This month the child welfare ministry in B.C. has been censured for sickening misconduct in a decades old litany of disturbing stories. This time it was for defiance and deceptive of the courts and supplying four children into the hands of their abusive father. The public and the media are outraged, well perhaps only annoyed. I'm not convinced too many people take this Ministry's chronic dysfunction seriously. Yet Premier Clark sounded sincerely disconcerted by Judge Walker's pronouncement of culpability against the Ministry. Both the Minister of Children, Hon. Stephanie Cadieux and Premier Clark pledged to conduct a review. Well of course. But I suspect that it is merely a bubble that will burst.
My preference was for Stephanie Cadieux to call Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the Representative of Children and Youth, to do the review. That seemed a natural fit, a credible choice. The representative is the official watchdog over the MCFD, a position made necessary by previous blundering case management by the Ministry. She critiques the Ministry, so this has become, not a collegial but rather a combative relationship. I do understand why Ms. Cadieux and the Premier and her advisors chose not to take that course. The representative already stated opinions that bordered on verdict during her media comments. For instance, “This is in some ways a new low for the child welfare system in B.C." …. "This is a child welfare ministry that for some time has felt that it doesn’t have to answer to independent oversight or to a court.”
The review will be conducted by Bob Plecas. That's fascinating since Mr. Plecas was the person who was hired twenty years ago by former NDP Premier Glen Clark to affect a monumental reorganization of five ministries, 4,600 positions and $1.4 billion in programs and he did, by producing the stand-alone Ministry for child welfare that we know today. Of course he isn't responsible for the plethora of problems associated with MCFD, but he is now given the task of conducting an independent assessment of the Ministry. My concern is that he has no authority to make changes, or even to call for changes. He is a reviewer. He is like a consultant. In the end the government will choose to listen, learn and change, or listen and disregard the outcome. That is precisely what has happened with past reviews and that is the bursting of the bubble.