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Dead kids don't vote: how convenient

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DEAD kids don't vote.

Neither do parents or grandparents whose kids have been killed under the nominal care of Child and Family Services. They're too busy dealing with grief and addiction and poverty and any unholy litany of reasons that led their children to be seized by the government in the first place.

They don't have lawns. Come election time, they don't have lawn signs.

That's how you explain the utter contempt shown in Tuesday's throne speech for the Manitoba children who have died, for their remaining families, for the kids still warehoused in emergency shelters, for the foster families and for the remaining 7,200 vulnerable kids in the system.

That's how you justify ignoring the concerns of over-worked front-line workers, new agencies begging for training and computer equipment and the communities where licensed foster homes are just a pipe dream.

Dead kids don't vote.

In the early moments of the throne speech, the magic word "fostering" was uttered. Was this a signal of a sea change in how we care for kids? Was the NDP going to admit devolution has failed, that Phoenix and Heaven and Gage and Baby Mark are more than just random, lost kids?

Not a chance. Here's what they said:

"Your government is committed to fostering effective linkages between universities, colleges, government and the private sector."

My government is concerned with "fostering effective linkages" -- not to fostering children in homes that are safe, permanent and loving, no matter what the ethnicity of the people who care for them.

There were few references in the speech to the child welfare systems, all of them vainglorious. Less than 100 words covered the whole topic, a rehash of promises made in 2006.

The speech spoke of an overhaul of the child welfare system. It neglected to mention the overhaul was made necessary by the death of Phoenix Sinclair while in care.

This omission goes to the heart of this government, to its values and to its callous disregard for the children it is sworn to protect. When rotting remains of animals were found at the Misty Gardens pet crematorium, Manitoba Conservation stepped in, closed the business and launched an investigation.

When two-year-old Gage Guimond was killed in care, the Family Services minister said he wasn't allowed to discuss the case and that the medical examiner's report had to remain a secret.

The blame for this limp-wristed response to the deaths of children in care does not rest entirely with the NDP. They're getting away with it because the opposition doesn't give a tinker's damn.

This is an issue Tory leader Hugh McFadyen could have used to strike hard and often against the NDP. Their record on failing children in care is indefensible. The numbers of dead children are mounting. The child welfare system is in chaos.

But McFadyen has been strangely silent.

Sure, he'll let the Family Services critic stand up and lob a question or two at Gord Mackintosh. Every once in a while, the Tories will quote a Free Press article on the latest tragedy.

But there is no evidence the opposition has decided to take a stand for the province's vulnerable children. There is no proof they care or realize that, carefully handled, this issue could save lives.

Nope, they talk instead about Crocus and financial misdoings until the cows have come home, been milked and sent off to bed. Crocus is an issue that by now is only of interest to a handful of guys in suits and a couple of journalists.

But this is their issue. This is what matters to them. This is where their heart is.

Dead kids don't vote.

But you do. You vote with your brains and your hearts and your ideals. You vote based on what you know is right and what you know, deep in your gut, is wrong.

Not setting a place at the table for the children consigned to the care of CFS?

That's just plain wrong.


Lindor Reynolds blogs at


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 21, 2007

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