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Friday, March 31, 2006

Programs to watch:

Global Television's Focus Ontario program this weekend as the Ombudsman will be discussing the issue of CAS oversight. The program is scheduled to air on Saturday at 6:30pm and will repeat on Sunday morning at 7 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

"Failing Jeffrey"
The Fifth Estate
Friday April 14, 2006
10:oo pm

From the clip they showed last night it looks like it is going to be good.


Anonymous said...

I don't know this show - is there a chance for people to phone or email like the previous CHTV program?

Anonymous said...

Amanda, thanks for posting this. Can I also ask you if you've heard anymore from the Toronto Star reporter who is planning an article on kinship care?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Amanda. Tonight I viewed an excerpt from the upcoming Fifth Estate documentary called "Failing Jeffrey". They did not say when it would be aired, but said that it was coming soon. I fully expect given the credibility of the Fifth Estate that the issue of the CCAS having orchestrated his death will be pivitol in the segment - as it should be. It will be good to see a program that has the guts to probe into the CCAS of Toronto. That agency has been a nightmare for years and it is long overdue that it was scrutinized with the public knowing how inept they are.

Anonymous said...

Also seeing the preview was very emotional just to start with - Jeffrey was such a beautiful, darling little boy - his life was a horror of terror and torture. The CCAS must be responsible for this.

Anonymous said...

Hi folks - this is the website for Focus Ontario. I will be watching this program, and I do hope that many others watch it as well. The Ombudsman is an amazing person who is really there for Ontario citizens.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Fifth Estate does a good coverage of the Jeffrey Baldwin tragedy.

Here is another article by Christie Blatchford about his story - and it discusses the CCAS which is good. Their negligence and ineptitude is off the scale here.

POSTED ON 19/11/05

Crown at Baldwin trial won't call children's aid witnesses


Prosecutors will not be calling any witnesses from the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto when the Jeffrey Baldwin murder case resumes next week.

The unexpected decision, made this week during a break in the trial of the little boy's maternal grandparents, comes on the heels of Crown attorneys Bev Richards and Lorna Spencer frequently referring in open court to their plans to question several social workers from the agency, but particularly Margarita Quintana.

The practical effect of the decision is that the conduct of the agency and its workers will go unexamined at the trial.

That may in turn ratchet up the pressure for some sort of public inquiry -- either a coroner's inquest or a full-blown probe headed by a judge -- into the broader circumstances of the little boy's death.

Though almost six years old, Jeffrey weighed only 21 pounds and stood only 37 inches tall at the time of his death. His emaciated body was covered with a layer of fecal bacteria -- consistent with what evidence at trial has revealed about how he was confined for long periods of time to a cold, fetid bedroom such that he lived surrounded by his own waste -- and his lungs were filled with pneumonia.

Ms. Quintana was the agency worker in charge of the family's case when the CCAS supported Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman -- now charged with first-degree murder in Jeffrey's starvation death -- gaining legal custody of the little boy and three of his siblings.

The custody transfers were made in three separate proceedings over the course of several years ending in 1999.

Astonishingly, the grandparents were able to take over care of the youngsters despite the fact that each of them is a convicted child abuser, Ms. Bottineau convicted of assault in the 1970 death of her first child, and Mr. Kidman convicted eight years later of assaulting two of her children from a previous relationship. Information about their criminal records -- as well as psychological reports suggesting Ms. Bottineau was of marginal intelligence and a potentially dangerous parent, as well as other complaints about the pair -- were all contained in the agency's own records, but went undiscovered.

Shortly after Jeffrey died on Nov. 30, 2002, CCAS executive-director Mary McConville confirmed that the crucial information had been buried in the agency's files, but had not been checked because of a policy vacuum in so-called "kinship care" cases -- where relatives come forward, as happened with Jeffrey and his siblings, when a youngster's parents are deemed unfit, to take the child in.

But evidence already heard at the trial has revealed that the agency also ignored its own red flags about the grandparents on another occasion -- and in the early 1980s had approved Ms. Bottineau as a CCAS daycare provider and was actually paying her to care for other people's children.

Toronto Police homicide detectives first asked Ms. Quintana for an interview about two years ago. Indeed, the grandparents' trial has twice been delayed in part because prosecutors were either unable to arrange to interview her or, when in recent weeks they finally succeeded, they then needed time to review the videotape of the interview.

The decision not to call the worker means that the prosecution case could be completed as early as the end of next week.

Anonymous said...

In appearing on Focus Ontario, Mr. Marin is most likely to speak to Ombudsman oversight. However, I wonder if his presence may also be intended to keep up pressure for an inquest or inquiry. Months ago, I heard the coroner make uncommittal statements about what would happen after the trail and suspected the government will attempt to sweep everything under the rug. The delay in trial sentencing and manner in which Bill 210 was passed have only increased my suspicions. Do other readers feel that's the game plan, and if so, does anyone have any insight into what may be done to prevent that?

Anonymous said...

If the Ombudsman could do for the CAS what he just did for MPAC, the system would be a whole lot better!

Anonymous said...

I think that the Ombudsman having went after the MPAC is quite important as well. That system is very much the same as the CAS. It too is incompetent, it does not appear to answer to anything etc.. with regards to Bill 210 and it going through etc. I think the matter at hand is that we have an Ombudsman who is dedicated to changing systems that are not accountable, and that do not actually offer true services to those in which they allege to serve. I think it is very evident that the CAS is afraid of the Ombudsman as well as the government as he is a brilliant investigator, who is clearly passionate about making services to tax payers responsible.

Anonymous said...

I too feel that his presence is directly related to Bill 210 to keep the pressure up regarding Jeffrey Baldwin. The fact that Mr. Marin made such a heartfelt plea to the government in a response to Jeffrey really speaks as to his true care about this issue - he is a champion who is also human. I cannot fathom anyone not being horrified at what happened to Jeffrey. The Ombudsman is clearly disturbed about this case, as he should be. He stepped up to the plate though - so yes I do think that his discussion is in response to what he knows is true - that the public is OUTRAGED about Jeffrey and that the public wants CAS oversight.

Anonymous said...

The quotes about the Ombudsman are right on. It's a shame he is not the premier.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if anyone commenting on the ombudsman and MPAC has actualy read his speech?

Although he believes changes should be made he COMMENDS them as a well run organization.

Although I do like him and what he attempts to do dont forget he has to tow the line. He could be replaced at the drop of a hat.

Perhaps some who think he can overhaul CAS ought to look into the real facts. When he was in charge of complaints against metro police he had his hands tied behind his back for the most part.

Anonymous said...

I think he may have more power now but it is a good point about God forbid if he was replaced. I think he is wonderful really, but that being said as an example look at the Ontario IPC - a person who should be removed from office for a number of things. The Ombudsman is only as good as the person in the role. We have a great one right now and he really is trying which is good in this CAS mess.

Anonymous said...

Matthew Reid was also a precious angel who was killed compliments of the CAS, let's not forget him either. Two little boys are dead due to the CAS - that alone is reason enough to change things.

Anonymous said...

The program was far too brief. It did not even touch into the CAS issue near enough. It was good though in the minor coverage. I do hope that Focus Ontario will cover this issue with the Ombudsman in depth in the future.

I anticipate that the Fifth Estate program will be very in depth into CCAS of Toronto in regards to Jeffrey.

Anonymous said...

I read the ombudsman's comments about CAS and interpreted them as politically strategic. Having something complimentary to say makes it harder to justify CAS or political opposition to oversight? What have they got to hide.

At the same time, I don't think the Minister or CAS believe him for a moment. On CHTV, he seemed ready to sharpen his words at the program's conclusion. Does anyone think his involvement would be any less brutal than the blunt language used regarding property assessment? I hope there are provisions that he can't be fired - that would be a terrific loss, not only concerning CAS but right across the board. I can't imagine anyone else doing more about CAS than he has done to date and really hope he gets his foot further into the door.

Anonymous said...

The last Fifth Estate program that I can recall was called "Dying To Know" it was about how child welfare agencies routinely deny adopted persons access to information which is leading to deaths and illness. The program featured a woman named Kariann Ford - who sued the Metro Toronto CAS and Adoption Disclosure Registry of Ontario. They withheld information to this woman for over 30 years about a killer kidney disease. It was negligent at best and another horror story. The Fifth Estate did a good job, let's hope that Jeffrey's story will be covered with the same truth and integrity to the issue of the CAS. I think it will be.

Anonymous said...

I also saw a W5 program tonight about a test measuring people for violence. It had a prisoner on it who was a former ward in foster care in Ontario. This is not uncommon that lives have been destroyed to the point where the person ends up in jail. The system is a dismal failure that must be changed.

Anonymous said...

Foster father jailed for sexual abuse
Sentenced after plea: Man guilty of molesting teenage boys in his care

Peter Brieger
National Post

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Paul Blackwell is a "prowler" who deserves more than four years in prison for sexually assaulting teenaged boys under his care, one of the man's victims said yesterday.

"The guy is a bad person," the now 43-year-old man said. "He's a prowler. This sentence is a slap on the wrist."

The man, who cannot be identified, made the comments after Madame Justice Frances Kiteley sentenced Mr. Blackwell as part of plea agreement hashed out earlier this week.

Facing 22 counts of sex abuse involving five teenaged boys -- two of whom were foster kids placed in Mr. Blackwell's Scarborough home -- the 64-year-old agreed to plead guilty to one count of indecent assault and four counts of sexual assault. The abuse stretched for more than a decade, starting in the late seventies.

Mr. Blackwell sought out the plea just one day after his molestation trial began, during which a former foster child testified about sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of the father of three.

"It is clear that Mr. Blackwell abused his position of authority as a foster father to indecently assault [the victim]," Judge Kiteley said, reading from her six-page written decision. "[The victim's] evidence is very compelling."

Mr. Blackwell's sentence -- recommended by both the Crown prosecutor and the man's lawyer -- is in addition to the year and a half he has already served in prison, Judge Kiteley said.

She also pointed out Mr. Blackwell accepted responsibility for his "egregious" crimes, could undergo counselling in prison, and poses a low risk to reoffend because a prostate cancer operation has left him impotent.

Mr. Blackwell "accepted responsibility for his unlawful conduct, which was an important goal for the victims," Judge Kiteley said.

However, the 43-year-old foster child said he and the other victims -- two of whom sat in court yesterday -- were disappointed Mr. Blackwell did not say anything when asked if he wanted to address the court.

"I don't really feel as though he's owned up to [his crimes]," the man said. "He was a big part of my life, but he abused our friendship."

Fleeing an impoverished family with an "absent father," the then 15-year-old asked the Catholic Children's Aid Society to place him in a foster home. He was made to feel welcome in the Blackwell's home, Judge Kiteley said yesterday, but the older man soon began to fondle the boy and perform oral sex on him.

He also "frequently initiated attempts at anal intercourse," the judge said, adding that the boy did not rebuff Mr. Blackwell's "inappropriate behaviour for fear of being rejected and sent away."

Court heard that Mr. Blackwell was a "father figure" to the other teenagers, several of whom worked for his construction business.

One boy -- a 12-year-old at the time who was encouraged to call the man "dad" -- said he was given milk at night, which he thought was spiked with sleeping medication so Mr. Blackwell could assault him.

© National Post 2006

Anonymous said...

And another thread.......

Anonymous said...

Abuser gets four years in prison
Mar. 27, 2006. 01:00 AM

A judge has sentenced a former Catholic Children's Aid Society foster father to four years in prison for molesting five boys, a punishment that doesn't satisfy one of his principal victims.

"I don't think it's enough," said a 43-year-old man who was 15 when Paul Blackwell started performing oral and anal sex acts on him.

"Look at the impact he's had on all these people," he said in a University Ave. courthouse Friday. The 43-year-old victim had testified that Blackwell abused him when he was placed in his care by the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto.

He said he couldn't report the abuse to the CCAS because his caseworker also once fondled him, leaving him with nowhere to turn. The former businessman should serve at least five to seven years in prison instead of four, the man said.

Justice Frances Kiteley accepted a joint submission from Crown prosecutor Cara Sweeny and defence counsel Louise Botham for the four-year sentence, which comes on top of the 1 1/2 years Blackwell has spent in pretrial custody.

Last Tuesday, Blackwell, 64, cut short his jury trial on 22 child-molestation related charges by admitting in the Superior Court of Justice to one count of indecent assault and four counts of sexual assault, each relating to one of the five boys, who cannot be named by court order.

