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2006 NS Election!
The NDP Cronies and Wimps are NOT for the Family
If you have been following this blog, without a doubt you will be able to see that we have serious reservations about the reigning Conservative Party - BUT lest we forget - And so we can educate you- During this very important provincial election period, we must share with the citizens of Nova Scotia our very serious reservations about the NDP party.
This posting will clarify our concerns with the NDP party who claim to be the Party of the people - And now, they, along with the Conservatives proclaim, for this election, that they are for families! Well, don’t be fooled by the proclamations of any of these political parties.
In this posting, Linda Youngson, B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed. unfolds her experiences with this “party of the people”. She is one advocate, amongst many, who has attempted for years to expose the many serious concerns connected with Children’s Aid Societies/Family and Children Services Agencies/Department of Community Services. As an advocate, she and Marilyn Dey, successfully took the Minister of Community Services to court to force him to appoint an Advisory Committee to review the Children and Family Services Act 1990, as mandated by Section 88 of that act. This is her disappointing experience with the NDP party of Nova Scotia:
Linda Youngson here. I was once a loyal NDP supporter. Since I came of age to vote, I always voted NDP. I thought this political party cared about the “little guy - the average Joe or Mary”. But, I have now awoken from my naiveté.
But I do not rejoice in my awakening. In fact, I feel, my world is a little grayer and a little sadder for it. I did not vote for the NDP in the last Federal election and I expect, at this point, that I will not even vote in the upcoming Nova Scotia provincial election. I have lost hope in finding a Kennedy in Nova Scotia, a politician who really cares about social justice issues and is driven to expose the truth and fight for concrete meaningful change to make this province a safe place to live for our families and child.
The politicians are all lethargic and are content to keep the status quo. Everyday we read in the papers stories of corruption within our provincial government. But it is important that people understand that this corruption is not limited to the party in power. There is a deadly systemic corruption that crosses all party lines that is succeeding because of the lethargy of the people of this province, encouraged by an inept media that prints government statements as fact without taking the time and effort to research the validity of their statements and without giving fair and equal time to grassroots advocates who not only have another story to tell, but have well researched documents to back up their statements. We have a lazy press - It is just easier and faster to print whatever the governments spews out.
However, I believe we can make a difference if we educate ourselves, and rise up, en masse and force enough public pressure on the politicians to do the right thing, for I know now, in the absence of a Nova Scotian Kennedy, our politicians will not do the right thing on their own. But I still have the hope that , with education, determination, and direction, we can, together, cultivate the power needed to force the politicians to do the what is right and just and good for our families and our children!
This blog site is a tool advocacy people did not have before - Let’s use it to the fullest - Spread the word and get this address out. Let’s read and educate ourselves. Wake up you people from your sleep of lethargy and shed those scales of naiveté from your eyes!
We are enabling our government to take children from any family on the basis that they MIGHT sometime in the future abuse or neglect their children. And meanwhile, the government, through the Nunn Committee has confessed that they are not able to help the children they have taken. We must, for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, stop this insidious monster we have allowed such unbridled power.
And now My story of NDP awakening:
Immediately after the 2003 election, a number of us met with Marilyn More, the NDP Critic of Community Services.
Initially Ms More appeared accommodating, meeting with us several times, patiently hearing our stories, and expressing shock and surprise with what we had to say. Eventually she directed us to Jean Faye the community legal worker for Dalhousie Legal Aid. As it turned out, Jean Faye is, in fact, a social worker who teaches at the Dalhousie School of Social Work, the very instituion that is responsible for rolling out the many social workers employed for Nova Scotia’s Children’s Aid Societies/Family and Children Services Agencies/Department of Community Services (CAS/FCS/ DCS). It is important to note that many of the social workers working for these organizations and departments are hired on intimidating short term contracts. This way, the workers are easily controlled and forced to “tow the line” or risk NOT having their contracts renewed.
We were wet behind the ears then, and were easily flattered by the attention that Jean Faye and her side kick Susanne Litke, a Dalhousie Legal Aid lawyer, showered on us when they offered us a meeting room in their building on Gottingen Street. While overseeing our meetings, both these women stated that they would not be members of our group- that all decisions, including membership were our own - that they were only there to “help” us.
At our meetings these woman sat at the conference table taking notes of the proceedings offering to assist us with contacts and information. And they thought we didn’t see the serious bolt of concern that flashed between them when we asked them to assist us sourcing funding for our advocacy group .
