Thursday, January 5, 2012


Should governments enforce limits on how long children can be kept in temporary care?

That’s the premier question following the Bayne story which was aired by Kathy Tomlinson last night on CBC’s Go Public broadcast. It was an article written by the CBC Community Team  at 4:36 PM January 3, 2012  and it received   Of course the question generates reader response. It begs for response. But what an undiscerning question. Why ask the question at all? It is precisely because enforcement is a given, a natural expectation, that we have laws and codified prescriptions. They are legislated for the purpose of compliance by the citizens of a society regardless of whether one is an employee of the government in power or one of its agencies or is a civilian dwelling in the region governed by that government. There are penalties for contravening laws and regulations. From what kind of understanding of citizenry and governance does such a question arise? What could possibly suggest an immunity for child protection social workers and their supervisors from absolute compliance with the legislated limitations dictated by the Child, Family and Community Services Act? If there are mitigating circumstances peculiar to a specific case then there is latitude afforded to MCFD to seek a court order that extends limitations for holding on to a child. I am prepared to say that even at the risk of overlooking severely unusual circumstances, there should categorically be no allowance for keeping a child in protective care for a time longer than that allowed by law or legislated act.

So, YES, governments should enforce limits on how long children can be kept in temporary care.

One commenter with a screen name of Jon rod, in answering this question left this remark on the CBC page. The issue is not the length of time children are in temporary care but ensuring that it is safe to return them home. In this case, the head injury to the infant included internal bleeding, which is consistent with shaken baby syndrome. The ministry took action to protect the child, which is what it is supposed to do. The parents obviously chose to pursue a very adversarial course of action which was a major reason why the case took so long to resolve.

I responded to that in this fashion.

For Jon rod: Child protection (MCFD) did respond to a medical professional’s report of suspected abuse. The gravity and complexities of the girl’s injuries necessitated significant care. For some years the triad of symptoms has defaulted to a diagnosis of shaken baby which can only lead to one conclusion. A caregiver is at fault. Progress in mediating a solution with the parents was impeded by MCFD’s recurring insistence that the parents acknowledge harming their child. What you have deemed as adversarial action by the parents is an inaccurate label since they could not admit to something they maintained was untrue and therefore no course of action was possible to them other than appealing as widely as possible for someone to listen to their agony. Internal bleeding is consistent with shaken baby syndrome but not exclusively so, since other causations can account for this but MCFD was unwilling to pursue these possibilities. Sticking to one professional’s opinion, MCFD contravened timelines of their own provincially legislated ACT and yes the length of time that these children were in care became the issue because it was not temporary, and the Director had made application for permanent care still based on SBS. These parents were required to find their own experts to dispute the allegations resulting in Judge Thomas Crabtree, now Chief Justice of BC ruling that the child had not been shaken.

I continue.
painting by Esther Palmer
"Any assessment of the Baynes’ reactions such as yours, offered four years after the presenting concern itself, can be misguided without a serious look back. It must not be forgotten that profound personal tragedy, horror and disbelief became the Baynes’ 24/7 companions in the early weeks of the drama back in 2007. In October 2007 when Paul and Zabeth Bayne’s three children were removed from their home and from their custody, their domestic world had crashed. Because of the nature of the medical diagnosis, ‘Shaken Baby,’ the RCMP were initially involved. Both Paul and Zabeth were arrested and held overnight. This was so unbearably traumatic for Zabeth that she required medical attention. They were released. The charges were dropped due to what RCMP called insufficient grounds. Gradually the Baynes grew their resolve to seek the return of their children, to assert their innocence, to provide reason for the Ministry to change its mind which would include accumulating evidence that the medical diagnosis was wrong. The Director Bruce McNeill, whose name appeared on the application for permanent custody of the children which propelled the case to court, never surrendered the commitment to a SBS diagnosis. That was a position that refused to engage with other medical opinions that disputed the triad of symptoms being explained exclusively by an SBS diagnosis. The Baynes proved themselves to be honourable in all of their dealings with the public, with the media, with the Ministry of Children’s personnel. I am pretty sure that the Baynes’ forthrightness, composure, stalwart conduct, commitment to preserve their reputation made bureaucrats livid. Ultimately goodness rises to the surface and it did in this case. I am convinced that it will for Derek Hoare and his wife Amie who want their daughter Ayn to be given back to them. This autistic child does not need to be away from her dad, does not benefit from this separation, and does not deserve the psychological and emotional anguish of being apart from her family. The MCFD is wrong, wrong, wrong. I have lived long enough to understand the circle the wagon defence is instinctive even for good people who have made a glaring mistake. There is denial, blame-casting and blind delays. That's an appalling reputation for one of our government departments to carry. It doesn't need to be this way if goodness rises.”     


