August 08, 2015 - 7:00 AM
VANCOUVER - A mother who won a lawsuit against the British Columbia government after social workers enabled her estranged husband to molest their toddler in foster care says the province's decision to appeal the ruling is cruel and sadistic.
The Justice Ministry said it filed documents Friday seeking clarity from the Court of Appeal of B.C. A judge found last month that social workers knowingly violated a court order and allowed unsupervised access to a father who had sexually abused his other kids.
"I think it's completely rude, and inhumane for them to go on against little children who have been hurt so terribly," the mother, known in court documents as J.P., said in a statement.
She said the Ministry of Children and Family Development has been hurting her family since 2009, when it falsely accused her of being mentally ill and seized her children.
"What they have done for six years and now are continuing to do is cruel and sadistic. Like the people running the MCFD. We are suffering because of them."
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Walker ruled last month the ministry showed "reckless disregard" when it failed to investigate the kids' claims that their father had sexually abused them.
J.P. and her former husband, identified as B.G., have four children, born between 2002 and 2008.
Walker ruled in a custody trial in 2012 that B.G. had sexually abused his three eldest children. In his recent ruling, he found the man had also molested his youngest child while the girl was in foster care.
Children's Minister Stephanie Cadieux said government lawyers advised her the trial judge erred in a number of areas and that an appeal was warranted.
"I want to make clear that today's decision is not about the family involved, but about every family that the ministry may interact with in the future," she said in a statement.
Cadieux, who declined interviews, said the appeal will not impact former senior civil servant Bob Plecas's review of the case. She said any staff concerns that arise will be examined by a separate human resources investigation.
But Doug Donaldson, the Opposition NDP's critic for the Children's Ministry, said the appeal "completely guts" the review. Plecas already lacked the ability to compel testimony, and his powers will be further hindered by an ongoing court case, he said.
"What it seems to be is that the internal review was a sideshow and an attempt to deflect attention," Donaldson said.
Children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said the ministry didn't consult the mother before announcing the review and J.P. has filed a complaint with the privacy commissioner.
The mom learned of the appeal through media on Friday, Turpel-Lafond said.
"There could have been a more respectful way to do this," Turpel-Lafond said. "She feels quite harmed."
The notice of appeal filed Friday is sealed because it includes family members' full names. The province said its comprehensive arguments will be publicly available and filed within 90 days.
J.P.'s lawyer, Jack Hittrich, said it's disturbing that the ministry's role is to protect children but it refuses to take responsibility for repeatedly failing a mother and her four kids.
"This ministry has done everything to vilify J.P., place her children in danger, allow the youngest to be sexually abused in breach of a court order," he said in a statement.
"The one thing that can be said is that this ministry has been very consistent in its refusal to abide by the law or court rulings."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015