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.