Thursday, August 11, 2011


Doug Christie
Ray Ferris
At last weekend’s conference entitled, EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE AND SOCIAL INVESTIGATION, two of the speakers during the Saturday morning schedule, were Ray Ferris and Doug Christie. These have become friends of mine, casual, men whom I respect. Both of these men as many of you now know, have been instrumental in assisting the Baynes particularly through the course of the multi-months court hearing in 2010. Ray’s knowledge of the Child, Family and Community Services Act, and the operations of the Ministry of Children and Family Development child protection process was immensely helpful to the Baynes as well as to Mr. Christie. Mr. Christie’s courtroom experience, his logic and perceptivity as well as communication skill was crucial to the case outcome.

Ray was first to the podium. He has been retired for years but his mind and his memory are sharp, informed and packed with common sense and life experience in child welfare and child protection. He spoke with illustrative material about the contrast between the way CP was practiced when he was a social worker and director, and the MCFD conduct he observes today. This was not merely an anecdotal trip to the world of the way we were. Rather, it was an instructive message pointing to the humanity that he perceives is missing from some of the handling of parents, families and children today in British Columbia. We often hear about excessive workloads today. When he was a social worker he had 250 cases and covered eight aboriginal communities and traveled 250 miles every week and did a two-day tour each week. Today a staff of thirty handle a caseload eight times as large as in his day in a much increased population. Each social worker still has considerably fewer cases than he did. Ferris says that staff don’t know what they are doing and managers arrive at their level of incompetence all too obviously. He acknowledges that social work is burdened today with bureaucratic administration. Further, social work has become more reactive than proactive. The result is attrition. There is great staff turnover among social workers. He read accounts from his book, “The Art of Child Protection.” He is incensed by what has happened to the Baynes over these four years. (PLEASE NOTE RAY'S CORRECTION TO MY DATA IN HIS COMMENT THAT FOLLOWS).

Then Doug Christie stepped up. It was apparent from the outset that a fire burned within the man. It is an understatement to describe his speech as passionate. He told me before he began that he wouldn’t speak from a manuscript but extemporaneously from a few remarks on a cheat sheet. Good thing, because he is best that way. He is a gifted communicator. He showed himself vulnerable, tender, and infuriated by injustice and a system that is shamefully operated. He is a strong advocate of free speech, believing it to be essential for the communication of the truth. He described MCFD child protection in B.C. as the age of the tyranny of bureaucracy. Courage is a shield against tyranny he told us. And people like Paul and Zabeth Bayne have had to maintain that courage for four years. During his forty years of legal practice he has enjoyed the opportunity to meet courageous people, two of whom have been Paul and Zabeth. He thinks highly of them. He even said that we all owe them a debt of gratitude because they have survived against the most despotic ministry in British Columbia, the most dictatorial, and most dangerous ministry. He said the Baynes and others like them have had to stand up and refuse to submit in order to protect the family and not just the children. Keeping four children from their parents by reason of suspicion, assuming a non-accidental injury, founding a continuing custody application on one unproven and theoretical medical diagnosis, failing to do the due diligence of investigating other potential causes, infuriated Christie and broke his heart. He is the kind of person who would give his time at no cost if he could afford to do so, as he did here. (PLEASE NOTE ROBERT HAMILTON, WHO SERVED AS BAYNE'S LEGAL COUNSEL FROM MARCH TO JULY HAS BEEN APPOINTED TO THE PROVINCIAL COURT BENCH. Thanks to Anon 10:06 PM for the news).

These men stand tall.

Christie praised Paul and Zabeth for not giving up but for speaking out.

Freedom of speech is still an imperative right for Canadians. The audience has been limited until now. In late September 2011, CBC’s The Fifth Estate will do a documentary on Shaken Baby Syndrome and the audience will be much larger.


  1. Ron; I much appreciate the kind words but you have the statistics all wrong.
    When I started work in 1957 we had two staff. I carried the workload for Smithers and West as far as Kitwanga, some 110 km distant. My supervisor supervised Smithers and Burns Lake 160 km to the east and picked up the caseload in the small communities en route.
    Today thirty staff have replaced us and the population is about double. So the staff to population ratio is about 8 times as large. In my day, if I got a letter asking for help by Wednesday morning, I would make a home visit and do an eligibility study on Wednesday or Thurday and usually a cheque would be mailed on Friday ready for pick up at the post office the next day. Today, caseloads are much smaller but it takes two weeks to get a cheque and foster parents complain that social workers do not answer their phone calls. Social workers always complain that their caseloads are too big, regardless of the size. When you see the wastage of time and resources in the Bayne case, I find this hard to believe.

  2. Robert Hamilton has been appointed as a BC Provincial in Surrey as of July 28th.

  3. thank u all for speaking out and fighting... :)


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