Scorched earth for Cape Breton addicts

On Wednesday, the Department of Community Services made good on Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse’s vindictive plan to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to replace the residential addiction treatment services so ably provided by the Talbot House Recovery Centre for the last half century.

Those services came screeching to a halt last February, after a biased and incompetent “organizational review” by the department’s  director of family and youth services, Marika Lathem, lent temporary credence to what turned out to be false charges of sexual misconduct against the home’s executive director.

Peterson-Rafuse and her officials are variously quoted as saying the Talbot House Society is welcome to respond to the RFP, or she has not ruled out allowing them to apply.

You can download the RFP here. My very quick read this evening suggests it contains poisoned pills that may make it incompatible with the Talbot Society’s philosophical approach to recovery, and easy for a hostile departmental review team to rationalize rejecting any Talbot bid.

The person in charge of that team? None other than Marika Lathem, principal author of the incompetent and biased review that brought on this debacle. This brazen conflict of interest compromises the hard-won integrity of Nova Scotia’s procurement system, and ought to concern those in charge of that system.

It’s hard to imagine who else might bid on this RFP. No existing Cape Breton organization seems likely, but the canny strategists at DCS are not likely to have issued the tender call without assurances someone other than Talbot would apply. The smart money is that Lathem has cajoled one of the four existing recovery centres on the mainland into opening a branch plant in Cape Breton.

That’ll go over well in Scotchtown and Florence.