am recommending that a Representative for Children and Youth
be established as soon as possible and that the position
be an officer of the Legislature. The appointment process
should be that used for other officers of the Legislature
such as the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, and the Information
and Privacy Commissioner, which is by recommendation of
the Legislative Assembly upon unanimous recommendation by
a special committee of the Legislature."
Honourable Ted Hughes OC, QC, LL.D. (Hon.), BC
Children and Youth Review, April 7, 2006 p. 35.
multi-million dollar public relations machine which puts
out hundreds of media releases for the Campbell government
was noticeably silent on the release of the Hughes' Report
on Child Welfare. Twelve hours after the release of the
report, the top story on the government website was about
Bear" followed by an article on the ratification
of collective agreements. Not a word was published on the
government's response to the scathing Hughes' Report.
as February 20, 2006, Premier Gordon Campbell said: "It's
important enough that everyone understand what is currently
in place in British Columbia. There is an independent officer."
On September 22, 2005, Attorney General Wally Oppal asserted
that: "The children's youth officer is independent."
On the same day that assertion was echoed by the hapless
Minister of Children and Family Development, Stan Hagen.
Future political science students can count how many times
over the last five years various members of the Campbell
government asserted the opposite of what Hughes suggested
with his first and most powerful recommendation, that an
independent officer of the Legislature be established to
represent children and youth. Hughes was careful not to
criticize Jane Morley directly. He said: "The current
Office for Children and Youth has performed its duties independently,
but if public confidence in the child welfare system is
to be restored, the independent body that speaks for children
and youth must have a status that puts that independence
beyond question. That is why I am recommending that the
new Representative for Children and Youth be an independent
Officer of the Legislature, with the same standing as the
Ombudsman and the Auditor General."
Campbell government may be known for introducing the Apology
Act, but don't hold your breath waiting for an apology
from the Campbell government on how it treated children.
Before slashing the budget for the Ministry of Children
and Family Development, it fired the Child and Youth Advocate
and the Children's Commission. Those outrageous acts came
home to roost with these strong words in the Hughes' Report:
"The Child, Youth and Family Advocate was eliminated,
as was the Child and Youth Mental Health Advocate and the
Family Advocate program in the Ministry of Attorney General,
and legal aid funding for family matters was cut. Some rationalizing
of government-supported advocacy programs may have been
appropriate but the pendulum has swung too far for the good
of the most vulnerable in our society-our children and youth."
language, Hughes also said that the Premier was wrong when
he claimed that budget cuts did not contribute to abandoning
769 child death reviews.
Premier should apologize to the Legislature and to all British
Columbians, and he should expeditiously implement all of
the recommendation in the Hughes' Report.