Tuesday, December 4
This blog post is written by the CBC's Sean Kavanagh, who is covering the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry this week:
At least Doug Ingram's notes weren't "lost."
The Winnipeg CFS supervisor testified today that he knew exactly where his notes went -- he shredded them.
Ingram oversaw the Sinclair file in early 2004 and appeared at the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry today.
Last week, the inquiry discovered that notes on the Sinclair case made by several CFS supervisors could not be found ... they were all lost somehow.
To be fair, a policy directing supervisors to maintain notes on discussions about cases came into effect on March 1, 2004, just weeks after the Sinclair file crossed Ingram's desk.
Ingram admitted later that he didn't adhere to that policy specifically, even after it came into effect.
Even if he is honest about where his notes went, it's a shame that Ingram saw fit to shred them.
In his testimony today, he virtually had no memory of the case, his part in it, and what decisions the CFS worker under him had made.
He told the inquiry that he had reviewed what was in the files he had in preparation to testify, but clearly that wasn't enough.
Commission counsel gave him a 15-minute timeout to go over the material again.
Perhaps it is wishful thinking that not shredding those notes would have helped Ingram. He admitted "as a rule" that he didn't keep much in the way of notes.
When he did discuss cases with his workers, it may have amounted to a page or so ... "scratch notes for myself," he said.
Ingram told the inquiry that he "occasionally put a Post-It note on a file with some direction" for a worker.
With no notes and a bad memory, Ingram still had to look at the Sinclair file today. It arrived in his unit in January 2004 and his staffer, Lisa Conlin, had worked on it.
Ingram signed off on allowing Phoenix Sinclair to stay with godmother Kim Edwards and Edwards's partner, Rohan Stephenson, and then to close the file.
That's despite the fact Conlin never spoke to Edwards, that biological mother Samantha Kematch was still in the little girl's life, and no risk assessment had been completed.
I don't know if chilling is the right word, but it gave me a start when Ingram testified he didn't recall when he heard about Phoenix Sinclair's death. He just didn't remember.
"Apparently I was at a meeting where I was notified that this had happened, but I just don't have any recollection of that at all," Ingram told the inquiry.
He said the first time he realized he had some involvement in the Phoenix Sinclair case was when the inquiry was announced ... last year.
Ingram was never interviewed by anyone about his involvement in the file, despite three reports into the Sinclair case being done. He said that was "odd."
A final note about notes. As I write this, at my feet are dozens of notebooks I have about the stories I have covered. I have many, many more at home.
I keep them because they are important to the work I have done. They are a record of what people have said to me and what I have seen. I think I will continue to keep them.
With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.