Thursday, July 30, 2015


*BY guest writer RAY FERRIS

Hon. Stephanie Cadieux
Being the minister for children and families has always been a poisoned portfolio, which has despoiled the budding careers of various politicians. Ministers have virtually no powers, yet they have to take all the heat for a chronically incompetent senior administration of career bureaucrats. The periodic child welfare scandals that erupt cause frantic wriggling and writhing, but no effective change.

Judge Hughes
How naive Judge Hughes was when he said that they needed to halt the turnover of Ministers and Deputy Ministers to provide stability and leadership.
Career bureaucrats do not provide leadership, but they provide process and spin. Ministers are not allowed to interfere, because politics and professional decisions must be kept apart.

After yet one more nasty scandal, Premier Gordon Campbell tried the new broom approach. He brought in two high profile women.
Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond
One was Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond. The other was Leslie Dutoit, who was imported from South Africa with great fanfare. I forget who the minister was at the time. Well it was not long before Dutoit drew attention. First, because of the lavish refurbishment of her office at great public expense. Secondly, because she was extremely controlling and liked everyone to know who was boss. The province used to have head honchos for child protection. Regional Directors answered to a provincial director. After one or two of these dumped the Minister into the muck, the powers were totally decentralized to the regions. Another of Gordon Campbell’s theories of the month.

Eventually the friction between Turpel-Lafond and Dutoit was getting too much media attention and when Christie Clark became Premier, she did not waste much time in firing Dutoit and putting Mary Polak in charge. Polak was a staunch ally. She also brought in a new deputy minister and reinstated the position of Provincial Director. Both positions were hailed as blue-eyed boys who would set everything right. Things went well at first and a new era of peace, love and harmony between Polak and Turpel-Lafond was hailed.

Hon. Stephanie Cadieux
Storm clouds began to gather on the horizon. The Director was losing a nasty case in front of Judge Paul Walker. The case had dragged on for 65 days and was costing millions. The media were waiting ready to pounce. It soon became evident that the case would be lost and a media storm would erupt. What to do? Top priority became to get Polak and the blue-eyed boys out of harm's way. They disappeared, just as quickly as they came and with no fanfare. Stephanie Cadieux was given the poisoned portfolio and she would have to carry the flak. Presumably, the new Deputy Minister appointed was considered expendable. Polak had been insulated and Cadieux had to take the flak from two wounding judgments. What to do? The old tried and true solution. Promise an inquiry with a very limited mandate. Fob it off and people soon forget. As one letter in the Times Colonist said, she thought Judge Walker had already held an inquiry and written a report on it. The only thing hanging in the balance now is whether or not to spend more millions on an appeal, or whether to cut the losses and pay up quietly. In any event, nothing will change and the incompetent senior staff will all get their bonuses as usual.

*Ray Ferris is a retired child-protection worker and the author of The Art of Child Protection.
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  1. There is so much hiding in the background, and this ministry doesn't appear to have to be responsible to anyone. So much tax payers money used to drag families through court, most in need of legal aid. It needs to stop. Unfortunately this power comes across as a form of bullying because they know they can with little to no consequences for actions.

    1. Hope, thanks for the comment … it is an alarming and repeated problem with this Ministry. Click the GPS title and you will go to the current topics. I am writing a 6 part series about a case in B.C. which has brought Court judgments against the Ministry.


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