The sex abuse started in 1977 and spanned 15 years.

The five victims have expressed gratitude for Blackwell's guilty plea, Sweeny told the judge during the sentencing.

The judge ordered Blackwell to provide a DNA sample to be placed on the national sex-offender registry for 10 years. He also can't do any work that would put him in a position of trust with children under age 14 until Aug. 31, 2006.

Blackwell's lawyer told the judge that her client, a divorced father of three, has high blood pressure and heart problems and is unlikely to reoffend.

Under Canadian law, he would normally be released after serving two thirds of his four-year sentence, but because he has abused children, the National Parole Board can block that "statutory release."

Blackwell is eligible to apply for parole after serving one-third of his sentence.

Sweeny has said there may be more victims and encouraged any to contact police at 55 Division.

Anonymous said...

From this site


Strategy will ease pain of family reunification

By Joan Black
Windspeaker Staff Writer

The joint management committee of the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy has released a report of a six-month study into the issues of Ontario-born Aboriginal children put in the custody of non-Native care providers outside their communities of origin.
The report, titled Our Way Home, was prepared by Native Child and Family Services in conjunction with the consultants Stevenato and Associates and Janet Budgell. It focuses on the problems of families that had children removed by provincial child welfare authorities during the late 1960s to early 1980s - the phenomenon known to Aboriginal people as the infamous "Sixties Scoop".
The study details the effects of adoption and foster care on children disconnected from their tribe and culture. It also identifies a variety of obstacles that Aboriginal people face in trying to re-establish family ties, and it sets out a four-phase strategy aimed at easing repatriation for those who desire it.

The study was undertaken by the Repatriation Research Working Group of the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy in Toronto. Participants included the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians; Grand Council Treaty No. 3; Nishnawbe Aski Nation; Union of Ontario Indians; independent First Nations' representatives; Federation of Indian Friendship Centres; Ontario Native Women's Association; Ontario Métis Aboriginal Association; Ontario Ministry of Health; Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, Ontario Women's Directorate and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The Ministry of the Attorney General was supposed to be on the committee, but was not an active participant, a spokesperson said.

"Through this report we are consulting with our communities and organizations as to how we can effectively assist these people and communities in this emotional healing process," said Garnet Angeconeb, Aboriginal co-chair of the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy's joint management committee.

The Ontario's Children's Aid Society was empowered by the 1965 federal-provincial Indian Welfare Agreement to reach into reserve communities and administer provisions of the Child Welfare Act. Large numbers of Indian children were removed from their homes, often as a result of distorted suppositions of Children's Aid Society workers about what constitutes adequate parental care and supervision in a culture unlike their own. Loss of the children's identities was the result.

"[The children] were not given any exposure to their culture; they have to know it's OK to be who they are," said Donna Simon, health policy analyst at the Ontario Native Women's Association, which was a partner in the study. "Denial of who a child is is a real travesty," she added.

It is not known how many Aboriginal children were claimed by the Sixties Scoop in Ontario or how many of them desire to repatriate. Those seeking repatriation typically want to meet or re-establish relationships with birth families. Some seek repatriation to regain Indian status, to live in their community of origin, or to uncover their families' medical histories, the report says.

The project came about because many Aboriginal people are seeking information from agencies that mostly don't have the will or the resources to offer repatriation services, according to Simon.

Mainly, the investigators wanted to find jurisdictions having a repatriation model that might be transportable to Ontario. Extensive consultation with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal repatriation organizations and child welfare authorities, Elders, "experts" in Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand, and with adoptees, adult foster children or Crown wards, birth families and adoptive parents took place.

They found three Aboriginal organizations focusing on repatriation based in British Columbia, and one in Manitoba. These are the United Native Nations, the Gitxsan Reconnection Program, the Wet'su wet'en Repatriation Program, and the Manitoba First Nations Repatriation Program. According to the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy report, there are no others working full-time on repatriation issues in Canada. It also discloses there is a seven-year wait for a search by the Ontario government's Adoption Disclosure Register.

The report recommends establishing a central Aboriginal repatriation office under the umbrella of an existing Aboriginal organization. The office would employ at least two staff: one to address policy, education and awareness issues, the other to fulfill the role of counsellor. The report further proposes access to Canadian adoption databases to conduct searches, access to internet databases, better co-ordination with other agencies and referrals to culturally sensitive professionals when required.

Repatriation services would include training and educating family support workers, and undertaking education and awareness campaigns. Counselling would be available to adult adoptees, foster children, birth families and adoptive families, the report says.
Simon's cousin, 42-year-old Katherine Pelletier, who works at the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa, applauds the aims of the proposed strategy. Pelletier was adopted in infancy by a French family and only found her birth family six years ago. Despite having "a very happy childhood," and "wonderful" adoptive parents, she says her identity crisis began at five years of age when she started kindergarten and physical differences between her and her adoptive family began to emerge into consciousness.
"It was very traumatic for me at that age . . . I was made fun of [by peers at school] . . . I grew up thinking I was ugly.
"If I had been within my own community, that never would have happened, because I would have looked like them - I would have fit in," Pelletier explained.

Discovering her roots became "very consuming - not painful," she said.

She located her birth mother in 1990 after the Secrecy Act was lifted, she says, and her mother provided her the name of her deceased birth father, who had come from Wickwemikong. Through a series of inquiries, Pelletier then found Donna Simon's mother, who is her closest natural relative on her father's side.

"When I found my father's side, lo and behold,I found I was like them. I act like them, I feel like them, I look like them. . . . I realize my spirituality, my heart, it comes from there," Pelletier said.

The search for her identity was confounded to some extent by the Children's Aid Society, who "either were not astute enough, or did not care enough" to provide her with correct information about her lineage.

"They gave me false information," Pelletier asserts. Not only that, but inaccuracies were recorded in her birth records. Pelletier says as Aboriginal people assume more responsibility for their own affairs, problems such as she had will diminish

Anonymous said...

CAS and the ministers office wont allow the ombudsman's oversight, they have way to much to hide. He has already bite there heads off with between a Rock and a Hard place, and knows that issue has not been solved. Only a hand full of cases were.

Can you imagine having to be made a criminal and lose your parental rights because your child is truly in need of services. That's what are government allowed to happen, and CAS lied about it to the press. If you have not read the report please do so, its on the ombudsman's web site. Between a Rock and a Hard place.

That year the CAS director in Hamilton ( same guy that did CHTV told the press, it was untrue, if any child was taken, and parental rights terminated because the child was special needs, he said he was unaware of it. Later he said it only happened in a hand full of families. now what's a handful? believe me what you and I will think a handful actually is and some social worker or psychologist believes a handful, will be very different. Does CAS lie, yes of course, this man did so on TV.
They lied in court with no problem, to take parental rights away from parents, sworn affidavits, to judges in family courts, they should have been taken down right at that point.
Its criminal, yet no one said a word in the press about it. They had to make up protection concerns to take the children????? Thanks so much to the government for not funding children's mental health, under health care.
They pay no attention to the environment and the real cause of so many children's mental health issues, and learning difficulty's ill health and that of there parents. We live in a toxic soup, and for those that state this has nothing to do with CAS your wrong. Most peds even agree it does.
And at least the city of Toronto is being to post it.
Everyone's hands are tied, even are doctors, if you where to ask a doctor in 2004 if air pollution aggravated asthma and illness, they said NO, because Health Canada did not allow them too, even though anyone with half a brain knows full well of course it effects health and brain function as well. But doctors were told to tell people ( we see more cases because we are better at diagnosing it) the grand old line we have heard so many times, it makes them look like the fools they are.
Once the study was released Hello suddenly a year later of course pollution and effects children's health. LOL
We live in a system that abuses us all from day one, we are not free, we have no rights, children have rights parents do not, and if anyone doubts that, just ask the police.
It stems from the UN convention of the child, and parental rights were removed from the Charter.
Do children know this? yes they are taught in school. Are school system is broken, are health care system, as the CEOs give themselves big raises, as certain school boards are charged with fraud, as the Cornwall case gets so little media, No one cares.
Why would they care about children, there making big bucks off them, why would a premier allow CAS to give adopting families money to help out with funds if they need it, but not biological families?? why would anyone NOT UNDERSTAND that the child tax benefit SHOULD be given to the poorest of families. Better food, better health, better minds, but no take money from Ontario's most vulnerable children, and make them into business commodity's and profit.

The ombudsman's will not be given oversight in this province because of the liberals level of corruption.
how sad.

Anonymous said...



The Samson First Nation is reinstated its jurisdiction over child welfare after Children’s Services Minister Iris Evans issued a ministerial order to strip the band’s Kasohkowew Child Wellness Society of its authority. The move came after the death of a 10-month old boy, who accidentally drowned in a bathtub, was found to be one of seven foster children to die under the band’s authority over the past two years. Advisor to the Samson Band Mel Buffalo says members do not approve of children being sent to off-reserve homes. In April, the fatality inquiry into the death of Korvette Lynn Crier, an Aboriginal child killed by her foster mother in an unaccredited and unlicensed foster home in Red Deer, reports that the province’s flawed foster care system may have contributed to her death. Many believe that strict government rules makes it difficult for Aboriginal foster children to be place with members of their own extended family.

Anonymous said...

REV. ROBERT DUANE SCHULTZ, 52, of Washington, Iowa, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after confessing to acts described as " horribly perverse" on boys under age 12, involving 1 count of sexual abuse and 3 others of lascivious acts. Officials are giving him polygraph tests and blood tests in an effort to identify other victims. The married minister was a foster parent honored in 1989 by Gov. Terry Branstad for volunteer service. Victims included foster children; five were removed from his home upon his arrest. The prosecution said a law preventing prosecution for sex assaults occurring more than 4 years ago should be changed, and would have resulted in more charges against Schultz. Rev. John Bennett told Schultz' congregation at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), " Bob has fallen...into a deep pit of despair. But Bob has not fallen from the grace of God." Church policy requires that he be defrocked for committing a felony. (Des Moines Register, 10/30- 11/3/89; AP/Clinton Herald, 10/30/89)

Anonymous said...

Adopters Who Abuse and Kill - a small collection of horror stories..

Anonymous said...

I think in the future we will be hearing many stories of those who were in "care" and from those who were adopted. It will be a real eye opener for real change.

Anonymous said...

Very sad and as we know most reason children are removed, are frivilous and dont are the boardened risk of neglegt and emotinal abuse, and poverty. Put into peoples hands that get paid for what they do, and MOST are abused, all are emotially harmed as soon as they are removed.

Not toally related but I found relavent, on Opera this week, ( I had the flu) dont usually get to lay around and waych TV,
She interveiwd the son of Betty Brodrick, a women in prinson for the murder of her husband and his new young wife.
Should she in my opnion be inprisoned for murder YES.
So I am not saying she should have gotten away with it, but what pushed her over the edge to do such a terriable thing. and what did that do to her children, Her husband, and her married young she put him though school, he dumped her for a younger women and took the house and all her children, her son stated ," she was are mother taking us, as my dad did, pushed her over the edge. He was 5 years old at the time,and only saw his mother every other weekend, if dad did not battle her over it. He did not want to pay her support, so may her out to be a nut, till she became one.
The now grown son was ten at the time of his father and stepmothers murder. He said he has no memorys of his dad, he worked all the time and was went on vactions with the new wife when he was off. The stepmom was cold and also not around, so he and his siblings loved going to moms.
They were loved by her he said and she showed it.
She snapped,the ex stripped her of every thing and now he was about to try and end her seeing her children, because of a finacal fight over some poperty. How nice for the children, but he was a lawyer so no problem.

She killed him and the new wife, she seemed so angry out of control in interveiws, sick unable to get past it. But why? I belive she was pushed beyond her limits, HER children all suffered, the son said, he went to live with an aunt and uncle, when that did not work out he was sent to another and then to a group home and boot camps, no one to love or care for him and his siblings. He felt lost for years, he hopes his mother will be out of prison soon, he has always loved and missed her, he does not condone what she did, but he said, SHE WAS A MOTHER, SHE LOVED US, HE THREATENED TO TAKE AWAY WHAT LITTLE TIME WE HAD WITH HER OVER MONEY, SHE SNAPPED. FOR THAT WE THE CHILDREN PAID TILL THIS DAY. I MISS HER AND SHE IS NOT A DANGER TO ANYONE, BUT THE PERSON SHE HAS ALREADY SHOT.
What crimes did the lawyer perpertate on his ex wife. The crimes they both commiteed left there children with no one.
And the group homes and boot camps were abusive as well.

