Bathurst – Two Bathurst mothers have made an official complaint to the New Brunswick Ombudsman asking him to cancel a decision to allow Dream Street Pictures to film the movie “The Phantoms” on location at Bathurst High School. The mothers are meeting with the Ombudsman in Fredericton on Tuesday, August 23 at 1:00 pm to discuss the complaint.
Isabelle Hains and Ana Acevedo say the decision to allow Dream Street Pictures to film in Bathurst is “wrong” and is in violation of Section 21(a) and 21(b) of the Ombudsmans Act. The mothers say John McLaughlin, District 15 Superintendent is in a “conflict of interest” and that his week-long consultation with the community was a “farce”. They say the decision to film in Bathurst is based “in whole or in part on irrelevant grounds or considerations” and on “arbitrary, unreasonable or unfair procedures”. The Minister of Education, Jody Carr, is also named in the complaint.
Excerpt: “We believe that the Superintendent and the Department of Education decided long in advance that the protests of parents were irrelevant and that the film was going to go forward no matter what the public outcry. The proof is that the feelings of victims’ parents and families were not considered whatsoever in the negotiations leading up to the film’s announcement to the media on July 22. The so-called “consultation” with parents was a farce, lasting only one week from the date Mr. McLaughlin received a letter from Isabelle Hains, asking him to cancel the proposed filming at Bathurst High, until the date a decision was made on August 5, 2011. We believe that if that letter of complaint had not been sent to Mr. McLaughlin, the roll out of the film would have proceeded as scheduled, with no consideration given to the victims’ parents or families at all.”
Excerpt:”We believe Mr. McLaughlin acted improperly because he is in a conflict of interest and should have been removed from the role of decision maker for this film. He is too deeply connected to every part of this story.”
Ana Acevedo, who lost her 17 year old Javier in the Bathurst tragedy, said she and Hains have sent Premier David Alward over 100 letters of objection to the film from citizens of Bathurst and family members of the victims. Acevedo said she and Hains have personally phoned and written to the Premier several times since learning about the film production but the Premier “hasn’t the decency” to respond to their phone calls or letters.
“We wish we didn’t have to make this complaint to the Ombudsman, but when you are faced with a complete lack of respect and consideration for your feelings as a parent who has lost a child in the most horrible way, you have to do something to make these people do the right thing,” said Isabelle Hains.