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Saving Gotham (Alberta)

August 3, 2009 permalink

Albertans have heard a long string of failings from their child protection system.

The province faces a class action lawsuit on behalf of adults who were mistreated while they were children in foster care.

In recent years five Alberta foster children have died, four anonymously. They are:

alias age died place
Caleb Merchant 13 months Nov 26, 2005 Edmonton
Alberta Kafka 3 years Jan 27, 2007 Edmonton
Edmonton toddler 3 years Jan 13, 2009 Edmonton
Girl Hobbema 13 months March 28, 2009 Hobbema
Edmonton Brawler 17 years April 24, 2009 Edmonton

Earlier we said baby Tsuu died when life support was turned off, but he survived. Alberta is now searching for a home for a child over 50 percent brain-dead. Again, we request anyone with knowledge of these cases, especially the names, to get in touch with Dufferin VOCA, email: [ rtmq at ].

In May two provincial wards killed Susan Trudel and Baldur Boenke In June a sixteen-year-old provincial ward killed Curtis Osterlund. In June Richard Ouellet, director of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act's child intervention section, was found in contempt for failing to return a child to the foster home ordered by a court.


So what has Alberta done to correct the problems? Nothing. Instead, it has cooperated with CTV to produce a three-part news documentary Protecting Edmonton's Innocents glorifying the child protectors. The broadcast occurred in late July and was posted to YouTube on July 31. The three parts are [1], [2] and [3], with local copies at [1], [2] and [3], all in flv format. An early scene shows the police/social worker dynamic duo rushing out in the CARRTmobile to save Gotham City from the nefarious child abuser. They nab partiers and a sex offender, yielding a four-year-old boy, then drunk drivers yielding two more children. The interviews are all with police, social workers and court staff, none with affected parents or foster children, making the story as credible as a comic book.

Part two introduces the Zebra Child Protection Centre. A girl actress with a blurred face plays the role of a foster child being interviewed by a friendly social worker. They can't show a real foster child, because she would be screaming for her mother.

Part three depicts the new child-friendly courtroom, where children face a barrier and never see the accused. Repeating what we said on the same innovation in Bermuda, a traditional legal protection is the right to confront your accuser. This means when a witness gives damaging testimony, he faces the accused in the courtroom. It limits perjury because a person who feels comfortable badmouthing another out of his presence will be inhibited from lying to his face. It may not matter to the hardened criminal but it is a big factor for immature witnesses. A little girl may say, after coaching, "Daddy put his finger in my wee-wee", but she will be much less willing to lie to daddy's face: "You put your finger in my wee-wee". Eliminating this protection produces more convictions and less justice.

Continuing the zebra metaphor:

Zebras are also notoriously difficult to catch. They have evolved superb early-warning mechanisms , such as peripheral vision far superior to other horses. Often bad tempered, they grow increasingly antisocial with age and once they bite, they tend not to let go. A kick from a zebra can kill — and these creatures are responsible for more injuries to American zookeepers each year than any other animal. — Jared Diamond