When the CAS removes a child, it is the child that suffers, and suffers forever, not just the parents. They better have abuslotly no doubt, and someone should be monitering them, how many babys will be removed, and placed for adoption, because there mothers are poor, we as the public, should be watching very closley for abuse of BILL 210. Its not going to save many children, and may indeed harm more, as it has in the US.

Anonymous said...

June 20, 2003 06:14 AM The Toronto Star

Lived tragic lives, died tragic deaths Five young people victims of system They could have been saved: Report


One teen died after a worker charged with her care sat on her back. Another lost his life due to a lack of proper medical treatment. And a third hanged herself while in a detention centre — one of several cries for help during her young life.

These troubled, sick children are among the six young people who died in Ontario-run institutions since 1996. A report released this week by Defence for Children International charges they would still be alive had the province not severely restricted the powers of the Office of Child and Family Service Advocacy.

Yesterday in the Legislature, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty attacked the government's record, asking, "Why have you failed to protect children in care in the province of Ontario?" Brenda Elliott, the minister of community, family and children's services, replied that the Conservatives have enhanced child protection and responded to coroners' inquests calling for more powers for those overseeing children in care.

Inquests into five of the six deaths issued a total of 298 recommendations. The following are snapshots of those five children whose lives and deaths became part of the public record.

In 1996, James Lonnee became the first young offender to die in an Ontario jail.

According to a coroner's report, Lonnee "got into trouble with the law at an early age" and spent much of his youth in secure-custody facilities. He moved between 13 different residential and detention centres between 1995 and 1996 alone.

In early September, 1996, Lonnee, described as highly impulsive, restless and immature for his age, was transferred from the Brookside Youth Centre in Cobourg to the Wellington Detention Centre in Guelph.

While waiting to appear in court, the 16-year-old was placed in a cell, where he was severely beaten by his cellmate.

A nurse discovered Lonnee after she peered through the cell's food slot and saw him lying on the floor, bleeding from the top of his nose and his mouth. He was taken to hospital in Guelph and later transferred to Hamilton General Hospital, where he succumbed to a head injury on Sept. 7.

Among 120 recommendations, a coroner's jury called for the abolition of segregation cells for young offenders.

An inquest found that Stephanie Jobin died from severe brain damage shortly after a staff worker at a Brampton group home sat on her back with a beanbag chair for 20 minutes.

The 13-year-old autistic girl stopped breathing while two female workers were restraining her on June 17, 1998. The second employee held the teen's legs while helping force her to lie face down on the living room floor of Digs for Kids on Vodden St.

Three days later, Stephanie was pronounced dead.

In the months leading up to her death, workers were increasingly forced to restrain Stephanie for biting, head butting and pulling out the hair of her caregivers. She was also pulling out her own hair and slamming her own head against the wall.

The jury at an inquest into her death last December heard Stephanie was placed in the group home and supervised by $10-an-hour caregivers when she should have been at a specialized-care facility with access to health-care professionals. Only one such facility exists in Ontario, the jury was told, and it had no room for Stephanie, a ward of the Peel Children's Aid Society.

Less than one year after Stephanie's death, 13-year-old William Edgar, a ward of the Toronto Children's Aid Society, died after being restrained by a staff member at a group home east of Peterborough in a similar incident.

A child prone to "uncontrollable acts of rage," his outbursts of impulsive, aggressive and destructive behaviour escalated when he learned of his birth father's sudden death in 1996.

After bouncing in and out of foster homes and care facilities in the Toronto area, William was placed at the Keene Residence of the Cavan Youth Services outside of Peterborough in 1997. There, he was frequently restrained by staff members working to calm his destructive behaviour.

On March 29, 1999, when he began to swear and stomp his feet, he was restrained by a 250-pound worker, who held him face down on the floor, according to an inquest into his death.

William died later that night.

The inquest jury called for the province to outlaw the face-down restraint method.

On the day Joshua Durnford, 18, died, the nurse assigned to check his condition at Maplehurst Detention Centre in Milton didn't even open his cell.

An inquest into the Feb. 15, 2000, death of the teen, who had been under the care of the children's aid society since the age of 10, revealed his life could have been saved had he been given proper medical treatment.

A diagnosed "homosexual pedophiliac," Durnford lived in 16 different residential and custodial facilities while growing up. Following several assaults in various group homes, he was sent to Maplehurst, where his condition slowly deteriorated.

In the four days leading up to his death, Durnford complained to staff members of headaches and had difficulty speaking. He had problems dressing himself, was sweating profusely and was found on Feb. 14 lying face down on his mattress, shaking uncontrollably. Staff noted him to be "weak and sweaty" with failing motor skills and slurred speech.

The inquest jury heard that on the morning of his death, a nurse doing medication rounds was asked to see the teen, who could no longer stand. The nurse on duty looked through the door hatch but did not enter the cell.

At 10 a.m., Durnford was transferred to Milton Hospital after Maplehurst staff found him unresponsive, lying in a pool of urine on his mattress. He was pronounced dead at 12:02 p.m.

Durnford, who had a history of "extreme behaviour and interpersonal disturbances," according to a coroner's report, died of neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a side effect of two neuroleptic medications used to treat psychotic illnesses. Staff at Maplehurst failed to review the side effects of the medications or take his temperature, the inquest found.

A teenaged girl who battled depression and bounced from foster home to youth detention centre had her first encounter with the Toronto Children's Aid Society after a suicide attempt in February, 2001.

Suffering from issues of abandonment and isolation, the girl was placed in a Brampton foster home after spending two weeks in the adolescent psychiatric unit at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Following an assault charge for an incident with another child at the foster home, her behaviour declined steadily. She began skipping school and eventually ran away from her foster home. In late June, 2001, she was placed at MacMillan Youth Centre, a detention facility in Milton — the eventual site of her death.

The teen, who had made two previous attempts on her life, was sent to her room for misbehaviour three days after arriving at MacMillan. She constructed a noose from curtains hanging on her bedroom window and hanged herself, an inquest into her death determined. She was pronounced brain-dead on July 3.

She was only 14.

Jurors at the inquest were told no one at MacMillan was informed that the girl was a suicide risk.

At the end of the five-week hearing, jurors made 32 recommendations, including better training for those who work with children.

With files from Caroline Mallan

Anonymous said...

To the poster that said
"When the CAS removes a child, it is the child that suffers, and suffers forever, not just the parents. They better have abuslotly no doubt, and someone should be monitering them, how many babys will be removed, and placed for adoption, because there mothers are poor, we as the public, should be watching very closley for abuse of BILL 210. Its not going to save many children, and may indeed harm more, as it has in the US."

Yes this is a good plan, we all need to monitor the CAS and watch out for stories like Erika Klein who had her child stolen from the child abduction society to provide an infertile couple with a baby. It is an evil industry not likely to save children, but quite likely to kidnap them for total strangers under the "guise" of child protection. It has happened for decades with the worst time period ever being in the 60's.

Anonymous said...

We already are hearing from them, to bad not many are listening,the courts cases that are on going today, and settlements are the history of abuse by child protection the school, and orphanages, the clergy that sexually abused so many. Before anyone calls CAS they should be made aware there are not services to help family's. That is not what the CAS is about at all.
And to watch the crown wards, read the horrendous abuse that has happened in foster care, group homes and speak to someone that has come out of that system. And hit the streets of any major city late at night, and ask the homeless how many of them were in foster care, and or group homes, many are still in care and we are paying for them to sleep on the streets. Not all have run away, but they do run from the abuse of the so called care, and many want to go home. So think, don't buy into the psycho babble, is the CAS the answer, for a child or children you feel are at risk of something , even if they are not the CAS will find some reason for the removal if they feel like it. And that family will be destroyed, and the children will forever suffer, and the cycle continues, not because any parent any mother having a child wants to neglect or abuse a child, there are other issues at play, often poverty, no support not enough skills, drug and alcohol addition, health issues.
No affordable housing the high cost of living, two parent family's today have a hard time, the so called middle class, are struggling today.
I cant imagine what it must be like for a single mom living in Toronto or any place for that matter, paying rent and trying to take care of a child, on welfare. or working for less then welfare gives out. We have become a culture of meanness, how will this effect are children, its not hard to understand they will be much less tolerant of those less fortunate, and special needs children and adults, as many of them are being warehoused drugged by CAS instead of being seen and enjoyed and cherished in the public school system and city parks.
We as a society should be doing more to protect children, and family's. And modeling that behaviour for our children. Not the psychopathic governments. No that's paranoid thinking they meet the axis level. As do almost all corporations and
the CAS is an industry and with more numbered companies that spin off it, spins my head.

Anonymous said...

I am writing on behalf of my Daughter in law.
Up until 1986, it was the official policy of the Canadian gvt to remove Our children from thier homes and to "foster" them with good, white, christian Canadian Families.
My Daughter In Law was one of these many children. She is now 22 years old and suffered horribly at the hands of various "foster families", and though she is a young adult with a child of her own...CAS has refused to tell her who her parents are OR obtain her status card, to which she is entitled.
Renee is less interested in her card, than she is in finding her birth least to let them know she is alright...and perhaps to have them meet her son.
CAS has only given her the following info:
- Her Mom was Nishnabe Kwe, born with an incomplete arm.
- She has a brother approx 1 year older who was also taken away and adopted out.

She was adopted after being made a "ward of the crown", her adoptive parents abandoned her at the age of 12, at a home for troubled kids.
She was then shuffled from one "warehouse" to another. People make big $$$$ to warehouse kids....until she became involved with my Son She never even had a chance to learn to cook, run a household....after school she went to her room til supper and then went back to her room (house rules). As long as she went to school and stayed quiet in her room, the so called Foster Mom was content.
The only thing CAS allowed her to have was a "memory book" a couple of photos of her mom and grandmom, ( which a fellow foster kid tore up on her) which mentioned her Nishnabe Heritage.

Anonymous said...

What You Need to Know About the Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005

The Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005, will allow more open access to adoption records for adult adoptees and birth parents. The changes will be applied retroactively and apply to all adoptees whose adoptions were registered in Ontario.

Full implementation of the legislation will occur approximately 18 months after passage of the legislation. The 18-month transition period will allow the government to ensure the right procedures and processes are in place to file "no contact" notices and conduct searches for information. The transition period will also allow time for adoptees and birth parents to learn about their new information and privacy rights under the legislation, and to determine if they want to request a "no contact" notice on their file.

Once the legislation is in full effect, it will allow:

* An adopted person who is 18 years old or older to obtain a copy of his or her original birth record and adoption order. The adoptee would be able to learn about his or her original name at birth. These documents may also provide identifying information about birth parents.

* A birth parent to obtain the information contained in the birth registration and the adoption order of the child they gave up for adoption, once that child reaches 19 years of age. These documents may provide identifying information on the adoptee including their name after adoption. Any information about the adoptive parents would be removed.

* A birth parent or adoptee who does not wish to be contacted to put a "no contact" notice on their record. The individual requesting the "no contact" notice would be asked to voluntarily provide family and medical history and a brief statement about his or her reasons for filing a "no contact" notice.

* Sanctions for violation of a "no contact" notice up to $50,000 for an individual or up to $250,000 for a corporation.

* Birth parents and adoptees to apply to the Child and Family Services Review Board to prevent disclosure of identifying information where there are concerns for personal safety.

Ontario’s adoption disclosure register will continue to operate as usual for an interim period. In the coming months, the register’s functions will begin to wind down to prepare for the transition to the new adoption information disclosure process.

It is planned, during this wind-down period, that the register will only accept new applications and requests for new searches if there are severe medical issues involved. Register and search applications already submitted will be processed during the transition period, with priority given to severe medical searches. Once the Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005, is in full effect, all non-medical searches will be discontinued.

Ministry of Community Ministère des Services


Anonymous said...

It was the Policy of the Federal Gvts to remove Native Children from Our Families for any possible excuse...many have now heard of the atrocities committed in Residential Schools.
But it is a little known fact that even more of Our Children were stolen from us due to the intervention of the CAS,once again at the direction of both Federal and Provincial Gvts.
Many of these children are also of mixed blood heritage, and have no way to find thier way home to us.


Anonymous said...

Bruno Schlumberger, The Ottawa Citizen
Ombudsman Andre Marin spent five years as a prosecutor in the Ottawa Crown Attorney's office. He still maintains an Ottawa residence and alternates between here and Toronto.