  1. As an aside, sometimes it is the parents who have to make the difficult decision and request the delay in order to have the time needed to gather evidence that they are fit parents of good character and to be able to refute the so-called "evidence" of the child protection agency since unfortunately, they are assumed guilty and have to prove their innocence. If they don't take the extra time to properly prepare their case, then they risk losing their kids forever instead.

    The tough question is what happens to the children after these legislated time limits for kids to be in care are exceeded.
    What is the default decision?

    Are they to be returned to the parents automatically since the child protection agency has failed to prove a case of child endangerment in a timely fashion?
    (i.e. parents innocent until proven guilty)

    Or will the courts continue to err on the side of caution and then default to the will of the child protection agency and make the kids automatic crown wards? Which is what happens today with temporary care orders and many permanent orders.
    (i.e. Parents guilty by default)

    I believe the legislation needs to clearly state that if the case cannot be proven within a reasonable time, then there likely is no case, and the children should be automatically returned to the parents by default.

    One problem, is that there is nothing to stop a vindictive worker/director from continuing to harrass a family and re-apprehend the children under a new pre-text, thereby starting the process all over again from ground zero (and thus effectively circumventing any time limits anyway, since the kids can now be held for x number of days again).

    What is needed are a set of parental rights enshrined as part of human rights or our constitution in order to protect parents from such abuses of child protection legislation. Might be interesting for another's day's blog to figure out the words needed to codify not only parental rights, but also parental responsibilities.

  2. I wish you were not anonymous.

    You have been insightful in your comments this morning.
    Repeatedly I and others have maintained that unlike other areas of law, cases within child protection reverse the fundamental principal of innocence until proven to be guilty. Example: RCMP dropped preliminary charges against the Baynes because there was not enough evidence to proceed with a criminal charge. Nevertheless, MCFD could and did remove all children based on the hypothesis that one or both parents must be guilty of harming their child.

    You ask the next question and you answer it. In cases where the time limit has already been exceeded, what should child protection agents do? Continue to assume a risk probability despite lack of evidence and therefore continue the protection? Well, yes CPA does this. So I like your recommendation of a legislated return of a child when evidence is not forthcoming past a certain time limit.

    And yes I agree that there is room within the existing legislation that makes it possible for vindictiveness to legally overrule justice. I would certainly like to hear you on the topic of parental rights and responsibilities. You have my permission to write. Go ahead.

  3. See

    The issue is that in the eyes of the law, parents are not accused of anything, therefore are deemed not to require charter protections criminal accusations evoke.

    I posted an in-depth financial commentary on the CBC story, THAT comment was not posted. My previous comment was.

    MCFD must be sued to verify that checks and balances work.

