Motherisk has finally provided a response to the recent questions raised about the reliability of its hair testing procedures. Except the response isn’t really a response. Rather, it is a series of statements telling the public to “trust us”, “we know what we are doing” and “it’s not serious anyways”, all responses that fail to address the issues at stake. Over the past few days, it is clear that these issues include:
a) What are the specifics of the changes that have been made?
b) How is the new process in compliance with the forensic standards used worldwide?
c) Is Motherisk a properly qualified lab for performing forensic as opposed to clinical hair analysis?
d) Do the scientists at Motherisk understand their role as “experts” rather than as advocates for one party (usually the Society)?
e) Is Motherisk aware that their testing has been relied, sometimes without question, by Children’s Aid Societies across Toronto?
The Motherisk response to these issues is frankly, inadequate if not non-existent. It merely serves to deflect from the real issues at stake.
The fact that the trial judge did not make a decision as to which expert was more “correct” is not an answer to the questions about the science used by this lab. As experts, it is incumbent on the lab to recognize that there could be criticism of its methods and provide an appropriate response. Denying that there is anything wrong is not an adequate answer.
Furthermore, the fact that Motherisk’s response involved merely a letter to the OACAS (the Society representing the Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario, and arguably their biggest clients), reveals their lack of understanding that this is an important issue for the public at large. The issues here reach far beyond the individual Children’s Aid Societies. As members of the public, we deserve to know that the State is not taking children away from their families and interfering with families without reliable evidence. By writing to OACAS, Motherisk has revealed that they are only interested in reassuring their biggest client, not those whose lives are directly affected by their testing. As a lawyer representing parents, I find the response insulting and inadequate. It is time for the Ministry of the Attorney General to step in and conduct a review to get to the bottom of this.
You can find copies of the full reports here.