'I'm where the buck stops': Ontario's straight-talking ombudsman, who lambasted the property assessment system last week, is driven. Even his morning run, he tells Don Butler, doesn't stop until he's made a few work decisions
The Ottawa Citizen
Sun 02 Apr 2006
Page: A7
Section: News
Byline: Don Butler
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
At 41, Andre Marin has already spent a decade in high-profile jobs protecting ordinary people from abuse by powerful institutions. Along the way, he's regularly butted heads with those in authority and accumulated an impressive list of enemies.

Mr. Marin, who was appointed Ontario's ombudsman a year ago after seven tempestuous years as Canada's first military ombudsman, shows no sign of softening his approach. Last week he issued a stinging report about the province's property value assessment system, levelling a series of typically blunt broadsides at the responsible agency, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).

He's also issued toughly worded reports on everything from the province's failure to test newborns for a variety of diseases to complaints that parents were being forced to place their severely disabled children in the custody of Children's Aid Societies to obtain necessary care.

Mr. Marin sat down with the Citizen to talk about his approach to oversight. What follows is an edited transcript.

How has your first year as Ontario ombudsman gone?

Very good. We've progressed from invisibility, hanging off the cliff of elimination, to the office being where it was supposed to be when it was created in 1975. In November of 2004, the council of deputy ministers had recommended the elimination of the office to the premier. The office was on the chopping block.

Why had the ombudsman's office reached that low point?

These jobs can really be shaped by whoever's in the job. What you want to do is be a watchdog and not a lapdog. A lot of the people who get these jobs are retired judges and people who use this as a final career. It's not their career of choice. This is my chosen career. It's what I do for a living.

Has anything surprised you?

The government has been a lot more responsive than I would have anticipated. When I was the military ombudsman, the military was very cold to the issue of oversight. The bureaucracy and the chain of command ran the minister, as opposed to the other way around. And I reported to the minister. Everything was like pulling teeth. I guess I hadn't realized that when you report to the legislature, you don't have a boss per se. What's impressed me is the high moral authority of the office, and the ability to make a difference.

Why do we need ombudsmen?

Properly run, an ombudsman is the ultimate check and balance for democracy. I do what MPPs can't do. MPAC is a perfect example. There was no appetite in government to move on reforming MPAC. We were able to get into the picture and make a real difference, making that Crown corporation accountable back to the people.

Are you satisfied with MPAC's response?

MPAC, as one would say in the old days, took it like a man. They took their lumps. They indicated that they want to move forward and accepted the recommendations. I have to commend MPAC for resisting what I've seen all too often, which is to deal with oversight more as a public relations challenge than in substance.

What's your next priority?

We need to take a real good crack at our jurisdiction. Close to 80 per cent of taxpayers' revenue generated by the province is not spent by the province. It's spent by private bodies that are unaccountable to the ombudsman. I'll give you an example. The ministry of education passes a policy of zero tolerance in schools. I oversee the bureaucrat who writes the policy. Do I oversee the school boards that actually implement it? No, I don't, and its provincial money. Another example is the children's aid societies, 53 of them, all run privately. We cut them $1.5 billion of provincial taxpayers' money every year, yet we have no accountability for the administrative decisions they make on a daily basis affecting the most vulnerable people in society. I think that's a problem.

How receptive is the province to expanding your jurisdiction?

There's been a lukewarm response. Everybody talks about accountability and oversight. But the problem is, it's hard to find true champions of oversight. We need to pass from rhetoric to action. It's tough medicine, because no one likes to have someone look over your shoulder. The attitude you often get is, 'not in my back yard.' Recently Bill 210 passed, which revamped children's aid societies. There was a golden opportunity there to bring in the ombudsman, and the bureaucrats in the ministry were very successful in blocking it.

Could your blunt style sometimes be counterproductive?

My sole authority is moral suasion. I need to have the support of the population when I move on an issue. The best way to do that is to be very clear in your statements and to be very understandable. I can write mumbo-jumbo like anybody else, but it doesn't convey the message very clearly. We take 23,000 complaints a year in our office, and the ones you hear about are the big systemic ones. The rest are done with utmost diplomacy and with a gentle, soft-love approach. But you are a watchdog. You have to bark once in a while.

Are you a rabble-rouser by nature?

Somebody told me the other day that I was a rebel within the system. No, I don't think I'm a rabble-rouser at all. I take these jobs very seriously. I'm where the buck stops. When I strongly believe that there's something wrong, I'm going to get it changed. It's that simple. You don't get into these jobs to be popular. You get into these jobs to be taken seriously. Because if you're not taken seriously, you can't influence change. I mean, I'm doing the job the hard way. It would be a lot easier for me to travel around the world and preach democracy.

What's been your worst experience as an ombudsman?

Dealing with political staff. I once dealt with a political staffer as military ombudsman who said, 'This will be the last job you'll ever get in this city.' I think the political assistants deal with oversight in a very amateurish, bullying way.

Have you considered a career in politics?

No, this is where I belong. This is my element.

How do you deal with the pressures of your job?

I work out every single day. I do weights, I run five to 10 kilometres or more every day. I don't go to the gym or run as an escape. To me, it's work because my mind never stops turning. When I go for a run, I give myself two, three, four decisions to make before I come back, and I don't stop running until I've made a decision. To me it's absolutely essential to my productivity. I'm addicted to it.

Describe your typical work day.

I get up usually by 4:30. I haven't set an alarm clock in 30 years. When my staff get up, they each have e-mails already piling up on their Blackberries. I do a review of the news. I usually do my workout in the morning. And then get on to business.

Who's had the greatest influence on you?

I've always been a big fan of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I've always appreciated his single-mindedness, some people would say arrogance. I find a lot of the things he stood for -- his passion for physical activity, for doing the right thing, for individual freedoms -- those are all things that really influenced my way of thinking.

• Photo: Bruno Schlumberger, The Ottawa Citizen / Ombudsman Andre Marin spent five years as a prosecutor in the Ottawa Crown Attorney's office. He still maintains an Ottawa residence and alternates between here and Toronto.

Edition: Final
Story Type: Interview
Note: Interview with Andre Marin.
Length: 1246 words

Anonymous said...

Children's Aid Society following their orders
Dave Brown
The Ottawa Citizen

When child protectors took a five-day-old baby from his mother, who has cerebral palsy, they created opportunities.

Their actions Friday showed beyond a doubt: there has to be a better way.

There's opportunity here to defend the protectors. They tend to become demonized in these cases. They are simply following orders that are, in fact, legislation that we, as a society, have made to protect children. These orders, however, are the strongest and most intrusive laws ever drawn by any civilization; with special courts in which burden of proof or rules of evidence are unnecessary.

Now, the protectors are told, don't ever allow another child to be harmed, and God help you if you fail.

At some point in this latest case, the protectors were alerted to a possible problem. A decision had to be made. Would this newborn be safe with a mother in a wheelchair with limited hand and arm control? How could promises of support from members of mother's church be factored in? Would the unemployed but able-bodied father be able to pick up the slack? What would be in the best interests of the child?

If the protectors know more than has been revealed so far, they can't say so. As the case develops, concerns beyond the mother's disability may be put on the table. The seemingly harsh action could be right.

Meanwhile, the safe play, as always, is to let a court decide. So the baby was taken into care, a euphemism for custody.

The moment that decision was made, lawyers became involved. The paperwork started piling up, and it will become known as the "trial record." Less and less mention will be made of the child as the trial progresses. Lawyers will say things like: "If your honour will turn to the trial record, book two, tab 28, section c, paragraph two ..."

During this, the court will order assessments of the parents. Persons, who for court purposes are "expert witnesses," will prepare reports. They are people who claim, through credentials from schools of psychology or psychiatry, to be able to predict human behaviour.

The judge will be under the same pressure as the protectors. If he or she returns the child to the parents and the child is hurt, accidentally or otherwise, there will be public outrage.

The safe play? Base decisions on the reports of the mind-readers.

In a way, that takes us back to where we were 300 years ago. Witch hunters were not bad people. They believed in witches. They were trained by clergy in methods of detecting them. The Salem judge who condemned some 20 people to death wasn't a bad man. He listened to the experts, thought to himself that this was some kind of spooky science, but he wasn't going to risk the lives of children because of his lack of knowledge in that field.

One week ago, I sat in an Ottawa courtroom in a different child protection case and watched a psychiatrist go through eight hours of tough cross examination by lawyer Wendy Rogers. The psychiatrist's report recommends the children in question be made Crown wards and be taken into state care. His recommendations throughout his report are based on "observations."

He admitted those observations were, for the most part, made by child protection workers and relayed to him. He defended this type of secondhand observing with a baffling statement. "Accuracy is not as important as continuity."

That trial is stalled because Ms. Rogers wants to cross-examine the apprehending caseworker, Dianna Payne, who is on extended bereavement leave following the death of her mother a few days into the trial. Meanwhile, three sisters aged seven to 10 remain separated from each other, uncertain and in custody, where they've been for three years. The children's lawyer, Lynn Keller, is on record as saying: "I represent three children who want to go home."

Monday, I sat in another family court and listened to lawyer Frank Armitage complain about the same inability to get another apprehending caseworker into the witness box. The social worker, Peggy Couture, is on extended sick leave and although Mr. Armitage was on the opening day of a five-week trial, he could not get details of the illness, or a promise the witness would be available before trial's end.

Children's Aid Society lawyers are now protecting the best interests of their client. The client is the CAS.

In the cerebral palsy case, we, as a society, make stupid use of financial resources. We will spend half a million dollars (a conservative estimate) grinding the parents through court processes that will take years. We will pay foster parents to care for the child, and protection workers to monitor visits by the parents. Should the foster parents become stressed, we will provide respite care.

For a fraction of the cost, we could send help to the home and keep a family together. But that's not built into the protection system. There is no Parents' Aid Society.

We should pay attention to a slogan favoured by Hillary Clinton. "It takes a village to raise a child."

Here's an idea from a woman with three children in diapers: Where does she sign up to volunteer to spend one day a week for three years with the disabled mother? If somebody will handle the co-ordination, she's sure there would be more than enough volunteer moms to help get this baby on his feet.

Such a co-ordinator would not be able to meet screening standards set by our child-protection system. Should the CAS do it? That's not part of the mandate.

Hawaii has reduced incidents of child abuse and neglect by 99 per cent by putting moms into the protection system. The program is called Healthy Start, and is based on the fact the persons most likely to first spot a child at risk will be the hospital staff present at its birth. If they report a problem, the system sends in not social workers, lawyers and shrinks, but a proven mother who has raised good children. For those most important first three years, she becomes almost part of the family.

In Ontario, there are more than 50 child-protection agencies, and each is autonomous. They are "arm's-length" agencies, which means they have little oversight and almost no accountability.

Regional Councillor Alex Munter has long been a proponent of allowing Ontario's ombudsman to provide that oversight. The province's recently appointed ombudsman, former judge and police complaints commissioner Clare Lewis, says he's open to the idea. It would require only tinkering with existing legislation.

Meanwhile, each individual agency is mandated to enforce a set of laws called the Child and Family Services Act. By definition, they are police departments --without controls.

Dave Brown is the Citizen's senior editor. His e-mail address is .

Read previous Dave Brown columns at

Jeffrey's Law said...

'Children's Aid Societies Following Their Orders'- Very good article, thank you for posting it!

I think all of these points are why we should have crisis nursery's. Why is it that foster parents have respite but natural ones do not? CAS has volunteers that drive foster kids to appointments if the foster family can't or doesn't want to; volunteers to take the kids for lengths of time to give the foster family 'a break', etc., etc!!

I've never heard of a baby being born with an instruction manual; the best teacher is experience. What a wonderful idea for experienced mom's to help and teach new ones who may not have access to maternal relatives. My mom, after the four of us went to school, would go to homes and hang out with the new mom's showing them how to play with their young children, taught them how to cook, give baths, and just listened to the women. My mom loved it and said that these women thrived with knowledge of how to properly care for their children. Why don't we have THAT? I'd volunteer to help new mothers!

It shouldn't be scary to ask for help, the stresses (financial, relationships, self worth and confidence) are already there when people need a hand!

***No, I haven't heard more from the Toronto Star reporter****

Anonymous said...

Good piece but dated - it's about 6 years old! Goes to show nothin's changed since then!

Jeffrey's Law said...

Six years old?? If anything, things have gotten worse!

Anonymous said...

