Wednesday, September 18, 2013


We pay good money to operate a government for the people.

We pay our taxes, all of us do, as citizens of the commonwealth, the federal government of Canada, and the British Columbia government for a province that we call home. We love it here and together we are the people.

Our expectations are routine enough. We want reliable representation by ordinary people standing in on our behalf to create and manage respectable law and policy to service people and the communities in which we live.

We value statements by government agencies that have the sound of credibility such as “In the best interests of children.” We believe innocently, naively that all agencies mean what they say, or that all employees within them, operate with authenticity.

Then something like this happens.
Ayn is a child who lives with the disorder called autism, and she was playing in the back yard of the family home. Her father was the custodial parent in charge of her at the time. Her father Derek Hoare, cares for his two other children as well, another of whom is autistic. He failed to see Ayn scale the fence that surrounded the yard and she walked to a neighbour’s yard. Frantically but without success, he looked for her and then called 911. Police responded with ground personnel and a helicopter to search the area. Three hours later, Ayn was found, safe, gratefully so, and she was returned to her father. End of story, correct? No!

Perhaps her wander was indicative of parental negligence? RCMP notified MCFD as a matter of protocol. MCFD dutifully made contact with the parent as part of the investigative responsibility. In Ayn’s and Derek’s case however, the case workers arrived at Derek’s home having already pre-determined that the best interests of the child would be served by removing her temporarily from her parental home. That would insure that medical assessment and possibly treatment could be freely administered.

Derek was incensed and refused to sign the document. That’s natural, understandable. Ayn was taken by MCFD at her school without Derek’s prior knowledge. What are the optics of this action to a parent and to the public? Following the removal of the child, does such ‘best interest of the child’ require that MCFD case workers hesitate or delay or even decline to inform parents about the wellbeing of the child or the progress of the investigation? Why are courtesies practiced on most other societal planes, rejected by MCFD workers when dealing with parents of children in child protection cases?

One child taken and two still at home, because Derek is a responsible father attending to the needs of his children. MCFD acknowledged that parental negligence was not indicated in Ayn’s case. Derek and Ayn had a bond. Yes she was a challenge. If she has needs with which MCFD could assist by way of service provision, could the agency not make that available to Derek, no strings attached. And what possible justification before an impartial court could there be for keeping this child from her parents and brothers for over two years without a court order. If there is a justification, then ‘best interests of the child’ has been run through some linguistic filter unfamiliar to anyone outside the child protection staff room.

(Ray Ferris writes on Thur Sept 19)

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