Peterson-Rafuse reneges

For four months this spring, Community Services Minister Denise-Peterson Rafuse blindly defended her department’s slandering of an innocent priest, and its incompetent intervention into the operation of Talbot House, a much-admired, 53-year-old community-built addiction recovery center forced to close after the department engineered the removal of its executive director on specious grounds.

Then in June, when she finally deigned to meet with the Cape Breton institution’s board of directors, she had a momentary and welcome change of heart. As I wrote then:

Contrary to expectations expressed here Monday, today’s meeting between Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse and the Directors of Talbot House brought the two sides closer together, and may lead to the reopening of Talbot House under the leadership of a vindicated Fr. Paul Abbass.

Peterson-Rafuse, persistently criticized here over the last two months, took a crucial step back from the brink. For now at least, she has cancelled her department’s plan to issue a tender for the addiction recovery services formerly provided by Talbot House. The two sides will negotiate terms for Talbot’s reopening with government funding. The Cape Breton Post’s Julie Collins has the optimistic details.

It didn’t take long for the department’s bureaucrats to whip this weak minister back into line. Contrary to her promise, she held no further meetings with the Talbot Board. As further proof that her word counts for nothing, the department today told the Cape Breton Post it would proceed with the RFP Petereson-Rafuse had promised to put on hold.

According to George Savoury, the department’s executive director for family and community support, there have been no further meetings with the Talbot House board, but the minister has looked into several of the issues raised in the report.

“That has been completed and we decided we will be proceeding with the RFP as was announced earlier,” he said. “We did send a letter to Talbot House advising them of our decision. Talbot House is very aware that they can apply, if interested.”…

“And we felt that a RFP would be an opportunity for an enhanced and improved service for individuals who needed this service in Cape Breton.”

As always, the department insists the Talbot House Society is “free to apply,” an empty bit of sanctimonious twaddle if ever there was one. Talbot House is history.

It will be interesting to see the if the department-imposed terms of reference make the use of methadone a mandatory part of the new addiction center’s treatment program. Deposed Executive Director Paul Abbass’s refusal to accept clients on methadone was a bone of contention for the methadone-pushing addiction professionals who anonymously defamed him in the department’s notoriously incompetent review.

This issue needs a thorough review by someone independent of the department. I am currently appealing to the NS Supreme Court over the department’s refusal to release documents that might shed light on the motives behind the department’s clumsy assault on Talbot House. Stay tuned.