Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stoddard Online

In my February 23, 2006 editorial on this page I offered my views on the situation regarding the neglect of child care in the province of British Columbia. This followed the inquest of the brutal criminal death of an eighteen month old infant girl, Sherry Charlie, in Port Alberni, at the hands of her uncle entrusted with her care by a government agency.

The government was harshly ctitized by the inquest's findings as a result of this death. The present government under the leadership of premier Gordon Campbell, had previously eliminated the office of Child Commissioner, and as a result, placed the responsibility of child protection under unqualified workers in the community. As a result, there are now in excess of 700 child deaths in the province of British Columbia that have never been investigated. Upon eliminating the office of the Child Commissioner, these files were routinely turned over to the coroner's office for investigation, however, the files mysteriously disappeared or were shelved, with no investigation ever being carried out.

In the last provincial budget, finance minister Carole Taylor stated that she was pouring, in excess of four hundred million dollars into the childrens ministry, when it fact, this figure merely represented what had been taken away, with no new allotment of funds.

Premier Campbell stated that he accepted the responsibility for the shoddy performance of his government, and the danger that children were placed in. He fell short however, of actually agreeing to adhere to the recommendations of the inquest into the death of Sherry Charlie. They were going to do further study.

Last evening I was on the public transit train in Vancouver. There was an announcement on the train from the control centre, requesting that everyone pay attention. The public message was in the form of an "Amber Alert" which is an agressive notification to the public when a child is in jeopardy facing impending danger. In this case the message stated that an infant child had been abducted, and was followed by a detailed description of the person that was being sought, his age, his size, his vehicle and that he may be heading from Vancouver Island to the mainland with this child. As well, when an Amber Alert is issued, all government public address systems carry the alert, as well as electronic highway signs, and all police forces and security personnel are alerted simultaneously.

Fortunately, as a result of this Amber Alert, the police were able to gain information and make an arrest. It was further learned that the child was not necessairly in impending danger, and the person being sought was actually the biological father of the child. It was later announced, that the parents of this child do not have custody of the child, as the child is under the care of the provincial government.

I was immediately curious as to the details of this particular incident. Upon making a couple of phone calls, I learned that this child was indeed in ministry care, and not living with the parents. I also learned something that nauseated me. The parents of this child were on a supervised visit with the child at the government ministry office. This is routine, and I certainly have no issue with parents wanting to visit their children who, for one reason or another, have been placed in government care. I do take issue though, when it is possible to abduct a child from right under the noses of those charged with the child's safety. In this instance, it was possible for the father to simply exit the office with the child. The sickening aspect of this case, is the fact that this incident took place in the city of Port Alberni from the same ministry office that was responsible for little Sherry Charlie's safety in the months before her life was tragically snuffed out.

Heads must roll. The whole affair of child care in British Columbia has eroded beyond repair. Premier Gordon Campbell should be hanging his head in shame. There is no justification for any of this. In my view, every single staff member in that ministry office in Port Alberni connected with child care needs to be immediately fired for dereliction of duty, if in fact, it is proven that they were directly responsible for aspects of this child's safery and protection.

Premier Campbell, it appears that your government has been skirting this issue for a long time. You have allowed your government to carry on in a temerarious fashion for far too long. There is more at stake in British Columbia than the success of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Down deep, you know what you should do, even though because of greed, you won't. Unfortunately, this is a sad reality of what money and power breeds.

Lew Stoddard


Marilyn Beales said...

The story line is the same, just getting worse day by day. Good-bye Premier Campbell. Time for you to go.

Marilyn Beales

David C said...

Lew you are correct, all we hear about is the 2010 Olympics. So sick of hearing about the damned games. Look after our kids at all cost.

David Castelon
Penticton, B. C.

Camile A said...

Terrible situation in B C right now. Don't know whether to cry or vomit.

Camile Ashcroft
Surrey, B. C.

Barry D said...

If you had young children in government care right now Premier Campbell, would you feel they were secure? If your answer is no, then do the honourable thing.

Barry D
Prince George, B. C.

Gerald B said...

Even though young kids cannot vote, you have a duty to protect them.

Gerald Brankin
Prince Rupert, B. C.

F. Day said...

Mr. Stoddard thank you once again for making people more aware of the sloppy attitudes of our government relating especially to the innocent ones, our kids. Makes me cry.

Mrs. F. Day
Dawson Creek, B. C.

Judy B said...

Children who have come to be a ward of provincial governments are no less of a human being than anyone else. Why do governments treat them as such?

Judy Barrymore
Windsor, Ontario

Donald M said...

Why is it usually the kids in society that have to suffer? They go into care usually for their protection and well being, so why is it then, those entrusted with their care turn out to be their worst fears in many cases? Simply, is not a fair situation.

Donald McEacheron
Amherst, Nova scotia

Carol M said...

As a Mom, I weep when I read of things like this, not limited to British Columbia, the legalized abuse is everywhere. We do not set good examples, and Mr. Stoddard I thank you for doing your part in pounding the message home.

If we don't speak against this stuff, we are really condoning it and therefore we are just as guilty.

Carol McIntyre
Moncton, New Brunswick

George H said...

Just because parents sometimes find themselves in the position of temporairly having to relinquish custody of their children,they are entitled to be assured that their kids will be looked after.terrible situation that you have there in British Columbia right now.

George Harder
Red Deer, Alberta

Edna Olson said...

Why does it always have to be this way. The premier Gordon Campbell is such a prima donna. He gets nailed for drunk driving in Hawaii, and of course he would never come out and say, yes I got caught driving when I was drunk like most others when they get caught red handed. No no, his way of expressing it was, I made an error in judgment and made a bad choice. Well Mr. Cam,pbell, I have a message for you. On the last election day, I, too made an error in judgment and made a bad choice as I voted for your government, and I wasn't even drunk, but at least I see the error of my ways and will correct it on the next election day.

You too Mr. Premier, need to do a lot of correcting in the Childrens and Families Ministry in this province. The kids deserve more from our leader.

E Olson
Victoria, B. C.

W Moncrief said...

The government of any province in Canada has a duty to protect children and those who cannot speak for themselves. When they fail or cannot provide this protection, it is time to get the Hell out.

W. Moncrief
Kentville, N.S.

A Macklin said...

Mr. Stoddard, I sent you an e-mail sometime back you may recall. In the e-mail I suggested that you are always knocking government. When I read stuff like this, they need to be knocked, right out of office on election day. Sir, I give credit where credit is due, and my hat is off to you. Thank you for sharing this information with others outside your provincial boundaries.

A Macklin
Thunder Bay, Ontario

B Talbot said...

Premier Campbell recently travelled Europe in search of how to fix our health care system. I could have saved the taxpayer the cost of the trip, just get rid of the present government and you might see instant results.

Bruce Talbot
Qualicum, B.C.

Danielle C said...

Why can't things simply get better before they get worse, instead of having to get worse before they get better?

My thought on the matter, for what it is worth. Good opinion page sir.

Danielle Cote
Cabano, P.Q.

Michelle said...

Even though a lot of your topics on here bring bad memories for some folks, at least you write in the real world. There is just so much happening out there in society that many things don't get adequate coverage. That is why I enjoy reading your site, you bring aspects of news stories forward that others have chosen not to.

I am studying communications and I do a lot of "shopping around" for editorial and opinion pages on the internet. Have been reading yours in detail for a few weeks, and like your down to earth approach. Keep up the good work Lew.

Michelle Brady
Halifax, N.S.

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