CAS argues infant was taken because of father's behaviour
Mother's disability not a factor in decision, lawyer tells court
Peter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen

A 13-day-old boy's fate is in an Ottawa judge's hands after a Children's Aid Society lawyer argued yesterday that the behaviour of the newborn's father, and not his disabled mother, places the baby at risk.

The CAS, which last week seized the then-five-day-old child from hospital and placed him in foster care, argued at an emergency custody hearing that the baby should be placed for the next three months with his maternal grandmother.

The child's mother, who is in her mid-20s, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. She has said that the CAS focused on her disability in taking away her baby, literally as she was breastfeeding in hospital.

However, CAS lawyer Martha Tweedie argued in court yesterday: "The difficulty does not lie in the mother's disability."

She argued that the baby, who was born healthy on May 26, would be at risk because the 22-year-old father is "overwhelmed" as it is caring for his disabled wife and assisting his father, who also has a disability.

"He is not going to be able to shoulder the additional burden," Ms. Tweedie said. The CAS first became aware of the couple after a hospital employee called with concerns about the father's ability to cope with a newborn.

The apartment the couple lives in has been poorly kept and unhygienic, and a public health nurse who visited June 3 expressed concerns that breastmilk collected for the child could become contaminated, Ms. Tweedie said.

She also stated that the father has an anger management problem. His arguments with his wife have led to police and apartment security being called, court heard.

The couple cannot be named because their child's identity is protected under the Child and Family Services Act.

Lawyer Danielle Dworsky, who represents the child's father, condemned the CAS's treatment of her client and his wife. "This couple has been treated with such disrespect by the society," she said.

The CAS's assertions against the father are exaggerations and fabrications, Ms. Dworsky said. The father was clearly anxious and upset when his son was born as his wife's pregnancy was high-risk and he had been barred from the operating room, Ms. Dworsky explained. "He did not know whether his wife was going to live or die," she said.

She said the couple, who have been together for three years, are loving, committed and well-supported by their fellow Mormon churchgoers.

"I would be concerned about depriving a child of parents who are so committed to each other," Ms. Dworsky said.

Ms. Tweedie did refer to the mother's disability, saying the young mother cannot get up at night for her child. It is doubtful the mother can carry or hold her son on her own, Ms. Tweedie added.

George MacPherson, the mother's lawyer, acknowledged his client's apartment might be messy at times because her wheelchair tracks in dirt.

Court also heard fruit flies were in the apartment and it smelled of urine. Mr. MacPherson responded that the fruit flies are now gone and while his client's incontinence might cause unpleasant odours, a bad smell doesn't place the child at risk.

"Incontinence is not incompetence," Ms. Dworsky added.

Mr. MacPherson said his client will have to be careful, but she is used to being careful. "There's no evidence she tried to do caregiving beyond her abilities," he said. "Her child is entitled to her strengths as well as her limitations," Mr. MacPherson said.

Ms. Dworsky said the baby's maternal grandmother, with whom the CAS would place the child, has an "ulterior motive." She noted the grandmother is not willing to take in her daughter and grandson, or to move in to assist them.

Outside court, the father said his mother-in-law has only spoken to him twice in the last three years. "There's only a few members of her family that like me," the father said.

Outside court, the grandmother said: "My intentions are solely to provide a safe, neutral home for the baby until they can get the services they so desperately need."

Before the CAS apprehended the baby, the couple had turned to the CAS for help in obtaining services, including an attendant care apartment which would have given the mother assistance for needs such as being transferred from her wheelchair to a sofa.

The couple is on a waiting list for the service, which is not likely to be available to them until next year, court heard.

The couple has had the services of a visiting homemaker as well as a public health nurse and occupational therapist. Court heard the couple are receptive and friendly to professional help, and want to learn to be good parents.

"So they need help cleaning their home. Give them that help," said Ms. Dworsky.

"There needs to be services in place that aren't quite there yet," Ms. Tweedie said. Until then, the baby is at risk, she contended.

Justice Jennifer Blishen gives her decision Monday. Until then, the parents are allowed to see their baby four hours each day.

The messy house, its right here, and build the case as they go along, its never what it seems, there lawyer is well known she use to work FOR CAS and changed sides, there are two in Ottawa, both will tell you the true horror of the CAS. I know I interviewed them both. A mom with a disablity, they use, how they get away with it is beyond me, it against Human Rights but much of what they do is.

Anonymous said...

Children's Aid assailed for taking baby from disabled mother
Woman with cerebral palsy fights to have son returned
Adrian Humphreys
National Post, with files from Ottawa Citizen

Disability groups say the removal by Children's Aid Society workers of a five-day-old baby from his mother, who has cerebral palsy, will cause a "parenting chill" among disabled couples.

The baby boy was removed on Friday from his mother's care in Ottawa while she was breast-feeding the child, said the boy's father, who does not have a disability.

"They had the nurse unlatch him from my wife's breast while she was feeding him, take him to the nursery and dress him. They're trying to make my wife look incompetent. They're saying I can't look after both my wife and baby."

The mother, who cannot be named because it would identify her baby, uses a wheelchair and has limited use of her arms and legs. She is in court this week, arguing for the return of her baby.

"It's been heartbreaking," she said. "We know he's in foster care, but we have no idea where. Neither of us can stand it."

The couple had been trying for three years to have a baby. There were four miscarriages, including a set of twins, before their son was born by Caesarean section on May 26.

The executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton said she could not comment on this case directly.

The CAS would likely have other reasons besides disability for a decision to remove a child, said Susan Abell, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton.

She did call "absurd" an allegation that a CAS worker took a Polaroid photograph of the baby before taking him away and, when giving the picture to the distraught mother, said: "There's your consolation prize."

"When people are upset and in crisis and angry, they see things the way they see them," said Ms. Abell.

"We do the work we do with as much sensitivity as we can, but if that is the way they remember it or want to describe it there is not a lot we can do, other than say we are always trying -- even in very stressful situations -- to keep in mind what it is like for the mother and child."

Activists for the disabled say the case will be followed very closely.

"It is a very difficult thing to go through being discriminated against and most people will try to avoid situations where that happens. It will be really too bad if anyone misses out on the experience of parenthood because of a perception that there is hostility out there to what they want to do," said Mel Graham, spokesman for the Council of Canadians With Disabilities, a Winnipeg-based advocacy group.

Kevin Kinsella, 34, an Ottawa man with cerebral palsy who knows the couple, said the situation makes he and his wife nervous.

"We have been thinking of having children but this makes us shy away and there is no reason why we should be shying away. But this scares me. It makes me nervous to have children. It is not fair. It is inhumane."

Anonymous said...

discussion Paper #3 -- Protecting Parental Liberty in a Child-Centered Legal System

1. Preface and Summary
2. About the Author: by Cindy Silver
3. Family Autonomy and the Charter of Rights: Protecting Parental Liberty in a Child-Centered Legal Systemd

Preface and Summary

Throughout history the relationship between the state and the family and the role and duties assigned to each has been much debated. Some have seen the family as a servant of the state while others have seen the state's role as essentially to provide families with the security they need to do their work as the primary unit for raising children as future citizens. In his book, The Socialist Phenomenon (New York: Harper & Row, 1980), Igor Shafarevich, once a professor of mathematics at Moscow University, catalogued the historic tendencies of a certain type of utopian socialism which sought a perfected or utopian state it believed could be achieved if only society was restructured in certain ways. Shafarevich traced this type of socialism through antiquity, the heresies of the Middle Ages and the Reformation, the utopian writings of philosophers such as More and Campanella, the state socialism of the Inca Empire, the 18th Century Jesuit state in Paraguay and the ancient Orient. Over this wide expanse of time and place, Shafarevich noted three trajectories common to utopian restructuring: the abolition of private property, the abolition of religion and the abolition of the family. One does not need to become paranoid in order to notice that in Canada today these three institutions are, in fact, under considerable strain. Particularly with respect to the family, there are signs that it is once again time to renew the discussion about the proper role of the family in a free and democratic society.

There is always a tension between the state and the parts that make it up. The state and its institutions must always be careful to facilitate the function of the family without usurping its proper role. The state has a role to play in ensuring that the lives of children are not threatened by neglect or abuse but must be careful not to tread on the independence of the family. The state exists, so the principle of subsidiarity tells us, to facilitate and assist the smaller units, not to occupy their proper "space" in society.

In past decades, ideological camps have arisen which have called, on occasion, for the abolition of any demarcation between the family and the state. This idea, as old as Plato, threatens the notion that the family is, and ought to be, the first "school of virtue" for citizens. Unfortunately, as virtue itself has slowly evaporated from consciousness (a result of its gradual disappearance from formal education itself), the family's role in the teaching and propagation of a coherent understanding of virtue and character has also become misty. When key aspects of social life cease to be argued for, debated and taught, it is only a question of time before they become threatened by acts of commission or by neglect.

There is growing evidence that this tension between the state and family may be in need of examination and correction at this time. Such correction will involve, as part of its task, the re-articulation of the family, its nature and its proper place in civil society. If this task of description or re-membering does not occur, there is a risk that those who seek deliberately to weaken the family will triumph, not because their arguments are better but because the rest have lost any sense of what the family's proper role and duties are and how to argue for them. But, prior to any proper prescription, one must first be convinced that the diagnosis is sound.

In this paper Vancouver lawyer Cindy Silver, who has followed developments in this area for some years, has chosen to examine the effects of recent development in national and international law that touch on the issue of "family autonomy". She notes the importance of seeking "the best interests of the child" in certain circumstances but sounds a note of warning lest the ambit of such inquiries extend beyond those where the lives of children are actually at stake. It is not the state's place, for example, to make determinations about the religious education a child gets from its family nor should a family's religious beliefs be a relevant factor in "child apprehension" cases. It will come as a considerable shock to some people to realize that just this sort of inquiry has occurred in Canada in recent years.

We do not need to subscribe to the view that the family is under threat of imminent abolition in Canada in order to decide that it is time to start asking some hard questions. First amongst these are questions that relate to how we are to protect family autonomy in a society that is given over more and more to forms of state control and state regulation that allow less and less scope for the exercise of meaningful family autonomy. It is useful to reflect, for example, on whether parents in Canada at the present time have an effective choice about the type of curriculum their children are going to be taught from in systems supported by their own tax dollars. How accountable is the public school system and what can be done to make it effectively accountable? While these questions are not dealt with in this paper, they arise when its central theme is considered more broadly. Effective family autonomy is not something we can take for granted even within existing institutions in Canada and, as Silver shows in her paper, there is now a sufficient basis in documented cases for politicians and policy makers to take positive steps to ensure that valid concerns about the welfare of children are not used in ways which inject the state and the courts into areas they have no proper place to enter.

Considerable work will be necessary in the future if we are to discover what aspects of civil society need to be strengthened so that families will have the resources they need. It is hoped that by showing some key recent developments that touch on the place of family autonomy in Canadian society, this paper will contribute to a broader discussion of the issues so that the state and the family can begin to occupy their proper places.

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About the Author: Cindy Silver

Cindy Silver obtained a Bachelor of Arts cum laude from the University of Saskatchewan, a law degree from the University of British Columbia and was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1992 as a Barrister and Solicitor. She has worked as a consultant on issues related to public education and matters relating to the status of the family in society.

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Family Autonomy and the Charter of Rights: Protecting Parental Liberty in a Child-Centered Legal System Protecting Parental Liberty in a Child-Centered Legal System

by Cindy Silver

Recognition of due process and the retained rights of parents promotes values essential to the preservation of human freedom and dignity and to the perpetuation of our democratic society. The family is the principal conservator and transmitter of cherished values and traditions. Any invasion of the sanctity of the family, even for the loftiest motives, unavoidably threatens those traditions and values.

Family autonomy helps to assure the diversity characteristic of a free society. There is no surer way to preserve pluralism than to allow parents maximum latitude in rearing their own children. Conversely, there is no surer way to threaten pluralism than to terminate the rights of parents who contradict officially approved values imposed by reformers empowered to determine what is in the 'best interests of the child."1

Canadians live in a world where post-modern human rights are now a driving force, challenging the philosophical and legal traditions on which our social institutions are based.2 This is nowhere so evident as in the radical restructuring of the roles and relationships of the family and the state, while the state takes an evermore active role in protecting child rights as defined under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.3 This paper discusses the impact on the family of state attempts to both define and protect "the best interests of the child." In particular, it brings to light internal contradictions in child-rights jurisprudence, particularly when the state's power collides with the parent's right to liberty under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights.

