Provincial New Democrat leader Carole James says Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen has some "explaining" to. This, following an exclusive report by Public Eye that the province's independent children and youth watchdog concluded last year that the ministry's top bureaucrat had abandoned the Hughes Review recommendations. The recommendations were made by former conflict of interest commissioner Ted Hughes to improve the province's child protection system following the tragic death of toddler Sherry Charlie.
But, in a letter sent on July 19, 2007, children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said her understanding was the ministry's top bureaucrat believed "many of the recommendations were not possible to achieve" because the Hughes Review was "informed by ideas which are entrenched in an old system."
Asked about the matter, Ms. James said, "What it points out to me is that the minister has some explaining to do. I remember the premier and the minister standing up in the legislature saying they were going to fully implement the Hughes Review recommendations."
"So if that's not occurring in the ministry," she continued. "It's the job of government and the minister to stand up and inform the public and explain that to the public. And I certainly haven't seen that."
"What's becoming more and more apparent is that it's typical of this government that they try and say everything is fine when it becomes a headline and a problem. But then they forget about it - they ignore it, they don't support it and they don't provide the necessary leadership to carry on."
In her response to Ms. Turpel-Lafond, children and family development deputy minister Lesley du Toit stated her plans to reform the ministry were, in fact, "strongly influenced" by the Hughes Review - although that report wouldn't be used as a "blueprint."