This documentary investigates how stories from an oppressed public can affect a democracy if voices that were silenced are facilitated and heard. It is a non-partisan directed documentary work that combines film and new media to “simulate a democracy” by giving people a voice who are otherwise silenced.

The website, blakout.ca, serves both as a public archive and as a conduit to collect stories from people who have been bullied and silenced by employees of democratic organizations, including: government workers, lawyers, judges, politicians, leaders of publicly held corporations, religious organizations, and so on.

The intended outcome is to inform, educate and empower Canadians to use their vote as an effective means to create social justice change. This work assumes that Canadians care and that they’re not apathetic by choice. It assumes crimes against social justice persist in a democracy because the victims are not heard and the ruling public is uninformed.

Fear silences and annuls the workings of a democracy. When elected politicians and public authority figures silence the electorate, a stark contradiction emerges between the intent of a democracy and its outcome – an oppressive and corrupt dictatorship, which condones poverty and bullies, silences, and exploits the public.

An elected official’s implicit role includes accountability to the public, for managing employees who are paid with public money (collected through taxes, registeration fees, and so on). Public servants are mandated to enforce the laws that govern its society.

If a public servant abuses the law’s intent, often using money as leverage to bully, silence and threaten individuals unfairly (fairness is defined by what is fair to the affected person), the result is a dysfunctional democracy, which does not reflect its governing precepts. This issue is common to any model – including business, government and religion – where the source of power is distilled to money.

In a society that endeavors to promote equality (an essential component toward insuring a functioning democracy), it is not about how much money is required, but how that money is spent. A financial model that supports equality and empowers each individual to claim his or her democratic rights is an efficient one.

Poverty prevents people from claiming the rights they are entitled to by law. In Canada, claiming these rights is an expensive endeavor, which requires a personal investment most people can’t afford (starting with a lawyer). Thus, only the very wealthiest could actually afford to claim their rights (individuals who are wealthier than the people with the power to oppress). The ultimate price to society is tenfold versus the cost of underwriting equality and individual empowerment.

The abuse of power and exploitation transforms a democracy into a dictatorship because the public is not empowered to actively participate. An oppressed public proliferates poverty, which then costs society even more tax dollars to maintain (greater investment into police, prisons, education, healthcare, social welfare programs, the courts, and so on).

A functioning democracy gives the right to individuals to speak out and actively participate in resolving issues that violate human rights and cause unfair and extraordinary distress to individuals. Advocacy and speaking out are important entitlements, as is exercising the right to vote during an election.

Most public servants and corporate workers are well meaning, honest and hard working individuals who are often coerced to behave badly by a ‘hungry’ elite. “The elite” are high-level individuals who financially profit the most from an abuse of power. They encourage employees (or those they influence) to behave in ways that exploit the poor (poorer than the organization exploiting them) for self-interested profit, and will lie and twist laws to justify their actions. They may even mask their corruption behind noble causes, which allows them to act uninhibited and unchecked.

The elite will offer their staff financial incentives, including promotions and pay hikes for acting unethically. If they don’t conform and turn a blind eye to their better judgement, these employees are bullied, harassed, intimidated and even fired for unjust reasons. If public outcry checks their behaviour, the elite find ways to silence their voices. When lower level public workers abuse their power, it is imperative to follow the chain of command to its source else the area of abuse will not be substantially resolved.

This work argues that crimes against social justice are not resolved because the ruling public either fails to hold politicians accountable for a system they’re elected to manage, or else it fails to understand the impact of these crimes on its economic well being, or both. Consequently, Canadians who cannot afford to fight for their rights are discarded to the fringes of society in a wash of apathy, helplessness and disappointment. A democratic society that is characteristically apathetic as a whole, such as Canada, has a bloated counter-public that outnumbers the ruling electorate. There are more people who have been affected by its dysfunction, than there are oppressors. (Picture a fat donut with a small hole in the middle.)

When the source of fear is rooted in a system that is not affected by the electoral process, many of its victims become indifferent and apathetic to leadership changes, which adversely affects voter participation at the ballot. This work encourages people to vote for public officials, who are competent, diligent, and responsible executives, and who endeavor to promote the rights of individuals, in a society that aspires to function as a democracy.

By documenting voices that are silenced by fear, this work seeks to demonstrate that the ruling public (people who elect its leaders) are collectively responsible for whether or not their society functions as a democracy or an oppressive dictatorship, which violates human rights laws and condemns the lives of its people.

Blakout.ca is a Masters thesis for the Documentary Media program at Ryerson University. It is approved by Ryerson’s Ethics Review Committee and conforms to the University’s ethics guidelines.