This paper discusses recent ideological and legal developments that challenge the a priori right of parents to nurture, maintain and educate their children free from undue interference of the state. It reviews the macro-social, philosophical and legal traditions that underlie Canada's long- standing policy of respecting the autonomous nature of the nuclear family. It examines changes in federal and provincial policies as a result of Canada's commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the plan for which is contained in Brighter Futures: Canada's Action Plan for Children.4 It discusses the role that non-governmental organizations (N.G.O.s) currently play in initiating policy changes and how this might be affected by a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision that places parental rights squarely within Section 7 of the Charter of Rights. Deconstructing the Family, Promoting the Child

As Canadian law and policy moves from an implicitly Christian framework to an explicitly secular one, the conceptual roles and legal rights of family members are being redefined. The once implicit right of parents to raise their children free from the undue intervention of the state has become obscured, while the individual rights of children have become a primary focus.

Before the Charter, family autonomy and parental rights enjoyed a quasi-constitutional legitimacy. This was derived primarily from the Canadian Bill of Rights, the preamble of which states:

The Parliament of Canada affirming that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person and the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions.

Affirming also that men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for social and spiritual values and the rule of law.

As a constitutional document, the Charter of Rights is now primary in determining human-rights issues and, in practical application, prevails over the Canadian Bill of Rights. The Charter's preamble, now the definitive purpose statement for the protection of human rights in Canada, is much shorter and has deleted references to the family: "Whereas Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law."

By deleting express reference to the family, the Charter of Rights removed from plain view the grounds for constitutional protection of parental and family rights. This omission has contributed significantly to the demise of family autonomy and the devaluing of the family in law and legislation.

Although the Charter failed to mention the family, it did specify age as a prohibited ground for discrimination within Section 15(1), a characteristic not mentioned in the anti-discrimination provisions of the Canadian Bill of Rights. Section 15(1) states:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

The inclusion of age as a prohibited ground for discrimination effectively changed the constitutional status of children to one of prima facie equality with adults. Although age-based challenges have proved unlikely to succeed, the fact remains that any legislation that distinguishes children from adults based on age is vulnerable to challenge under Section 15 (1).

Even as the Charter was being developed and implemented in Canada, there was a growing sense elsewhere that the rights of children were being ignored. Initially there was concern than, at the very least, children should be guaranteed protective rights, including the right to proper nutrition, basic medical care, hygiene and literacy, and the right to be protected from child labor, child prostitution, and the atrocities of war. Then, as child-rights theory became more sophisticated, human-rights groups included their concern that there was an 'epidemic' of family violence, including child abuse, in the developed world.5

Child-rights advocates argued that abuse within the family was rooted in and perpetuated by the hierarchical authority structure of the traditional family and by the veil of privacy that discouraged government intervention in family matters. The solution, they believed, was for the state to shift the balance of power in the parent-child relationship through policies that would define and limit the power of the parent while increasing the power of child. This would necessarily include changing the legal status of the child from an integral part of the family unit to an individual rights-possessor, and then conferring on the child explicit decision-making choice rights.

In 1979, the United Nations (U.N.) proclaimed the International Year of the Child, an event that set in motion a ten-year process that culminated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The final document reflects an attempt to address all of the concerns raised by child-rights groups. As a result, the U.N. Convention confers both protective rights, and choice rights, thereby establishing a presumption that children should be able to act autonomously whenever possible.

The Convention, which Canada ratified in December, 1991, includes the following choice rights:6

Article 13 - the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds...whether orally or in writing, in the form of art...or through any other media of the child's choice.
Article 14 - the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Article 15 - the right to freedom of association.
Article 16 - the right to privacy.
Article 19 - the right to be free from all forms of physical and mental violence.7

The U.N. Convention and the Charter of Rights have become powerful companions for defining the scope of child-rights. Together, these documents function as the reference point for the development of child-rights law in Canada. Both documents emphasize the state's role in protecting the autonomy of the individual against the institutions of society. In functional terms, this has recast the state and its courts as child-advocate against parents.

In a recent article, Iain Benson, Executive Director of the Centre for Cultural Renewal, discusses the theoretical and functional chaos that is being created as our society attempts to separate the technique of the academic disciplines from a shared understanding as to their purpose within the social good.8 Recent developments in child-rights law illustrate the problem Benson describes. The technique, or theory, that defines child rights has expanded and become more sophisticated, while a shared understanding as to the purpose of child rights as components of the social good has become increasingly narrow. This separation of technique and purpose largely explains the present confusion as to the goals of child-rights law reform, not only among academics but among the offices of government and the courts. Having severed the connection between its technique and its purpose, child-rights theory, policy and law are in chaos; our society is trying to define child rights without clear reference to family autonomy or parental rights, and without deference to the best interests of society. This is a no-win situation, analogous to placing children in a speeding vehicle on an unmarked road with no clear destination.
Constitutional Challenges and the Role of N.G.O.s

A brief review of a few recent cases best illustrates the present chaos in child-rights law reform. In May 1995, in the case of R. v. Carmen M., the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down Section 159 of the Criminal Code after the defendant argued successfully that this section violated Section 15(1) of the Charter of Rights.9 In this case, the defendant was charged under Section 159 for engaging in anal sex with a fourteen-year-old youth. Section 159 made it a criminal offense to engage in anal sex unless both parties consented and were at least 18 years-old or married. In contrast, the age of consent for heterosexual sex was 14 years. Focusing on the discrepancy in the law regarding the age of consent, the accused argued that this section violated the equality rights of youth to consent to anal sex after age 14.

The Crown conceded that the age distinction created by Section 159 was discriminatory, but argued that the distinction was justified under Section 1 of the Charter. They argued that the section had a legitimate objective in protecting young persons from engaging in a specific form of sexual activity, anal intercourse, for which there were increased risks of physical and psychological problems, including the transmission of HIV. However, Madame Justice Russell, relying on the recent federal court decision in Halm v. Canada, struck down the law on the grounds that it discriminated on the basis of both age and sexual orientation.10

In Halm v Canada, Mr. Halm was denied immigrant status and faced extradition after authorities learned that he had recently failed to appear for sentencing after being convicted of ten sex offenses in New York State, including five counts of sodomy and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.11

Halm appealed Canada's decision to deport him back to New York State for sentencing. He argued that Section 159, the Canadian equivalent of the charge for which he had been convicted, contained an age discrepancy that violated Section 15(1) of the Charter, therefore rendering the section unconstitutional and invalid. He argued that, in the absence of Section 159, the acts for which he was convicted would have been legal if they had occurred in Canada, therefore the immigration officials lacked the grounds necessary to deport him.

In Halm v. Canada, Madame Justice Reed held that Section 159 violated the Charter on both the enumerated ground of age and the analogous ground of sexual orientation. Like Madame Justice Russell in Carmen M., she rejected the government's argument that the section served three legitimate objectives, reinforcing moral precepts, inhibiting youth from engaging in anal sexual activity and protecting youth from the increased risk of HIV transmission.

In rejecting the first objective, Madame Justice Reed stated:

I agree that there has always been a close connection between the Criminal Code and moral values. That does not mean, however, that today in our pluralistic society, moral values alone can justify making an activity criminal. If it could, one immediately has to ask, by whose moral values is the state to be guided? I am not persuaded that in a free and democratic society it is justifiable to make an activity criminal merely because a segment, indeed maybe a majority, of the citizenry consider it to be immoral.12

Responding to the second and third legislative objectives, to discourage anal sex and prevent HIV transmission among youth, Madame Justice Reed stated:

All of the evidence indicates that AIDS is spread by a number of activities (sharing needles among drug users, blood transfusions, both anal and vaginal sex). In absolute numbers, it would appear that anal sex is the least frequent method of transmission. It is not rational to make one such activity a criminal offense and not the others. Also, while unprotected anal sex may be riskier, as a potential conduit for HIV transmission than vaginal sex, in both cases it is unprotected sex which is the cause, not the activity itself.13

In both Halm and Carmen M., the government did not appeal, notwithstanding the fact that a Quebec court facing the same issue that year upheld Section 159 in a well-reasoned judgement.14

Several child-rights groups, including a government-funded N.G.O. called Justice for Children and Youth, intervened in Carmen M. to strike down Section 159. The final ruling of the court was described by the intervenors as a victory for the right of youth to make sexual choices and to have equal legal access to all sexual activity.

It is difficult to understand how this could be construed as a significant advance for children's rights as contemplated by early proponents of protective rights for children. However, the issue in this case was one of choice rights and was based on an unqualified concept of youth as individual rights-possessors. This accounts for the complete failure of the court to justify its decision in terms of the "best interests of the child," or to refer anywhere to the autonomy of the family or to the interests of parents in policy issues that could potentially effect their children.

Justice for Children and Youth is one of several child-rights N.G.O.s presently playing a leading role in child-rights law reform in Canada. This is unsettling given that the ideology of many influential child-rights N.G.O.s is not only inordinately child-centered, but in many cases, antipathetic to established authority. The focus of these organizations is too often on defending the child against authority, whether exercised by social agents or parents.

The activities of organizations such as Justice for Children and Youth illustrate the functional chaos that is resulting as the Canadian government funds and mobilizes N.G.O.s in order to promote child rights without a contextual framework that gives due weight to parental rights.

Since 1992, the federal government has allocated $459 million toward conforming Canada's law and policy to the provisions of the U.N. Convention. Part of this amount was used in 1992 to create the Children's Bureau of Health Canada, whose mandate is to "ensure consistency and coordination for all federal programs and policies for children."15 From its inception, the Children's Bureau has worked with federal and provincial N.G.O.s to develop and implement Brighter Futures: Canada's Action Plan for Children, which is a massive effort "to work through all sectors of society - business, labor, communities, other governments, N.G.O.s, families and individuals -- to improve the lives of children."16 Most state intervention in the parent-child relationship occurs at the provincial level. Provincial legislation empowers social workers to undertake measures that intrude on the autonomy of the family and the rights of the parents. For example, social workers are empowered to conduct inquiries and petition the court for a variety of orders with regard to a family under investigation. The court may give child protection authorities supervisory powers over the family, including unannounced "spot visits" to the family home, the power to interview children on demand or in the absence of a parent, and the power to require a suspect parent to attend one or more counseling programs. As well, the authorities may seek an order restraining a parent from being alone with the child, or having any direct contact with the child, or returning to the family home. It may make recommendations to the court regarding parental access to, and alternative placement of, the child. Finally, the child protection agency may seek an order for wardship of the child.

The powers of government authorities in child protection proceedings are manifold compared to those of the parent. The state, with all of its personnel and money, is pitted directly against the parent. Yet the procedural safeguards are minimal. The cases indicate that even though protection authorities exercise quasi-judicial powers, the standard of proof in child protection proceedings is, at best, based on a balance of probabilities.17 Under provincial law, all that authorities require before initiating an intrusive investigation of a family is one complaint by an anonymous third party. Under provincial legislation, a child may be apprehended if the social worker decides they fit within the catch-all term a "child in need of protection". Although this term is well defined by the legislation, unclear procedural and evidentiary standards often mean that state interference in the family is based on assumptions rather than facts, leaving a disquieting margin for error.18 The powers of social workers might be necessary, but it is imperative that these powers expressly require not only justification and responsibility but procedural safeguards as well.

The following cases illustrate the tragic impact this can have on a family. Until February, 1995, Charles and Sandra Butler home-schooled their children, ages eleven, eight and five.19 According to Newfoundland law, parents are allowed to home-educate their children as long as the curriculum they use is accredited by the district school board. The Butlers followed a home-school curriculum developed by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, one that the school board had refused to accredit. The family had no past history of neglect or abuse.

In February 1995, the Department of Social Services decided that the Butler children were in need of protection as contemplated by the province's Child Welfare Act on the ground that the Butlers had neglected to provide adequately for the education of their children. However, within hours of apprehending the children, the Butlers realized that their five-year-old was not required by law to begin school until September; therefore, the grounds for apprehension could not rightly apply to her. Not wanting to release any of the children without further investigation, Social Services reapplied to the court to amend the application. Four days after the initial apprehension, Mr. Justice Handrigan granted Social Services four months temporary custody of the children based on an expanded list of grounds. These included, not only concerns about the education of the children, but also concerns about the children's health and medical care, the possibility of physical and / or mental abuse of the children and the religious zealotry and fervor of the parents.

