Astute readers will remember that, last year, the provincial government appointed respected former jurist and conflict of interest commissioner Ted Hughes to head an independent review into British Columbia's much criticized child protection system. As part of that review, Mr. Hughes received more than 200 public submissions commenting on the state of that system. But don't expect to be able to read those submissions without the assistance of a freedom of information request. In an interview with your humble organ, the review executive director Maureen Nicholls confirmed the documents won't be made public.
"It was really a decision in terms of people feeling that they could be more fulsome if their privacy was maintained. And we heard a number of people from the community express a similar view. And we thought that - if we wanted to get their views and if wanted to encourage people to make submissions - we needed to give them a sense of security."
And why do they feel the need for that security? "I would only be speculating. But my sense is there was some sense of unease (by social service agencies) in terms of the ministry knowing," their views, said Ms. Nicholls. Although she added, "I'm presume that's mostly perceptual. But I don't know." Nevertheless, such perceptions are a damning comment on the government's present relationship with those agencies.