaps her most quoted original thought is this: “I brought children into this dark world because it needed the light that only a child can bring.”

Zabeth Bayne is bringing another child into the world. The world needs the light of this child. It will be a boy and his name has already been decided.

The way I see it, MCFD has absolutely no business being involved in this unborn child's life, or this child's life upon birth. But MCFD is seeking to do so. We have the evidences. Any attempt at involvement at the moment is harassment and if it occurs after the child is born and the other three children have been returned to the Baynes it will be nothing but vindictiveness. Even now this invasion is liable to be brought to the Representative of Children and Youth. It should not be assumed that attention will not be paid now. In fact, while this case concerning the continuing care of the three children waits for the decision of Judge Thomas Crabtree, I can say that MCFD should never have been involved with the lives of the Baynes' two sons. Those boys should never have been in government sponsored care for these past three years. Imagine Lawyer Finn Jensen arguing for his client, MCFD, to have all three children, two boys and a daughter removed permanently, when earlier in the same year he had advised his client (and it's on record) that he and MCFD could not win a case with regard to the boys because there was insufficient evidence. His client would not listen to that advice. So Jensen sallied forth to press the unwinnable case anyway. In the process he threw muck through which Judge Crabtree must mentally tramp.

MCFD's behaviour in this case, at least the local MCFD chapter has been reprehensible, vicious, deplorable, condemnable. One descriptive word will not suffice. MCFD not just locally is at fault because MCFD Victoria, the Minister's Office and the Deputy Minister's Office have been well apprised of this case and nevertheless remained detached. Or, perhaps the head honchos told the locals, “Win this thing at any cost!” Whether Victoria was silent or cheering, it has been disappointing behaviour too. It is one thing to say a comment is not permitted when the case is before the court. It is quite another response to endorse in private communication or by silence the conduct of a regional office when that conduct could destroy an innocent family and when the outcome will surely be something for which Polak and Dutoit have to answer down the road. Polak of course will be the one who faces the press. Her answers under fire have been curt and clinical. She will likely ask for a different ministry post when Falcon wins the Liberal premier candidacy. Good governance is not something that we have seen from MCFD with regard to Paul and Zabeth Bayne and their children. For the countless other families, I wish I had assurance that an NDP government would give us something better. NDP's track record with MCFD is similarly grievous. It's a dismal picture. 

Zabeth brings a child into into this dark world because it needs the light that only this child can bring.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

JOIN THE CONVERSATION / Part 387 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Please tell your friends to read this blog on a regular basis, to become interested in the cause represented here.


Help the Conversation by Promoting, Listening and Speaking Out.

GPS has over 145,000 hits so far, sometimes 1,000 per day. Some of you envision a movement of ordinary people with a voice loud enough to demand that legislators and government representatives will listen and respond with changes to the way the best interests of children is understood and administered in this province.

Yes of course, this particular GPS blog is dedicated to the return of three children to Paul and Zabeth Bayne. Yet the blog has become more than their story. It has become a story telling forum and a comment platform for countless other people.

In griping initially, I realized that the developing concerns that I had about child welfare and child protection in particularly, at least the way I saw it operative with respect to the Baynes, was more than a single family issue. Hundreds of families have been struggling to recover children from a Ministry that is so powerfully endorsed and equipped and bureaucratic that the Ministry work is invariably adversarial. It could and should be far more grace and compassion oriented. If it were it would evoke responses in kind from clients rather than the vitriolic reaction of helpless parents and the anguished cries of desperate children.

We are within weeks of learning whether the Baynes' hopes of a reestablished family will become a reality. It has been slightly over three years since the children were removed. I will be sure to let you know when the ruling is delivered. In the meanwhile, other sympathetic parents and suffering parents, and supporters, and advocates for change, and Ministry employees, and journalists and interested readers are stopping by at this blog as at so many others. Perhaps a movement can develop, an exponential swelling of genuine concerns to improve services to families and children and parents that is articulated well enough that our government, whoever forms it in the next election, cannot and will not want to ignore.

invite others to JOIN THE CONVERSATION - Perhaps we can be the Transformation

Thursday, December 2, 2010

AN OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE / Part 386 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Photo taken during visitation in 2010
Today I am making a fresh appeal on behalf of the Baynes.

