Drip, drip, drip

The leaks coming out of children and family development haven't exactly been good for the troubled ministry's top bureaucrat Lesley du Toit. Last year, for example, the deputy minister was caught instructing bureaucrats not to use government email to promote Bike to Work Week - a provincially-funded exercise program that has become an annual tradition for the civil service. And, in another memo, she admitted her decision to transform the ongoing transformation process at children and family development could cause "further confusion." So it will come as no surprise to our readers that Ms. du Toit has moved to prevent the press from getting their hands on such documents in the future.

According to an internal announcement, obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, the former South African child rights reformer asks members of her leadership team to "ensure that any email from me to you individually or collectively is considered secure and may not be accessed by your (executive assistant) or anyone else." From now on the leadership team will also "shred documents after meetings if they are not needed." And the ministry's "leadership binders" are now to be "kept under lock and key." Whatever could Ms. du Toit be trying to hide? The following is a complete copy of that email.

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MCFD Leadership Team
Announcements: Message from the Deputy

Title: Message from the Deputy

Body: Dear all
Following on the leaks last week I would like you to ensure that any email from me to you individually or collectively is considered secure and may not be accessed by your ea or anyone else. I will work with Karen and Nikki to ensure these emails are marked secure in some way. I am now seldom going to email you collectively.
I would prefer that your ea's cannot access your email at all but at this stage I will leave that to your discretion.
From now on my office will put together the leadership binders for po staff. As this will be more difficult for reds I would ask that you update your own binders. We will shred documents after meetings if they are not needed. Other than that your binder is to be kept under lock and key and returned to Liv 3 days before a leadership meeting if you are in po.
The secure site may not be accessed by ea's or anyone outside the leadership team.
I'm sorry that we have to work this way. Thanks for your help on this.
Lesley
Expires: 10/27/2006

Created at 10/20/2006 9:48 AM by Nikki McCallum
Last modified at 10/20/2006 9:48 AM by Nikki McCallum

7 Comments

Now there's a great way to inspire everyone about the deep sincerity behind all the grand promises about cultivating a new culture of teamwork and relationships based on trust and mutual respect as the Ministry continues to tranform the tranformation of its restructured operations.

This message will self-destruct in...(kaboom!)

Note the expiry date.

Sean's reporting might have brought this specific story far into enough public view (pun intended) for these e-mails -- these records -- to gain "sufficient public value" under the Document Disposal Act (http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/stat/D/96099_01.htm).

I love poetic justice.

I can see being distressed by leaks, especially from senior managers. But routinely shredding documents at the end of meetings? That's not the sign of a healthy management group.

I agree with Paul (who looked a bit chilly walking to work down Craigflower today) - a table-side shredder is not a great management tool.

Luckily, Bill Gates' elves invented an MSWord function that will put a page-sized, half-toned watermark of the name of a recipient on every sheet of a document - that way people can take information with them and do their job, they just can't leak it anonymously.

For people concerned about what the FOI commish makes of such things - both the Act and the decisions of Flaherty and Loukidelis establish a zone of confidentiality around the work and deliberations of ministers and senior public officials.

as I see it:

the deputy's job is to use and not abuse these provisions - like a staffer's job is not to breach them without a damn good public safety, public health, etc reason.

as to sean's job he has a duty to publish and, not being a rotarian (as far as i know) his duty is not to ensure that what he prints is fair to all concerned, just that it's true or very likely true - and since he's not the deputy, his job includes publishing things that came to him from people who should know/act better

'I can see being distressed by leaks, especially from senior managers.'

du Toit had the habit of writing long and rambling emails addressed and sent to every employee of mcfd from senior managers to front line workers and support staff.

Heaney is correct that it is the deputy's job not to abuse these provisions. It is also her job to meet the requirements of her position.

Little of what is occurring in the deputy's office, in my opinion, is a sign of a 'healthy management' style.

Heaney:
I was freezing. Would a ride have killed you?

What happened to the open and transparent government the BC Liberals promised us all?
Did the Deputy Ministry not receive that memo, like the one about Bike to Work Week?

What is Ms. Du Toit trying to hide from her underlings, the media and the public about current transformation/devolution planning that documents must be shred after meetings? Binders kept under lock & key? These aren't issues of national security. However they are issues of interest to the public, especially those who will have child protection services hoisted on them with no money for infrastructure, staff, training, or support to children in care & families. All anyone has to do is look at the stellar job CLBC is doing (NOT)to see where this map will be taking us all, back to the 80's and pre-Gove standards for child safety and protection.

What is the good DM so afraid of? She's made it clear that she's got the strength of her vision, zeal and convictions of the righteous path that is community governance for the child welfare system in BC? She's secretly appointed lots of learned professionals to rubber stamp it all, shouldn't she be bringing this all into the light of day so everyone can get a peak at the new world order?

Heaney and all should consider that the child welfare system with it's constant budget cutbacks, re-organizations, plans and activity of devolution are issues that should be in the public discourse. I would refer all back to the Hughes report and ask what has changed since it came out? The Representative has been named, but the wrangling continues about how much her office will be funded and being a very smart woman, she's gone on record about that issue already.

Would the citizens of BC not expect the Deputy Minister of this Ministry of Secrecy, Tears and Misery to meet with Ted Hughes and work to implement some of his recommendations. Instead,she has not met with him and she continues to crack the whip, trying to strike fear into the hearts of her staff, with paranoid and ill-conceived ideas about what is appropriate conduct from a leader in the public service of BC of one of the most important Ministries.

Hmmmm, what's that I hear, is it a ticking of days numbered?

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