“But we saw you! That very day we discussed amongst ourselves what was apparent - And the alarm bells began to accumulate.” Ding!
Originally, Jean Faye verbally rattled off a number of sources that we would be able to get serious funding from. With paper and pen, we attempted to catch the information that flew in swift torrents from her lips - We looked at each other, and the torrents of words spilled so swiftly, we all gave up trying to capture the flow.
“But, you had no intention of letting us capture this information. When we asked to have this information on paper, you promised to give it - but this we never got. And then, at a following meeting, when we asked you to reiterate more slowly so we could write the information down, suddenly, the funding sources that had originally been in the thousands of dollars, became 1, 2, and 300 dollars. You took us for fools - Do you think we did not notice this?” Ding - ding!
Marilyn More, NDP MLA, Community Services Critic attended some of these meetings with both her and Jean promising to access information for us - We never got a stitch of information from either one of these people. But they were gathering information on us - getting to know what we knew and what we did not know. Ding - ding- ding!
Meanwhile, Jean Faye encouraged divide and conquer techniques against us - Mind you, some of us took longer to recognize what she was about - After all, when you are new at this advocacy work, it is hard to believe that people who claim to be helping you are actually working against you.
“But when one of our major players temporarily burned out, the eager look of a predator seeing a weakness in its prey was so apparent that you gave yourself away, Jean . Your hunger to devour us made you less cautious. You forgot to be subtle - and in your eagerness, you tripped yourself up, and exposed yourself for what you were - a destroyer - not a helper” Ding - ding - ding - ding!
She took us for fools- But, in the end, we all saw through Jean Faye and Ms Litke and we left them standing in the dust! (I believe this blog site will speak further on Dalhousie and Nova Scotia Legal Aid in future postings)
Now back to Marilyn More and the NDP:
We continued to go to Marilyn More - after all she was the Community Services Critic. So kind, so sympathetic ------ so deceiving!
We kept asking her to source information for us. At one point she claimed to have raised our concern about the lack of a Minister’s Advisory Committee as mandated by Section 88 of the Children and Family Services Act 1990 in the legislature. As “proof ” of this claim, she gave us one untitled page of a government hansard (a verbatim record of government meetings and legislative debates). At the time, we did think this strange, wondering why we had not been given a copy of the entire hansard. But we were not familiar with hansards so it was some time before we sourced the complete hansard and discovered that the issue had NOT been raised in the legislature as Marilyn More had informed us - it had only been raised at a committee meeting .
Only after meeting with Marilyn More on several occasions did she inform us of the Standing Committee of Community Services , “Oh I don’t know why I never thought of this before. You could request to make a presentation before this committee.“ - No other information.
Imagine our shock when we found out that Ms More not only was a member of this committee (she did not tell us this) - she was , and still is, the Chair! Ding - ding - ding -ding -ding !
Eventually we awakened to the fact that Marilyn More was a DUD - and probably a dangerous dud at that, and we stopped communicating with her, naively thinking we might get assistance elsewhere in the NDP party.
The next NDP MLA we approached was Howard Epstein, NDP MLA and lawyer. We went to his office with our information and documentation. In addition, we directed a number of people, including young people who had been being apprehended, to his office to share their stories and their documents with him as well . He told us he was interested and concerned . He told us the NDP had caucus meetings to discuss the issues we had brought forward. He told us he had been appointed by the NDP party to gather information about concerns with CAS/FCS/ DCS in the metro area and that other MLAs had been appointed to gather information on this subject in different areas of Nova Scotia.
In addition, he encouraged us to bring forth a legal case against the Minister of Community Services for not putting together an Advisory Committee on an annual basis since 1996. He told us, as other lawyers had already told us, that this case was a sure win and in winning this case “This will give you credibility. Then people will have to listen to you”
As an advocacy group, it is important to have both publicity and credibility. (It is important to note that, by this time, we had already approached a number of lawyers, BUT, though they all told us it was a sure win, none of them were willing to take the case)
At out first meeting, Mr. Epstein perused a number of documents that he stated he would be interested in reading and it was agreed that they would be faxed to his office BUT as soon as we started to do so, his secretary complained to us stating that this was too much of an expense and an inconvenience! It should also be noted that Epstein repeatedly told us NOT to bother other NDP MLAs with copies of the same materials - that he would gather all the material for the NDP party. Because no concrete assistance ever came from our relationship with Mr. Epstein, or anyone else in the NDP party, we have to ask, was this an attempt to contain us? Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding!
