Monday, August 10, 2015

OUTRAGEOUS BUT NO SURPRISE - MCFD's appeal of the Walker Ruling

(This is an opinion piece by my colleague and guest writer, Ray Ferris whom you know as the author of 'The Art of Child Protection,' and as a frequent contributor here, as well as an advisor to countless parents as well as lawyer and members of parliament.)

Hon. Stephanie Cadieux, Minister MCFD
    Many people are expressing outrage and horror at the appeal of the Walker judgement. I was fully expecting it for various reasons. First it is just what they always do. It is politics and has nothing to do with child welfare. Second it buys them time to work out a strategy and they count on time dulling the public awareness and lessens the political risk. Besides, they have already squandered a few million dollars of our money, so what is an extra million to protect that investment? The third reason is that they have already proved that they have terrible judgement, so we should expect another piece of bad judgment.

    I feel a bit sorry for poor Stephanie Cadieux. She made none of the decisions, but people are howling for her blood. All she can do is utter the lame platitudes prepared by her deputy minister and approved by the premier’s office. Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond may pour scorn on them but it runs off them like water off a duck’s back. The other device for buying time is to have the inquiry under Bob Plecas. It was carefully designed to go nowhere. The mandate was to review the policies and procedures of the MCFD and recommend changes. How does this relate to the Walker judgement? It doesn’t. Judge Paul Walker said that staff ignored court orders; misrepresented things to the court; lost their way professionally and ignored the facts when their minds were made up. In other words they were ignorant, insensitive and lacking a moral compass. So how can that be remedied by a policy and procedures fix? I can just see it on page 2008 of the Policy Manual. “Staff will act with sensitivity and good judgement at all times and will not lie to the court unless it is absolutely necessary.” The administrative fix has never worked and it never will.

    Turpel-Lafond told them that when you are in a deep hole, you should stop digging. Quite right, because the Child and Youth Representative is herself a judge and knows how the system works. You can bet your boots that those appeal court judges have read everything in the press and they are probably struggling to suppress their disgust and maintain impartiality. There is no guarantee that they will give leave to proceed with the appeal and no guarantee that they will let it drag on. So the government could soon be back at square one. If that happens, all they can do is to dispute the amount of money that is being asked for and, make no mistake, it will be in the millions. I already know the amount of money they offered in an out of court settlement before the misfeasance trial began. It was a lot, but not nearly enough to cover costs.

    Ron, I want to finish this entry on a positive note, so I will ask your readers to raise their hats and glasses to the Jack Hittrich Law Group, that carried the case gratis for millions of dollars worth of legal time. They are very high on my list of heroes.

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