Friday, July 31, 2015


Bob Plecas
Recommendations are valueless when they are ignored. Bob Plecas' independent review will contain recommendations for improvements and change for the Ministry of Children and Family Services. I have zero confidence that the recommendations will bring change within the Ministry. Plecas' work will be thorough and predictably commendable but it will have been ineffectual unless the Premier Christy Clark, and the Minister Hon. Stephanie Cadieux and preferably the Deputy Minister Mark Sieben construe the Plecas recommendations as beneficial and indispensable and determine to affect them. They must make them happen.

MCFD's key players disregarded an earlier independent review conducted on Ministry. If you think I'm blowing steam, I remind you that in 2005 the Gordon Campbell administration faced media accusation that its policies and practice had put vulnerable children at risk. Judge Ted Hughes was appointed in November 2005, to conduct an independent review of MCFD. He adjudicated that the administration had mismanaged the Ministry, yet in the years that followed there was virtually no evidence of action taken with regard to the 62 Hughes' recommendations to improve the "safety and well-being of B.C.'s children, youth and families." Premier Campbell should have demanded compliance by MCFD senior staff rather than to permit the standoff that occurred between Deputy Minister Lesley Dutoit and Representative of Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. He didn't make that demand because he had hired Lesley Dutoit first as a consultant and later as Deputy Ministry, and she came with strong credentials as epitomized by her seminar theme, "Transforming the Child Welfare System," which she delivered to senior bureaucrats.

Leslie Dutoit, Tom Christenson, Gordon Campbell 

By July 19, 2007, three months after the Hughes Report was published, Turpel-Lafond concluded after meeting with Dutoit, that MCFD intended to ignore Hughes' recommendations in favour of a Dutoit transformation. Dutoit did not use Hughes' Review as a blueprint for transformation of the Ministry but rather worked on her own vision to facilitate and accelerate the transformation of the system for children, youth and families in B.C. with which this ministry began some years earlier. In November 2007, Turpel-Lafond expressed her concerns publically, stating there is "too little evidence within MCFD of a coordinated effort to implement numerous Hughes recommendations where its leadership is required."

Well that is history and so is Dutoit. Two replacement Deputy Ministers followed her. Furthermore, After Tom Christenson, Mary Polak and Mary McNeill were Ministers of Children and Family for short terms and now it's Cadieux's assignment. This time however, Cadieux and Clark and Sieben must think clearly and responsibly. They must not circle the wagons and become defensive. They must be open-minded for the best interests of children and families. That is their mandate. The case upon which Justice Paul Walker lowered the boom on MCFD is the first case in Canadian history where a parent has succeeded in holding a child protection agency liable for misfeasance, and this one will cost the government millions of dollars in damages and legal fees to be paid to a mother and her four children. The Ministry took her children away from her safe place and put them in the care of their abusive father, case proven and ruled upon. This cannot be dismissed lightly. The media won't allow it. Bloggers won't allow it. Citizens must not allow it. This Ministry and this government cannot neglect the Plecas recommendations that should be forthcoming. So much depends upon the depth to which Mr. Plecas probes and the measure of his ability to remain independent.

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