Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

He had a name; it's OK to say it

  • Print
HIS name was Gage Guimond. He was two years old. He had a sister, a set of foster parents who loved him and foster siblings who considered him their brother. He had asthma, still drank from a bottle and wore a pair of blue rubber boots when he played outside.

He was killed while under the care of Child and Family Services, "reunited" with a family member he didn't know. His great-aunt is charged in his death.

The issues surrounding his death became a political football Tuesday, dragged out by Manitoba's opposition leader to shame the NDP into taking steps to rehabilitate their chaotic Child and Family Services department. But Gage Guimond's short life was shamefully ignored. PC leader Hugh McFadyen, God bless him, led Tuesday's question period with a challenge to Gary Doer. He spoke of a revolving door of Child and Family Services ministers, of front-line workers confused by the effects of devolution and the fact that "the children are ultimately the ones that pay the price."

He did not name Gage Guimond, a brown-eyed boy with the engaging smile.

The premier acknowledged that whenever a child dies or is injured or is hurt (staggering his way down the list of possible results of being put into the care of people wholly incapable of looking after a child), it causes heartache for all members of the legislative assembly.

I would hope so.

"The best child welfare system is no child welfare system," Doer thundered. Families and safe environments are the best places for children, he said stating the obvious, and the safety of children is paramount.

While he touched briefly on the "alleged murder" of the very dead Phoenix Sinclair, he did not name Gage Guimond, who is also dead and allegedly murdered.

Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard spoke too, talking of the "tragic failures" under the NDP government, linking the child welfare system to an increase in youth crime. He did not name Gage Guimond.

Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh responded. He said that even the death of one child in care is "sickening." He talked about the 289 recommendations for change in the system the government has accepted. He spoke of the need for a "multi-faceted approach."

He did not name Gage Guimond.

It is not as though the names of the dead can't be uttered in the house. Tuesday, all three leaders paid tribute to two Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. They spoke of their character and the sacrifice they made for our country. A moment of silence was observed, a rare and wonderful thing in a room normally filled with jeers and heckling.

It was moving and entirely appropriate.

I hope I will be forgiven for hoping that a second moment would be dedicated to the memory of a baby who was "allegedly murdered" while under the care of a government agency.

There is a great deal of tiptoeing in any discussion of devolution, the process by which care of thousands of children was handed over to aboriginal agencies. A politician who questions too hard will find himself accused of racism. The government knows this, the opposition knows this and the rest of us certainly know it. This may be why, although McFadyen came out swinging, he ultimately pulled his punches.

He did question the "incoherent and sentimental reasons" for putting kids in care back with their families. He said the safety of children trumps culture. But he needs to go further, to demand to know why the cockeyed policy of putting family with family is allowed to lead to the deaths of children in care.

It's not a hard question.

"The system was broken before the changes were made," the premier said, and the practice of putting culture above all else was begun by the former government.

That's not an answer.

His name was Gage Guimond. He was two years old. He was killed while under the care of a child welfare system sworn to keep him from harm.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 26, 2007 $sourceSection$sourcePage

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Sneak peek: MTS Centre’s renovations for 2014/15 season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY
  • Geese take cover in long grass in the Tuxedo Business Park near Route 90 Wednesday- Day 28– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Judy Wasylycia-Leis will greatly benefit from the endorsement by Winnipeg's firefighters?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google