Ministry of Children and Family Development that contains a department called child protection. Our Law Enforcement is not local policing but rather the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Our judicial system is commendable but besieged by too many cases and not enough judges and not enough available court time. We have lawyers, oh oh ...do we have lawyers, and many of them have tapped into the lucrative contracts with MCFD. Their interest therefore is not expediency, and they do not give a second thought to extended delays in process and what that may mean to a family in terms of heartache, relational distress or financial crippling. RCMP and MCFD have a working arrangement in child protection cases that when an apprehension must be made, officers will accompany social workers, making the situation so much more intimidating and traumatic.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development operates within the scope of a policy which prescribes its work and guides its process theoretically. In practice MCFD predictably re-interprets the policy with seeming puzzling impunity. At least twice in the past 25 years, there has been a major judicial Inquiry because of the Ministry’s inefficiency and inferior work and scores of recommendations have been made. Many if not most of these have been complied with at least in a cursory fashion. Yet there are so many glaring examples still of case mismanagement or simply poor judgement within a ministry that can throw a cloak of secrecy over all of it. One of our strongest complaints is one which MCFD denies and that is that rather than using the removal of a child as a last resort it is in too many cases the default response to a concern. That begins these lengthy and harmful separations.
|B.C. Premier, the Hon. Christy Clark|
|Hon. Mary McNeil|
When I advocated by blogging for the return of four children to Paul and Zabeth Bayne over a two year period, there were over 300,000 hits to the site, many of whom were from government offices. So, responsible people do pay attention once there is a volume of awareness. My own network of key contacts across the provinces also generated public outcry and periodically the Bayne Campaign for Justice as the Blog was dubbed, called for correspondence to key government officials and offices and they were inundated. Moreover, leading news sources and journalists were apprised of this ongoing story of injustice. I am happy to tell you that this past August that family of six was reunited after four years of separation broken only by the weekly visitation. Newspapers and News networks generally withhold comment when a case is before the court. However, if the story is compelling, then network news hounds may feel constrained to air it, as did CBC TV National and provincial, Global national and provincial two years before the children were returned. When the case went to court in 2010, all news agencies stayed away from it – a matter of policy I concluded, while the case was before the court. Some major reporting will yet be done on this case because the case was an horrific miscarriage of justice.
That blog post and related ones cited there express the hope some of us had that a page might be turned with this new crew. The truth is that in all of these day-to-day cases these individuals have no direct involvement and no knowledge until for one reason or another, attention is brought to them. That’s where letter writing and phone calls come in. When the ministry becomes aware of a tsunami of support for a family and criticism of a ministry action, they at least respond with a standard form letter.
The law in BC is that anyone with a concern or a suspicion or a vague report about the care of a child must call that in to MCFD. You can appreciate how vulnerable that renders the general public. Anyone without knowledge but merely a perception can make a call and MCFD must and will respond. That response is customarily inquiry at the family residence and one would assume due process before the next step. In Ayn’s and Derek’s case, social workers came to Derek following Ayn’s adventure over the fence, ostensibly to talk with him, BUT they had a custody release form ready in their portfolio. It was a foregone conclusion they would remove Ayn. Since he refused, they surreptitiously apprehended her at her school when Derek was not there. You see, it’s that kind of action that alarms fair-minded people and makes all of us suspicious and cynical and Angry!
|Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond|
If you want to try a columnist, try Michael Smyth of The Province, firstname.lastname@example.org. There are many others whom some of our friends here might recommend. Social justice in theory is idealistic yet it is grounded even if it is somewhat imperfectly in public policies that have substance and consequence to individuals and families and communities, but because those polices are abused by those who should be administered by them, we lose confidence, maybe hope, and social justice seems empty and meaningless. I agree with the remark that Derek needs the best possible lawyer familiar with Family Case law and MCFD. The Baynes had a pro bono lawyer in Doug Christie without whom the happy resolution could not have occurred. He is unavailable due to personal illness.
Derek's email: email@example.com
Fundraising email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEA FOR AYN: http://on.fb.me/pUnuk0
THE PETITION: http://bit.ly/mrfdlE
VISIT OUR BLOG: http://bit.ly/qqO7ig
DOCUMENT LIST: http://on.fb.me/nQassx