  4. HiRon; I have not been writing because I have been busy writing on the CBC blog. You would never guess my shining pseudonym of course.
    Anyway I suggest that parents and grandparents do not need many rights. Children have a ton of rights, which include the right to be raised in their own family, unless there are compelling reasons why they should not be.They have a right to kinship contact, including grandparents. They also have a right to have help extended to the parents to keep them within the family.
    If there is an allegation of neglect, or deliberate injury to a child, then in a sense the parents are being accused of wrong doing. Here, in theory, the Child Family and Community Services Act is supposed to protect their rights. They are entitled to prompt disclosure of the reasons for taking action and they are entitled to due process within a reasonable time framework. I know what your readers are going to say. "Don't make me laugh." The problem is not that the rights and protections are not there in law. The problem is that the system is so bogged down in process that it has become dysfunctional. Ignorant or vindictive social workers can never be held to account and it is always the children who suffer the most. Institutionalised child abuse, such as in the Bayne case and in the Ayn Hoare case is intolerable. Who can fix it. There needs to be political will, concern among the judiciary and sustained public outrage. The media can help, but there is a limit to what they can do. No indeed, influential people like Mary McNeill must develop a passion for justice which exceeds her political ambitions. So must Adrian Dix, Christie Clarke and members of the legislature from all parties. They must insist that the legislation that they enact is followed in letter and in spirit and that if necessary that it be changed to plug all the existing loopholes. Until we can achieve a better enforcement of children's rights, the discussion of parental rights is academic.

  5. This is anonymous January 5, 2012 7:36 am.
    Unfortunately, I have to remain anonymous for now.
    My family is still subject to a year long supervision order.
    Our kids were taken and placed in care for almost 2 years.
    With nothing but delay after delay in the courts.
    So I can feel for what the Baynes had to endure, but can't imagine 4 years.

    The agency, in their eyes, was adamant that my wife was "guilty" and did not believe anything we had to say.
    There was no longer any trust between us and the social worker.
    Because my wife would not admit her "guilt" to them, they refused to work with us to return the kids
    They insisted upon making them crown wards.
    It's scary when a government agency is holding your kids hostage (at least that's what it felt like).
    It's scary seeing your kids so emotionally depressed and distraught.
    It's frustrating not being allowed to soothe their fears, to tell them that we were doing everything we could to bring them home.
    We had to act on our own initiative, so that we could hope to convince the courts that we were good parents.
    We had strong support from family and friends.
    We took every parenting course under the sun and never missed a class.
    We got our own experts lined up to refute their "experts".
    We documented everything...
    We never ever missed a single visit with the kids over the 2 years they were in care, even when the visits were supervised in that little room, or the times changed, or that it sometimes caused difficulties taking the time off work to do so.
    We made it clear that we loved our kids and were not going to abandon them.
    Eventually they decided that "things had changed" and that the kids were "no longer at risk", so just before trial, they returned them to us.
    Coincidently, we were told our kids would be coming home on the same day that the Baynes were re-united.

    However, since a trial was never held, I feel that we were never "proven innocent".
    The allegations will no doubt remain on the agency's file as "fact" to be used again should any future allegations magically appear.
    And with the supervision order, there is always the fear that the kids can be taken away again using the slightest little excuse.
    Even after our file is closed, there will always be that fear that the nightmare could happen again.

    My personal thanks to the Baynes for going public and sharing their story, and to you for being not only their champion, but for being the voice of so many of us.
    Although the parallels in our lives scared me sometimes (especially after they apprehended little Josiah, as we had just learned we were expecting, and I feared they would apprehend our new baby too), you also gave me hope.

    The system is broken.
    It needs to be changed.

  6. Ron, CBC is quite selective in publishing comments. They haven't posted two comments of mine that were nothing but facts supported by financial statements issued by both provincial and federal governments. Freedom of speech is history in this country. Orwellian vision of the world is incorporated by our "elected governments" at a frightening speed.

  7. I agree that things need to change. I have been fighting C.A.S. for 8 years now, and I have done nothing wrong. My husband did, and he admitted to it and went to jail for what he did. I have to sit back and wait for the society to deem me a good mother, but they keep my youngest two children who are 2 years old, and 6 months old. because the society thinks I "might" neglect them. There is no history of abuse or neglect from me to any child. So why take my children with no proof?

    Time for change.

    Rally for C.A.S. accountability
    April 3, 2012

    611 9th Avenue East Owen Sound
    9am - 4pm


I encourage your comments using this filter.
1. Write politely with a sincere statement, valid question, justifiable comment.
2. Engage with the blog post or a previous comment whether you agree or disagree.
3. Avoid hate, profanity, name calling, character attack, slander and threats, particularly when using specific names.
4. Do not advertise