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11 Responses to Rationale

  1. Blaire says:

    I have to say that what you’re doing is great. I’m surprised at some comments people have left you. I would have to say that the only people that are calling you a trouble maker are the ones whom have never experienced the heartache and pain the Childrens Aid are able to put individuals through. I myself have never had my children taken from me but I have seen others (including my own mother) be manipulated, lied to and lied about, by the c.a.s and lawyers so badly, I thought my mother was going to kill herself. My brother was molested and hit in foster care. It got so bad that even her lawyer’s child was taken from her in order for her to drop my mother’s case. Hard to believe? Of course it is . If I didnt see it for myself, I wouldnt believe it either. In fact, most people did’nt believe it. Why would an agency that is supose to help children , actually hurt them? Anyway, I wish I could jump through and hug you for being so driven and brave. You are truly a blessing from God.

  2. Patti M says:

    Keep doing what your doing director, I will cherish this day of coming across your site for all the rest of my days. This has been the best day of my life, because i have hope, bigger belief in me, to do what i need to do. November 30, 2011

  3. Patti M says:

    It is funny when people speak from the other side of the fence, when you, yourselves, have not sat in a room with workers from a child welfare agency. I believe children had died along time ago while in child care because of our skin color. Native children suffered all kinds of abuse. You probably don’t hear about it, because we are silenced. I have friends that talk about it.

    The reason being now today, the agencies ACTUALLY have to do their job, and actually earn that dollar. Let me you ask this then, why have people come forward, as I have read on this site, and have said things about their own agency?? Or, they have come to me and directly talked to me and told me why they quit?? Hmmm, I wonder why? I have been through a lot of workers over the years, many have quit because they do not agree with child welfare system, how an agency runs its business. Injustice? Not to the the agency, but damn the rights to me and other parents and families, good families, that lost their children to the child welfare agency. And for what?? For nothing.

    Child welfare agencies have ruined families, because of that dollar they want to keep. Its pretty sad, their logo is based on the children and family…. ha ha yeah right… why don’t they just be honest and say they do it for the dollar!.

  4. Anonymous says:

    No official data on the percentage of deaths of children in care. Good try.
    CAS already governed.
    CAS has yearly audits from the govt.. Can’t operate unless they pass.
    Some CAS have their own internal audit on top of Govt one.
    Be nice if the clients spent more time doing drug screens then trying to be [expletive deleted] movie stars here.

    • A Quinn, DSW AUBS says:

      Wow, you sound highly articulate (yes, sarcasm!) though I have to wonder where you received your education. Higher learning facilities absolutely refrain from lumping “clients” into a stereotyped demographic. And by the way, passing those audits is like taking a test you’ve already been supplied the answers to… a lie.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You have got guts to create something like this and not be concerned about finding a job after.

    • director says:

      It takes guts for anyone to speak out against injustice. Your comment underpins the impetus for the blakout.ca documentary site. To examine the issue of being bullied and silenced by fear in greater detail, I encourage you to read the Introduction, and even the thesis paper for the work (if you have time).

      Regarding issues dealing with the CAS, children are often used as leverage to silence and manipulate caring and loving parents, guardians and even CAS workers. Many CAS social workers don’t speak out because they fear losing their job, even after they witness their own supervisors and agency execs exploiting and damaging the lives of vulnerable children. The social worker, who spoke out anonymously in the film, did so because she was prevented from realizing her career goal to help vulnerable children and families by an employer who is legally mandated to help! (btw… this worker was not fired. She is a ‘former’ worker for unrelated reasons). Her story describes the type of bullying your comment alludes to, which is a common and well-documented trend amongst MCYS staff, CAS exec directors, supervisors, managers and even workers. Losing or not finding a job is a terrible and unjust price to pay for speaking out, but losing a child is worse.

  6. T.McIntyre says:


    You call people that tell the truth “trouble makers?” That is one of the most asinine things I’ve ever heard. Kids in “care” die at 10% the rate as children in the general population (very conservative number,) the John Howard and Elizabeth Fry Society’s will tell you the story of people with CAS backgrounds, and Minister Broten is aware of these stats!

    CAS will be governed, it is inevitable, the people insist. And you and every unregistered social worker will be fined and then charged for the abuse and pain CAS is responsible for.

    Just wait till your files are audited. The Human Rights, Charter Rights, Constitutional and Criminal Code violations. Who’s going to hire you?

    • Anonymous says:

      Files are audited yearly. Cant get a license to operate unless you pass. Already governed. No official stats ever complied with percentage of deaths. Good try!

  7. T.Daly says:

    [From: Theresa Daly, Director, Human Resource Services Catholic CAS ]

    If CAS is that powerful then I have to commend you in not being afraid of the repercussions to produce what you have. Otherwise your gonna be screwed in getting a job anywhere once people know who you are and that your a trouble maker. We will be sure not to hire graduates from Ryerson.
    Good luck

    • Brenda Lundrigan says:

      guess I can be called a trouble maker as well as I totally agree that the CAS have become too powerful and are abusing their authority. I also understand that the society does do some good but this good is overshadowed by the abuse it puts forward.

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