Many people have kindly contributed to the Bayne Trust Fund during the past year. No monies are directed to the Baynes for personal use. Trustees have administered the trust funds for legal expenses as defined by the Trust.

Zabeth (classical concert pianist) would have performed another fund raising piano concert but that is inadvisable at this stage in her pregnancy. Some of you have been asking how you can give a financial gift to the Baynes. Here is my appeal.

Dear Friends of Paul and Zabeth. As you read this posting perhaps you feel that you can become involved at another level.
Three Joint Trustees were appointed to set up and to manage a Bayne Trust Fund with a Chartered Bank, and the Fund is compliant with all legal requirements of Canada Revenue Agency and is governed in accordance with the law of the Province of British Columbia.
Their defence has been a costly one. While their lawyer was a gracious contributor of his time and skills, The Campaign for Love and for Justice has still incurred legal and related expenses for which the Baynes themselves have not had the resources. Can you help the Baynes with a financial donation?
Donations will be accepted by deposit to this trust account at any branch of TD Canada Trust.
TD Canada Trust [bank # 004]
Continental Centre Branch [branch # 9713]
Account Number [6415554]
Cheques should be made payable to: "Charter Lau, Kenny Chiu, Marvin Hunt In Trust For Paul and Zabeth Bayne" ; OR "Lau, Chiu, Hunt ITF Bayne"
Cheques can also be posted to
Lau, Chiu, Hunt in trust for Bayne
9406 Pauleshin Cres, Richmond, BC V7E 6P2
Thank you on behalf of Paul and Zabeth and their children,
Dr. Ron Unruh

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

TURPEL-LAFOND SETS A STANDARD FOR MCFD? Part 385 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

It is the job of the Representative of Children and Youth to provide a report on the Ministry of Children and Family Development that is an independent, and objective assessment as well as a document of advice. It is a progress report. It is a report card by which to inform the Legislature as well as the MCFD itself, and it is a public report so that all of us may know whether this vital Ministry is fulfilling its mandate.

Because the establishment of the Representative's position and the hiring of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was simultaneous with the Hughes Review and Recommendations of 2006, this report is appraising the progress of MCFD in accomplishing the specific 62 recommendations resultant from the Hughes Review. I told you yesterday that she will not use the recommendations for any future measurement of MCFD because MCFD has abandoned them.

The Representative of Children and Youth considers that the MCFD has willfully disconnected from the Hughes recommendations, and in her report she is concerned that MCFD is presently positioned to make lofty promises but is showing no evidence of improved outcomes. She writes that “There is insufficient evidence of appropriate budgeting, workforce management or clarity around expectations for non-governmental service providers. All of this is compounded by recent budget pressures and new priorities on fiscal restraint.”

I have lifted the next two paragraphs directly from her report, pgs. 6-8.
That entire report can be read at this link.
The Representative is not expecting MCFD to achieve a standard beyond reach."
There is no such thing as a perfect child welfare system. But an effective system has some essential characteristics, and these were articulated clearly in the Hughes Review. A well-functioning child welfare system meets the obligations established in legislation by:
• establishing a clear mandate
• guaranteeing children and families equitable and consistent access to core services
• establishing service expectations and standards to ensure consistency
• establishing effective structures and systems to support the services, including adequate
supervision and ongoing training
• allocating appropriate resources, including adequate and qualified staff
• achieving reasonable outcomes
• reporting on outcomes achieved at the level of the child, particularly for children at risk
• maintaining transparency in the delivery of services, and
• monitoring performance and using data to improve services.

These are the fundamental elements of the system that the Representative will continue to monitor in the interests of transparency and public accountability. The Representative is not confident that these components are currently in place given the level of reporting and accountability the ministry has provided.