Thursday, July 28, 2011

Letter to District 15 Superintendent, John McLaughlin, about his participation in Dream Street Pictures movie about the Boys In Red

July 28, 2011

John McLaughlin
Superintendent District 15
Department of Education
464 Montgomery Street
Dalhousie, N.B.
E8C 2A6

via email:

Dear John,

I have just found out from a CBC radio report that you have been approached by Dream Street Pictures to participate in the proposed made for television movie, The Phantoms, and that you will base your decision to participate in the film on the support you receive in Bathurst.

We have had our differences in the last three and one half years and, yes, I have criticized you for what happened to my son Daniel and six young boys but if there is one thing I never believed you would do, is participate in a film that glorifies their deaths.

I am asking you, as a parent who lost a beloved son in the most terrible way, to reconsider your relationship with Dream Street Pictures and decline their offer to be part of this film.

Do not be taken in by Dream Street's spin that this is a "family film" that will focus on the Phantoms basketball team's victory in 2009. Even the producers of We Are Marshall had the sense to wait more than 30 years to make a movie about that tragedy. It is only three and one half years since the death of seven young students from District 15 who proudly played basketball for Bathurst High School. It is too soon do a film on the tragedy and no matter what Dream Street Pictures says, the movie is about our boys. They never had a chance to play to the end of their basketball season and without their deaths, there would be no film.

There is only one reason Dream Street is making this film - money. They will do and say anything to convince you that they are right and the critics are wrong: the fact is they need you to make this film. They are using your position in the community as District Superintendent to say they have public support. Ask anyone who works in the film industry in this province and you will find out that the money from these type of films does not trickle down into the pockets of ordinary workers. The big money will be made by the producers - otherwise, they would not be in the business of making movies. Their failure to consult with the victims' families before announcing the film last week should give you some indication of the kind of people you are dealing with.

After all is said and done, Dream Street's producers will profit enormously from the death of our sons and I implore you to not participate in this film in any way: do not lend your name or the use of Bathurst High School or any of District 15's facilities to Dream Street Pictures for this movie.

I want to close by saying that you and I both know that everything about this film will be controversial: it will have its supporters who applaud you and its detractors who will criticise you. What makes you an easy target for criticism as the leading representative for the Department of Education in Bathurst is the obvious contradictions inherent in the Department's insistence that it does not have the money to pay for professional, licensed Class 2 Bus Drivers yet somehow, the government can find $250,000 to make this movie. That you are even considering the use of Bathurst High School and other District 15 facilities as props for this film is shameful; the hypocrisy breathtaking.

You are a leader in this community: I believe you have a conscience and that you do feel pain for what happened to our sons. I am asking you to lead by doing the right thing and saying NO to Dream Street Pictures,

Isabelle Hains

Premier of New Brunswick, David Alward
NB Minister of Education, Jody Carr
NB Minister of Supply and Services, Claude Williamsq