Last week, the ministry of children and family development's top bureaucrat told MLAs she's "never refused" to meet with the government's independent child protection watchdog, despite having recently rebuffed the watchdog's request for a briefing. But the bureaucrat's political boss, Mary Polak, didn't find any fault with Lesley du Toit's contention because, according to her, there's a difference between a meeting and briefing.
Ms. du Toit made the statement just three months after notifying the watchdog she wouldn't be giving her "any further briefings" on a massive effort to overhaul the way children are protected in British Columbia.
The minister of children and family development has seen that correspondence, including children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's request for such a briefing.
Nevertheless, when interviewed on Monday about Ms. du Toit's contention, the minister stated, "I'm not aware of a meeting request that the representative has made that she's declined."
But wouldn't Ms. du Toit's refusal to give any further briefings to Ms. Turpel-Lafond count as a refusal to meet?
"No, that's a refusal to give a further briefing," alleged the minister. "And I'm sure you know, Sean, the difference between just having a meeting and actually preparing and presenting a briefing on substantive ministry work. Those are two very different things."
"A briefing is where you prepare materials, you prepare content, you prepare an agenda such that you're going to be able to instruct the person you're briefing with regard to that information, you prepare question and answer materials for them - there's all manner of work that goes into a briefing," she explained.
"It's a completely different setting then having a meeting where you might dialogue about a range of topics. So I have no doubt that anyone who's ever experienced a briefing would know the difference between a briefing and a meeting."
And, since the minister opened the door, here's our view: a briefing is always a meeting, while a meeting might not necessarily be a briefing.
But we'll be happy to meet with the minister and brief her about that view whenever she likes - although we doubt it will require much preparation.