The Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry heard testimony from the current CEO of Winnipeg Child and Family Services Wednesday.
Alana Brownlee testified for the second time before the inquiry Wednesday and faced intense scrutiny over the handling of notes on Phoenix Sinclair’s file.
The inquiry is examining the circumstances around the death of five-year-old Phoenix. She was killed in 2005 on Fisher River First Nation. Her mother, Samantha Kematch, and her mother’s boyfriend, Karl McKay, were convicted of first-degree murder in her death.
Phoenix spent much of her short life in the care of several child and family services agencies before she was beaten to death. Her death went undetected by workers for nine months.
Brownlee testified she began an agency-wide search for notes on Phoenix’s case in the summer of 2011, six years after the young girl was killed.
She said she found notes were missing, and despite contacting office staff, administration and other supervisors, she could not find the missing notes.
The last office to handle the little girl’s file was closed in 2005, and workers were scattered among a number of different agencies, the inquiry heard.
Lawyer cautioned by commissioner
One lawyer at the inquiry landed in hot water Wednesday morning when commissioner Ted Hughes warned him he was in a serious conflict of interest.
Attorney Kris Saxberg represents several CFS authorities in Manitoba as well as the supervisor who closed Phoenix’s file in March 2005.
Hughes said Saxberg’s questioning of former CFS CEO Darlene MacDonald on Tuesday was concerning.
"I have a serious concern that you are in a conflict of interest in representing the multiple clients that you do," said Hughes.
"Besides representing the authority that you do, you also represent the supervisor who also signed off on the March 9, 2005 file closing."
Hughes said Saxberg questions directly went against the expert opinion of one of Saxberg’s other clients, a senior and experienced social worker.
Saxberg responded by saying there "isn't a conflict between my clients position that I am aware of at all."
The commissioner asked Saxberg to sort out his conflict of interest as soon as possible and told him he would not be allowed to make a closing statement that contradicted testimony from the CEO of one of his own clients.