STATEMENT FROM THE REPRESENTATIVE
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia has released his decision on the matter of the internal MCFD review directed by Robert Plecas. Chief Justice Hinkson found that Mr. Plecas had his status changed by government to that of a statutory reviewer under the CFCS Act on Aug. 10, 2015 when he was appointed a “Director” under the legislation, and as a result, his work is not open to judicial review.
The Chief Justice noted that the recent decision by Mr. Plecas to propose further revised terms of reference (which have gone through several changes since his appointment), accepted by Minister Stephanie Cadieux on Oct. 9, 2015, provided ample assurance that “he is only permitted to provide prospective recommendations regarding how any errors or omissions evident in the case could best be minimized or avoided in future child protection matters” (para 33). Mr. Plecas has provided further clarity that he does not intend to re-open findings by Mr. Justice Walker in the original trial, and his internal review will look to the future and not substitute findings of fact or otherwise in this case which is still before both the trial courts and the appeal courts.
This decision recognizes that there has been a major recalibration of the review by government and Mr. Plecas and these events suggest that appropriate boundaries have been placed around these matters. Despite this, I respect the fact that J.P. and her children are experiencing continuing stress and concern over the litigation and the time and resources it may take to conclude these processes.
The Chief Justice noted that, provided the new limits to the review are in place, and the CFCS Act standards and processes are complied with (as shown by the recent changes in the terms for the review and the status of the reviewer as within the statute), then it is not a retrying of the matters determined by the Supreme Court in J.P.'s case, but an opportunity for looking forward to better standards and practice for children and families.
We will await the results of Mr. Plecas's review before determining what further action the Representative's Office may take regarding this matter. These recent steps and clear decision by the Chief Justice help to provide clarity and support to J.P. and her children that Court processes will not be impacted by actions of the executive branch of government, and should these prove to provide helpful guidance to other families, then they could indeed be most welcome.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond
Representative for Children and Youth