“Mr Epstein, we sent you a vulnerable youth, who had been scarred by the system. We entrusted this youth to you so that you would be able to hear, first hand, the experiences of youth in care. You gave this person cards to distribute to other youth so they would come to you. - But, this youth fled in tears from your office - dumping your cards in the nearest garbage receptacle." Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding - ding!
We also went to Graham Steele, NDP MLA, and lawyer. He claimed to have concern for our issues. YET every time we wanted to discuss the specific issues, he immediately shut us down. He was willing to represent us against the Minister of Community Services, David Morse, for not putting together an annual Advisory Committee to review the Children and Family Services Act 1990, and its implementation, as mandated by Section 88 of the Act BUT he did not want to discuss - IN ANY WAY, our specific issues and concerns with the government. We made out first filing on this case in June of 2005. Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding - ding - ding!
By this time, we began to understand the extent of the corruption in the system, and we were concerned that, in the end, this committee would turn out to be the sham, and indeed it was. But, despite this, we saw this action as an opportunity for media coverage to educate the people of Nova Scotia and raise public awareness of our issues.
But when our action of taking the Minister to courts hit the press, the only person who got the media coverage was Graham Steele - the very person who would not even let us talk to him about the specific issues! The media placed him as the person who had discovered the legal failure of the government to follow its own law - that he was the one that was raising this issue - And that he, as a private citizen, not an NDP MLA was bringing this action to the court! None of this was true! The accolades were all his and we did not exist - we, who had done the research and read this law and found this issue, we who had been pushing to have this brought before the courts for months - got no media recognition whatsoever.
Graham Steele was basking in the positive media coverage and he wanted it to remain that way. When we asked why our names were never in the media coverage, he pleaded innocence- that he had put our names forward and that he had no power over what was included in media coverage.
But, I ask, if he had no power over our names appearing in the press, then I find it quite interesting that after I put the verbal screws to Mr. Steele that suddenly our names were appearing in the media. Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding - ding - ding - ding!
In talking to Mr. Steele, I quoting what Howard Epstein had stated to us “This will give you credibility. Then people will have to listen to you” clarifying that because we all, unfortunately, expected the actual committee when it was appointed to be a sham (and it was), the only thing we had truly expected to gain from this action was publicity and credibility - But how, I stated, were we to get this if no one knew about us?
Bluntly, I told Mr. Steele that - because of the corruption of the system, this was, indeed, the only thing we ALL really expected to get out of this action - he had known this from the beginning. He had gotten more than his fair share of coverage and I made it very clear that we expected to get the recognition that we needed from this action as well.
Only then, did Mr. Steele mentioned us by name in radio coverage and only then was our advocacy work recognized in the press - BUT this was very late in the game - only after Mr. Steele had already stolen all the thunder and recognition for this action.
Meanwhile, since Mr. Steele had no desire to hear our concerns, he directed us back to Marilyn More, the NDP Community Services Critic. Reluctantly we did attempt to get back to her. Starting in August of 2005 we began asking for meetings -with no success.
When we finally gave up trying to get a meeting with Marilyn More, we suddenly got a message from her office that she was attempting to arrange a meeting including other NDP MLAs. Maureen MacDonald, an NDP MLA we had been trying to meet with was invited to this meeting.
However, we were soon to learn that Maureen MacDonald wanted no part of this meeting. She demanded specifics of why we should be allowed to meet with her. Being the NDP mental health critic, we explained we wanted to speak to her about the serious concerns regarding assessments families are forced into before or after their children are apprehended . We explained we had some assessments reviewed by well known respected PHD psychologists and that they have been appalled by the lack of professional standards and ethics in these assessments. We went on to explain that when complaints were filed with the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology ( NSBEP) the complaints were dismissed without a hearing with no right of appeal. And when we went to the ombudsman's office about this, they would do nothing!
Evidence, documents, the names of all parties, including the PHD psychologists, and the fact that they had already spoken publicly in court and at public meetings had already been given to the Maureen MacDonald and the NDP party.
But, from the e-mail we got back from Maureen Macdonald, it would seem, she did not even read the material we sent. In this e-mail Ms MacDonald told us her critic areas included "mental health, health reform, and health promotion" . She went on to state "If your group had some concrete examples of cases where there has been gross systemic abuse of due process and you have taken these to the government, but have been unable to get an investigation, then I could see a role for the Official Opposition". In addition she stated "I’m not really clear what it is you want done, but it would appear that you are looking for some sort of public inquiry or investigation into the child welfare system, and perhaps a review of the handling of complaints against psychologists by their professional association" and yet, give my head a shake, she stated "the concerns you raise do not fall within my critic responsibilities"! !