The Butlers retained counsel and appealed the order on several grounds: that the judge applied an improper standard of proof, that he relied on inadmissible evidence and hearsay, and that the hearing violated the principles of fundamental justice in that the appellants were unrepresented, were not properly informed of the nature of the hearing, and were not given an opportunity to call evidence.20 On appeal, Dunn J. reviewed the evidence that the trial judge had relied on:

[The Butlers] are adherents to a breakaway sect of the Seventh Day. Adventist Church. They associate with people of like religious views and practice a lifestyle which may be regarded, by some, as out of the norm. They are vegetarians and follow a strict dietary regime. The children are permitted two meals a day. They are not allowed liquids with their meals or for one hour prior to and one hour after same. The children have not been immunized as recommended by the Department of Health, Newfoundland. Instilling certain religious beliefs in reference to the Bible is fundamental to the lifestyle of the appellants. For example, they believe that the end of the world is fast approaching and are teaching their children to expect and prepare for same.

In December 1995, the court granted the Butler's appeal and ordered that the children be immediately returned to their parents. In her conclusions, Dunn J. found that the Butler's parental rights under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights had been violated. She concluded that the children's academic abilities seemed normal for their age, they appeared well-adjusted, were physically healthy, were rarely sick and that there was absolutely no evidence that the parents physically or mentally abused the children. In response to the Butler's claims of fundamental and procedural injustice, Dunn J. stated:

Where parental rights to custody of children and the possible deprivation of such custody are at issue, proper procedure and reasonable notice are essential to the process. The application was not conducted in a manner in keeping with the principles of fundamental justice and on this basis alone I would have been prepared to grant the appeal.21

Although the Butler children were eventually returned to their parents, they had spent more than six months in foster care. The devastating results that this has had, and will continue to have, on the family and on their relationship to their community cannot be underestimated.

The Butler's case is not isolated. Similar incidents are occurring across Canada. In June 1995, for example, a Nanaimo couple's three children were apprehended by Social Services on grounds later described by an attending psychiatrist as diagnostic speculations. The event occurred after Terry and Lisa Neave's two-year-old daughter, Karianna, was transferred from Nanaimo General Hospital to B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver for testing and treatment of a choking disorder. One day before the transfer, the Nanaimo pediatrician taught Mrs. Neave a jaw-thrust manoeuvre that would clear her daughter's airway when she was choking. This manoeuvre involved raising the child's jaw with a hand at her neck.

At Children's Hospital, Lisa and Karianna Neave were assigned to a double room, which they shared with another mother and her sick child. The mother observed Mrs. Neave perform the manoeuvre during Karianna's choking episodes, suspected that this was abuse and reported her suspicions to hospital authorities. Soon after, the head of the hospital's child protection unit (C.P.U.), together with a social worker, questioned Lisa Neave, at which time she explained her doctor's instructions.

The C.P.U. director did not contact the Neave's pediatrician or family doctor because, as she later told the court, it was not her responsibility to do a thorough investigation. She diagnosed Mrs. Neave as having Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (M.P.S.), an unusual form of child abuse in which a parent fabricates an illness for their child and allows multiple unnecessary investigations and treatments. The next day, social services apprehended all three of the Neave's children. Later, in family court, the judge accepted the social worker's recommendation that Mrs. Neave was high-risk and that the children should be temporarily placed with their grandparents. The order allowed Mrs. Neave to visit her children under supervision, but she could not be alone with them.

The only evidence before the court was the C.P.U. director's diagnosis and an affidavit by Mrs. Neave's cousin, a social worker, who stated that Mrs. Neave was "emotionally troubled and a good person struggling with huge problems...who may very well be crying out for help in the only way she knew how." At trial, the cousin conceded that he had never seen Mrs. Neave do anything in his presence that could be misconstrued as abuse. In fact, no one had ever seen Mrs. Neave abuse her children. In the meantime, the Neave's family doctor andpediatrician tried to contact the acting social worker but reported that their calls were not returned.

In December, the children were allowed to come home, with Mr. Neave acting as supervisor over his wife. In January, the results of a court-ordered psychiatric assessment of Mrs. Neave concluded that Mrs. Neave's only psychological problem was caused by the apprehension of her children and by an R.C.M.P. interrogation shortly thereafter. In February, the Ministry of Social Services applied to the court to have all orders against Mrs. Neave set aside. At the time the orders were set aside, the Neave children had lived away from home for five months and the Neave's legal bills exceeded $10,000.

As these cases illustrate, the margin for error in Canada's child protection laws place families in a vulnerable position. This is not to say that the state has no role in protecting children. Society has a vested interest in ensuring that a child's best interests are served. There are times when the state's power to intervene in cases of genuine physical or sexual abuse or neglect are crucial. A parents rights do not trump the rights of their child. Neither are the two necessarily opposed. The rights of the child must be paramount. However, where the parent and the state disagree on the child's best interests, the law must begin with the presumption that the parent, and not the state, is right. Beginning at this point places the onus on the state to rebut the presumption according to the principles of fundamental justice.

For example, when a parent administers corporal discipline in a manner that a child-protection worker decides is abusive, but which the parent believes is appropriate in the circumstances, it should be presumed that the parent is in the best position to assess the situation and act with the child's best interests in mind. In Ogg-Moss v. R (1983), 41 C.R. 297 (S.C.C.), the Supreme Court concluded that if corporal discipline was administered reasonably, and was intended for the benefit and education of the child, this constitutes legitimate discipline falling within Section 43 of the Criminal Code. A chronological study of the case law suggests that the risk of successfully invoking Section 43 to justify physical injury to a child is steadily diminishing. Prosecutors and judges are more aware of child abuse and are more responsive to protecting children's rights than were earlier courts. This observation was recently made by one of Canada's leading authorities on family rights, Queen's University law professor Nicholas Bala. In a presentation made to the Consultation on Section 43 of the Criminal Code, Professor Bala stated that:

The law and its application has clearly changed in the last two or three years. Court decisions interpreting Section 43 are moving away from tolerating the levels of physical injury to children cited from earlier years. While there are differences between judges and even between the courts of appeal of the different provinces, positive change may best come about through the development of case law to reflect changing attitudes toward the acceptance of severe corporal punishment of children.22

It then becomes incumbent on the child protection worker to rebut the presumption with evidence that is directly probative of the ultimate question, is this child in need of protection as contemplated by the legislation? Speculative allegations would not in and of themselves be sufficiently probative to justify apprehension.

Placing family autonomy and parental rights squarely within Section 7 of the Charter of Rights would be a significant step toward ensuring a more equitable child-protection system. Deference to parental rights would not detract from the rights of the child; it would protect the child against the trauma that accompanies wrongful apprehension and temporary placement away from home and family. In addition, it would provide some protection to parents against the formidable powers of the state, which are sometimes exercised in ways that do not comply with the principles of natural justice.

In December 1994, for example, the Children's Aid Society (C.A.S) began to investigate an Ontario family after someone in the change room of a local swimming pool noticed a bruise on the boy's bottom. A C.A.S worker requested that she be allowed to come into the family home and examine the child. The parents refused, insisting instead that they would have their family doctor examine the child as quickly as possible and submit a report to the C.A.S. The doctor s report indicated that there was a transient bruise on the boy's bottom. The father readily admitted to the C.A.S. worker that he had spanked his son after the boy kicked the family cat and then refused to go to his room. The father explained that he had carried his son, kicking and screaming, to the boy's bedroom, where he proceeded to smack the boy's bottom with a belt. The father acknowledged that the spanking in question was excessive and that bruising a child was not within the purview of reasonable corporal discipline. However, he maintained that this was an isolated incident, unlikely to recur.23

The C.A.S. tried to have the couple sign a contract agreeing to refrain from using corporal punishment to discipline their children. The couple had six children between one and nine years of age. This was the first allegation of abuse against either parent. The couple refused, stating that they believed corporal punishment was an appropriate form of discipline reserved for instances of blatant disobedience or defiance. They retained a lawyer and attempted to negotiate with the C.A.S. The next day, with no advance warning to the father, two police officers arrested him at his place of work. In the presence of his co-workers, the father was charged with assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon. He was handcuffed and taken into custody pending a bail hearing.

In May 1995, six months and eight court appearances after the father was charged, the Crown, without explanation, asked the court to stay the proceedings. By this time, the family had incurred approximately $8,000 in legal fees and much emotional stress. As a result of the ordeal, the husband believed his opportunities for advancement with his employer had been seriously undermined.

This case, like Butler and Neave, raises questions about fundamental justice and procedural fairness in child-protection cases. Much of what occurred would not have, if family autonomy and parental rights were clearly understood to be within the scope of Section 7 of the Charter.

The theoretical and functional chaos that characterizes much of Canada's child-rights policies is due in large part to Parliament's failure to ensure that the Charter of Rights expressly protects family autonomy and parental rights. In order to reintroduce the contextual purpose into child-rights theory, policy-makers must recognize again that protecting family autonomy is foundational to ensuring the best interests of the child.

Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada took steps to initiate the recognition of family autonomy by importing American jurisprudence that supports the inclusion of both parental rights and family autonomy as protected liberties within the meaning of Section 7 of the Charter.
What is Family Autonomy?

In 1982, the Utah Supreme Court provided that family autonomy should be among the primary objectives of the state:

The parental liberty right at fundamental to the existence of the institution of the family...Recognition of the due process and retained right of parents promotes values [that are] essential to the preservation of human freedom and dignity and to the perpetuation of our democratic society. The family is the principal conservator and transmitter of cherished values and traditions . . . Any invasion of the sanctity of the family, even with the loftiest motives, unavoidably threatens those traditions and values.24

Family autonomy is recognized and protected in several international human-rights documents of which Canada is a signatory. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides:

Art. 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence.... Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference.25

Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides:

Art. 23.1 The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.26

As referred to earlier, the Canadian Bill of Rights states in its preamble:

The Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person and the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions.27

In addition, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states in its preamble:

Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities in the community.28

The pro-family provisions of these documents reflect an age-old philosophical tradition that it is in the public interest to support and protect the family. This tradition has developed out of the commonly-held belief of societies throughout history that the family is the principal social institution, uniquely equipped to carry out various functions that advance the public interest (including care for the physical, economic and relational needs of its members) with minimal reliance on the state.29

Today, child-rights advocates argue against using the traditional concept of family. They want to change what they consider as blatant inequalities and injustices within the traditional family structure. It is increasingly common for child-rights groups to call on the state to invoke its parens patriae jurisdiction in order to remedy these injustices.30

Events of the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, held recently in Beijing, illustrate this ideology in action on an international level. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defined the family as "the natural and fundamental group unit of society...entitled to protection by society and the state." Contrast that statement with the dismissive mention of the family in the conference's Platform for Action: "In many cases, violence against women and girls occurs in the family or in the home...violence against women throughout the life cycle derives essentially from cultural patterns, in particular the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices. . ."

This statement would be fine if it were clear that traditional and customary practices referred to such things as genital mutilation, female infanticide, and child marriage. When read within the context of the Platform for Action though, this statement has a wider application which includes the traditional family structure. Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and leader of the Vatican delegation to the Beijing Conference, made the following observations about the treatment of the family and the role of the parent in the Platform for Action, "The documents barely mention marriage, motherhood, and the family - except negatively as impediments to women's self actualization (and as associated with violence and oppression)."31

Professor Glendon also noted that a coalition of countries, including Canada, opposed any affirmation of parental rights. "Though the Beijing documents had identified the situation of the 'girl child' as a 'critical area', the coalition attempted to eliminate all recognition of parental rights and duties from the draft.... They seemed indifferent to the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent human rights documents have consistently protected the parent-child relationship from outside intrusion."32
Conclusion: Extending Charter Protection to the Family

In January 1995, in R (B.) v. Metro Toronto Children's Aid Society, the Supreme Court of Canada undertook an in-depth analysis of the liberty right referred to in Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and its application to family autonomy and parental rights. In this case, the appellants, Jehovah's Witnesses, declined to allow their infant daughter to receive blood transfusions which the attending medical doctors believed necessary to preserve the child's life. Responding to their refusal, the C.A.S. secured an order for temporary wardship of the child and authorized the hospital to perform the transfusions. Authorities returned the infant to her parents once the transfusions were complete. The appellants challenged the Ontario Child Welfare Act, arguing that its power to force temporary wardship of their child, based only on their refusal to consent to a blood transfusion, infringed the appellants' right to choose medical treatment for their infant, contrary to Section 7 of the Charter of Rights.

