Minister is destroying trust

Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson takes the Minister of Children and Family Development to task for the handling of a case involving abused infant.

All people in this province need to have a basic level of trust in government services provided under the Ministry of Children and Family Development for the good people working there to do the job of supporting and protecting vulnerable children.

Unfortunately the Minister is doing a good job of destroying that trust.

The case in point is one that hard to believe. After six years of presiding over a custody trial then a civil lawsuit trial, a BC judge ruled last month the Ministry defied his court order and returned an infant girl to her father who subsequently sexually abused her. It was a scathing judgement including that the Ministry fought to keep the child and her siblings from her mother by “inaccurately portraying the mother as mentally ill.”

These are the facts of the case as found by the trial judge. On Aug. 7 Minister Cadieux announced the government will appeal the decision. At the time the Minister said the appeal is “not about the family involved.”

But then last week the mother received a letter from a government lawyer saying all the facts in the case were in dispute under the appeal. So the Minister is saying the judge was wrong about the sexual abuse and wrong about her Ministry portraying the mother as mentally ill.

Seems like it is all about the family contrary to what the Minister said.

On top of this cruel behavior, the Minister has not provided support services to the mother and her children since Justice Walker’s decision in mid-July. No counselling or other types of support.

And the supposed independent review announced by Minister Cadieux on July 24 has turned into a debacle with the mother initiating a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner prompting the Minister to designate the review head, Bob Plecas, as a director under her Ministry which calls into question how independent he can be, especially when his review should include the Minister’s behaviour.

It’s a trust busting exercise all around. The Minister should do the right thing, offer the support services the family needs and request Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the truly independent Representative for Children and Youth, investigate to get to the bottom of this horrific case.