Shake …Shake . . Shake . . .H-m-m-m? MENTAL HEALTH - HEALTH REFORM - “PSYCHOLOGISTS” - "CONCRETE EXAMPLES" - "SYSTEMIC ABUSE OF DUE PROCESS" - "UNABLE TO GET AN INVESTIGATION" - ASSESSMENTS - “REVIEW OF THE HANDLING OF COMPLAINTS AGAINST PSYCHOLOGISTS“. H-m-m-m-m? It's all there!
It’s really doesn't take rocket science to figure out that our concerns did, indeed, fall into her critic area and we had already given her everything she wanted! Does she take us for fools? - It is also important to note that we had met her some months earlier at a mental health conference and there she had promised, to us, a meeting. Needless to say, we learned both her logic and her word are warped ! Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding!
Back to the meeting that Marilyn More was supposedly to be setting up in good faith - Well, to make a long story short - we got a misdirected e-mail. Don’t you just love those misdirected e-mails? And from this e-mail it was very apparent that this meeting was not being put together in good faith. Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding!
"But Marilyn More, you did not stop there. Behind our backs you called a single member of our group to meet with you - divide and conquer again? And you told this person to tell me to stop criticizing you. Well Ms More if you wanted to speak to me, you should have spoken to ME . You are a politician - you should expect criticisms! Instead of wimping-out, GET A BACKBONE, and, with an open mind, in good faith, meet your critics straight on!" Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding!
"Marilyn More, you have not divided us - you have educated us. Every action - or non action - you take is a learning experience for us. And, oh, by the way - we read on your glossy election flyer, you used to work for the Atlantic Child Guidance Centre - Now let me see . . . this organization morphed into the IWK Assessment Services - the very organization we have been complaining about, to you, for years ! I guess, like the Standing Committee on Community Services, of which you were and still are the chair, you just forgot to tell us?”
One last thing, about Marilyn More - after speaking with Ms More, about making a presentation to this standing committee,we did make application to present to this committee.
“We read the hansards, Ms More- you did us dirty- again! You were fully aware that this was an application for a presentation by a group, as did the person responsible for scheduling the presentations. Yet, when our application was discussed by the committee members - suddenly and newly enhanced by the former premier, John Hamm and the former minister of Community Services, Peter Christie, these illustrious members challenged our application, wrongly stating this was an application by a individual person - and you did nothing to clarify the circumstances of our application." Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding!
Now to Daryl Dexter. We were originally granted an appointment with Daryl Dexter in Jan of 2006. This was verified by both the NDP caucus secretary as well as his constituency office. Butthen, the day before out meeting, Pamela Whelan called to cancel demanding that we explain again our reasons for wanting to speak to Mr Dexter. When I phoned Ms Whelen, she never picked up. I left messages in response to her inquiries, and she, in turn, left messages, to the point of harassment, not acknowledging or responding to any of the information I had given her. Endeavoring to have conversation, I searched out her e-mail, but she stubbornly refused to communicate with me. I sensed she was getting some kind of thrill attempting to frustrate me, so I left the job of trying to communicate with her to another advocate - but she was exhausted as well. Ding - ding - ding - ding- ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - ding - dong - ding!
Finally we gave up and decided the NDP were a lost cause after all. Then, like earlier, with Marilyn More, out of the blue, just before the election was called, we got a communication from Dexter’s office stating we now had an appointment.
Well, as I said before you have not fooled us - You have educated us. Now, we are more focused then we were before.
Enough said for now But a synopsis of our court action against the Minister’s will be posted soon enough and it will not bode well for the NDP as a whole or for individual MLAs when it is posted .
I ask all the MLAs , orange, blue, red, or green - Snap out of it and do what is right - NOW! Do what you know is right now - because the blackness of what has become of Children’s Aid/ Family and Children’s Services/ Dept of Community Services is being exposed both here in Nova Scotia, across Canada, and across the United States,
We will not be still- We will not be quiet! The bells have rung in our ears long enough and the sound of them has woken us up and our eyes are open. And we will keep ringing these bells until the eyes of every citizen in Nova Scotia is forced open! The people will wake up, they will know the truth - and they will rise against you to do the right thing or they will rightly turf you out as they should!