Although the Supreme Court of Canada rightly rejected the appeal on the ground that the child's right to life will always supersede the parent's right to make medical decisions for the child, this case is extremely significant for what it says about parental rights and family autonomy. The court considered "instructive" a series of court decisions defining the relationship between family autonomy and liberty in the American Bill of Rights. The court followed the reasoning in these cases to conclude that the liberty right in Section 7 of the Charter includes the right of individuals to pursue family life free from undue interference by the state. The court concluded that the individual's right to pursue family life included the right of parents to make decisions on matters that affect their children. Writing for Gonthier, McLachlin, L'Heureux-Dube, JJ. and himself, Mr. Justice LaForest made the following statement:

...the American experience can give us valuable guidance as to the proper meaning and limits of liberty. The United States Supreme Court has given a liberal interpretation to the concept of liberty, as it relates to family matters. It has elevated both the notion of the integrity of the family unit and that of parental rights to the status of constitutional values through its interpretation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.... Although [in Canada the parents'] liberty interest is not a parental right tantamount to a right of property in children, our society is far from having repudiated the privileged role parents exercise in the upbringing of their children. This role translates into a protected sphere of parental decision-making which is rooted in the presumption that parents should make important decisions affecting their children because parents are more likely to appreciate the best interests of their children and because the state is ill-equipped to make such decisions itself.

...I would have thought it plain that the right to nurture a child, to care for its development, and to make decisions for it in fundamental matters such as medical care, are part of the liberty interest of a parent. We must accept that parents can, at times, make decisions contrary to their children's wishes -- and rights -- as long as they do not exceed the threshold dictated by public policy, in its broadest context.33

In conclusion, the chaos that characterizes child-rights law reform can be remedied only by substantive and procedural recognition of the value of the family and the importance of its autonomy within society. This requires recognition that the present direction of child-rights law is in some respects unbalanced and thus corrosive of the importance of the family in society. The way to affirm its importance would be to, once again, give it explicit recognition within the Canadian constitution. This would be best achieved by an amendment to the Charter of Rights to include the family, and continued development of case law built on the Supreme Court of Canada's judgement in R.(B.). The former could be done in tandem with provincial measures to affirm the importance of the family in provincial human-rights legislation or in separate legislation for that purpose. Amendment of the Federal Human Rights Act could be important to clarify Justice Minister Rock's assurances that the recent inclusion of "sexual orientation" as an enumerated ground for the purpose of protection from discrimination was not intended to indicate any alteration to definitions of "spouse" or "family" for matters under federal jurisdiction (this would be in line with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Egan v. Canada).34

By extending Charter protection to parental rights and family autonomy, the Supreme Court of Canada has laid a foundation for renewing the constitutional status of the family. It is significant that in Butler and Butler, the Newfoundland Supreme Court relied on the majority judgement in R. (B.), and quoted the words of Mr. Justice LaForest as authority for the protection of parental rights within Section 7 of the Charter of Rights. At best, this renewed recognition of the family could restore a much-needed balance to the administrative and judicial policies of the state on matters relating to the parent-child relationship.

1. Re J.P., 648 P. 2d 1364 at 1375-76 (Utah 1982). Quoted in Family Law and the 'Liberty Interest': Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights, Nicholas Bala and J. Douglas Redfearn, 15 Ottawa L. Review 274.
2. I use the term "post-modern human rights" to distinguish the present objectives of human-rights initiatives from those of 1948. According to the United Nation's 50th anniversary report, Our Global Neighborhood, the post-war objective was to develop an international community to foster commonality on economic and social matters. The guiding principles were general and included a respect for life, a sense of liberty, justice, equity, and integrity, and a commitment to mutual caring. This contrasts with post-modern human rights theory in which the focus is on protecting individual autonomy and eliminating perceived inequalities between social groups.
3. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Can. T.S. 1992 No. 3 Art. 1-54.
4. This document is available free of charge upon request from the Human Rights Directorate, Department of Canadian Heritage, Ottawa.
5. Children's Rights as Communication: "Reflections on Autopoietic Theory and the United Nations Convention," The Modern Law Review, 1994, Vol. 54, at 385.
6. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Can. T.S. 1992 No. 3, Art. 1 - 54.
7. Article 19 has been interpreted by the U.N. Convention Review Committee to include freedom from reasonable corporal discipline by a parent for the purpose of correction. In its report, entitled Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Canada, June 19, 1995, available from Heritage Canada, the Committee criticizes Canada for failing to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code, the section that allows parents to use corporal discipline reasonable in the circumstances to correct their children. In this document, the Committee specifically recommends that Canada prohibit all corporal discipline of children. Lobby groups within Canada, including the Canadian Coalition on the Rights of the Child and the Repeal 43 Committee, have relied on the Committee's recommendation to argue that the government is obliged to repeal Section 43 in order to fulfill its commitments under the Convention. In fact, neither the Convention nor the Committee's recommendations have legal force in Canadian law. However, they have added considerable political and persuasive weight to the arguments of no-spank lobbyists.
8. Iain Benson, "The Meaning of Renewal," Centrepoints, September 1995, Vol.1 No.2, p. 1.
9. Indexed as R. v. M. (C.), 23 O.R. (3d) at 629.
10. Halm v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) 27 C.R.R. (2d) 23.
11. Ibid.
12. Halm v. Canada, p. 32.
13. Ibid., p. 33.
14. R. v. Roy (C.Q.) [1995] R.J.Q. 282. This case contains a careful analysis of the law, and it comes to the conclusion that Section 159 does not violate the Charter.
15. Convention on the Rights of the Child: First Report of Canada, May, 1994, Human Rights Directorate, Department of Canadian Heritage, Ottawa.
16. Ibid., p. 5.
17. Some academics recommend that the evidence against a parent be "clear and convincing," a degree higher than a mere balance of probabilities, but not as strict as the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. See "Family Law and the Liberty Interest: Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights", Nicholas Bala and J. Douglas Redfearn, 15 Ottawa Law Review 274.
18. For further analysis of potential parental rights violations under provincial child-protection legislation, see "A Family Law Hitchhiker's Guide to the Charter Galaxy," D.A. Rollie Thompson, [1989], 3 C.F.L.Q. 314, 327-339.
19. The Director of Child Welfare v. Butler and Butler, Provincial Court of Newfoundland, Family Division, March 23, 1995, File No. 015, unreported. Appeal decision, Butler and Butler v. The Director of Child Welfare, Supreme Court of Newfoundland, Trial Division, December 15, 1995. File # G.B. No. 46, unreported.
20. Butler and Butler v. The Director of Child Welfare, supra, at 1-2.
21. Ibid., p.27.
22. Final Report -- Consultation on Section 43, 31 March 1994: An Examination of Physical Interventions with Children Summary Paper, p.6, presented by The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child to the Children's Bureau, March 31, 1994.
23. R v. Joseph Cleary, Ontario Court, Provincial Division, December 15, 1994. 24. Supra, see note 1.
24. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly , Resolution 217A (111), 10th December, 1948
25. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, U.N. General Assembly, Resolutions, reported in 21 C.A.O.R. Supp. 16, U.N. Document A/6316 (1966).
26. The Canadian Bill of Rights, 8-9 Elizabeth II, c. 44 (Canada), assented to 10th August, 1960.
27. supra, see note 6.
28. There is a wealth of scholarly research to support the primacy of the family throughout history. For instance, Max Rheinstein, the comparative law scholar from the University of Chicago, in an article in The International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law describes the family as "pre-legal," noting that, for most of history, the state existed not as an aggregate of individuals, but of "family clans" or "houses."
29. Parens patriae, translated into English means "the state is the parent of society." However, child-rights groups advocating greater state control of the family stretch the doctrine of parens patriae beyond what the jurisprudence can support. In Hepton v Matt, [1957] S.C.R. 606 at 607-08, Mr. Justice Rand made clear that parens patriae was never intended or used to justify the broad regulation of family life by the state. The kind of state authority that child-rights advocates promote more accurately describes what some academics have termed the therapeutic state. The therapeutic state refers to a government structure in which the casework method of social philanthropy is linked to the coercive power of the state, with the result that "there are no rights except those of individuals and the state." See Mary Ann Glendon, The Transformation of Family Law, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.
30. What Happened at Beijing, Mary Ann Glendon, First Things, January 1996, Number 59, p. 31.
31. Ibid., p. 32. The coalition referred to included the fifteen-member European Union, Barbados, Canada, Namibia, and South Africa.
32. R (B.) v. Metro Toronto Children's Aid Society et al., 1995 1 S.C.R. 315.
33. Egan et al v. Canada (1995), 124 D. L. R. 609 (S.C.C.).

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Anonymous said...

love the take by the SW on what was said ,when the other SW took a picture of the baby and handed it to the mom, was she there? I have heard far worse and its on tape, listen to Canada Court watch and dufferin voca, social workers say and do very mean things, and then state its the upset parents blah blah, a women in Ottawa lost her baby because she was diagnosed with MS , they did not even have another issue, it will be in Chatelaine I believe in June. Her husband was and is working, and they have money so are going to Human Rights. Another mom lost her children they said FM, after all the other reasons for the apprehension failed. its on court docs. and Judge Bennet spoke to the press about the case. They tried to make the mom a monster he said, but everything they said including a 200 page report from a team at Mc Masters was full of lies. How and why we all have to wonder when surely they could find real cases of abuse out there.
This is the reason for no oversight, and how horrible cases happen, I wonder if they allow them, as sick as that sounds, to go to the legislation and ask for more money and more power. They have it all now. The US are moving it back as we take this step, why cant learn from the terrible tragic out comes of this type of bill in the US.

Anonymous said...

The fifth estate will air Wed. April 12@10pm

Anonymous said...

I hadn't read the latest comments until now. Many of these stories are heart-breaking. CAS and the entire child-welfare system is a disgrace of unimaginable proportions, far beyond anything that can be reformed. The system has to be scrapped and those who have abused their positions prohibited from ever working with children again.

Anonymous said...


The person that said this is quite right. In the past younger children and babies were marketed - in cases of domestic violence ONLY the baby was taken. The "help" that the CAS offered was taking a child from a mother and farming them out to anyone, anywhere no questions asked - leaving the mother and family to rot. The younger the more marketable to their clients who are NOT CHILDREN AND NEVER WERE.

Anonymous said...

I read the interview about Andre Marin - he is a real Ombudsman, he is a real, dedicated person - not an idiot in a role to retire with money but a person that is dedicated to changing several systems in Ontario. It is nice to see someone who cares.

Anonymous said...

I think all of these points are why we should have crisis nursery's. Why is it that foster parents have respite but natural ones do not? CAS has volunteers that drive foster kids to appointments if the foster family can't or doesn't want to; volunteers to take the kids for lengths of time to give the foster family 'a break', etc., etc!!

I've never heard of a baby being born with an instruction manual; the best teacher is experience. What a wonderful idea for experienced mom's to help and teach new ones who may not have access to maternal relatives. My mom, after the four of us went to school, would go to homes and hang out with the new mom's showing them how to play with their young children, taught them how to cook, give baths, and just listened to the women. My mom loved it and said that these women thrived with knowledge of how to properly care for their children. Why don't we have THAT? I'd volunteer to help new mothers!

It shouldn't be scary to ask for help, the stresses (financial, relationships, self worth and confidence) are already there when people need a hand!

AMANDA WELL SAID. I am glad that you had loving parents to raise you. That you did a memorial to Jeffrey a sweet, innocent, precious little boy as a loving mother of another little boy speaks volumes. A crisis nursery is a great idea, that should be implemented across Canada. A mentor program to help mothers is another fantastic idea, and also we need to help fathers as well.

You are a good person Amanda, the world needs more of you.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Amanda your post is very perceptive. You covered a lot of ground in just a few words - the system is as backwards as it gets.

Anonymous said...

No you cannot phone The Fifth Estate like CHTV. Your comments can probably be emailed to CBC.

This is a documentary not a small town production like CHTV put on. Their main interest is drawing viewrs--CBC already has them.

Anonymous said...

With respect to the foster father article and that he molested kids - he too could have been allowed to adopt them and to be a "forever family" to them. After all to these stupid agencies "adoption" and foster care is "safer".

Bill 210 will let more children be adopted by those who have fostered them into "forever families" for infertile couples that wish to "build" their families by taking other people's children.

They are going to market them and ship them out over the Internet along with a baby broker and a mob of infertile couples.

It will be the CAS agencies including the CCAS responsible for Jeffrey that will screen the strangers to be "forever families".

It is ridiculous.