Legal system slammed for failing families

Scales of justice - gavel justice scales

Legal system slammed for failing families

Kirk Makin — Justice Reporter

From Friday’s Globe and Mail

At one of the most stressful periods of their lives, separating couples are driven to the poorhouse by a family law system that fails to deliver workable solutions while their children are often hurt by a system that doesn’t take their opinions into account, a report by the Law Commission of Ontario says.

In one of the most in-depth looks at what ails family law in many years, the report indicts the system for draining parents’ bank accounts, ignoring expert advice in favour of simplistic solutions and leaving children out of the process.

The report, which was based on interviews with roughly 100 social workers, lawyers, judges, counsellors and individuals caught up in the machinery of family law, also proposes a series of solutions, including more money for low-income litigants.

While battling an ex-partner in court can be costly – cases that go to trial can ding the participants for well over $100,000 – the report’s authors said there is substantial concern judges cannot or will not step in to stop overly litigious spouses from wearing down an ex-partner through “legal bullying.”

What’s more, many parents who tried to access legal aid funding ultimately gave up because they felt ignored or rejected by “unfriendly” staff.

Many social workers and mental-health professionals also complained that lawyers and judges often paid little attention to their findings, sticking instead to more simplistic concepts. For example, judges often hold to the idea that equal parenting is always best when in some cases it isn’t, it said.

Some of these professionals were amazed that governments license drivers, but do not take steps to educate people before they blunder into marriage.

Even individuals who want information about their marital obligations are “immensely” nervous and embarrassed about seeking it out, the report said.

“Many people find it ‘suspicious’ that someone would want to get legal information at an early stage of a relationship and would prefer not seeking it for fear of being perceived as not trusting their intimate partner,” it said. “Most people are afraid that these conversations would destroy their relationship.”

The report also found widespread skepticism of mandatory mediation, partly because mediators are poorly regulated and often untrained, and partly because the process that only works when both participants are voluntarily committed to it.

The report found children felt the costly process was draining their parents’ money and that courts had little interest in their opinions.

“Children want to be heard but they feel they have no voice and no power in relation to adults, including their parents, lawyers, counsellors and judges,” it said.

At home, the report said children often feel obligated to “parent” an emotionally needy mother or father at the same time as they nervously watch family finances dwindle away.

Stan Barron, a father who has spent 14 years and over $200,000 fighting with his ex-wife over custody of their children, said money was his overriding problem. Besides the burden of high legal fees, Mr. Barron said litigants must be prepared to match their ex-spouses expert for expert when it comes to mounting a case.

“It has bankrupted me,” said Mr. Barron, whose sons are now 16 and 19.

He also observed that different judges are repeatedly parachuted into long-running cases. “It would be a massive improvement to have one judge follow a case from start to finish,” Mr. Barron said. “I was shocked when I started this process. You have to reinvent the wheel every time.”

The report details a number of solutions to the problems, many of which deal with making it easier for people to afford the high cost of litigation. Among the suggestions included in the report are more flexible payment systems to allow people to pay their fees incrementally and a sliding scale to make legal services more affordable for low-income people.

It also suggests ways to better co-ordinate services for those with family problems, such as police and women’s shelters, suggesting that some services should team up to share space and that case workers should communicate more.

With a report from Adrian Morrow


Tiananmen Square in Canada!

A demonstrator is taken into custody after a protest atop the roof of NDP Leader Jack Layton’s Toronto office on Friday, August 8, 2008.
A demonstrator is taken into custody after a protest atop the roof of NDP Leader Jack Layton’s Toronto office on Friday, August 8, 2008.
A demonstrator, dressed as the superhero Plywood Man is seen with police on the roof of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton's Toronto office on Friday, Aug. 8, 2008.
A demonstrator dressed as ‘Plywood Man’ is seen with police on the roof of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton’s Toronto office on Friday, Aug. 8, 2008.

Charges laid after ‘superheroes’ climb NDP office roof

Police have laid trespassing charges after protesters dressed as superheroes dropped a banner from the roof of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton’s Toronto office on Friday.

The demonstrators, one dressed as Spider-Man and the other as Plywood Man, said they were protesting for family law reform for fathers in custody disputes.

The incident at 221 Broadview Ave., near Dundas Street, was organized by Fathers 4 Justice.

Heavily armed Emergency Task Force officers responded to the incident and evacuated employees from the building as a precaution.

The man dressed as Spider-Man had planned to rappel down from the roof, but later surrendered to police.

However, Plywood Man refused to turn himself in. Officers used some kind of explosive device as a distraction and then moved in and made the arrest.

The men face charges of trespassing, mischief and vandalism. The protest tied up police for hours.

Layton, who wasn’t in the office, said he doesn’t know much about the group or why his office was targeted.

“It really just came out of the blue,” Layton told CTV Newsnet.

For more info on this story Click Here:

CTV News

An email from the group.

To follow tomorrow is a heartwarming note from Spiderman and another activists account/edited.
  1. At approximately 6AM members of F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada commandeered the rooftop of NDP Leader Jack Laytons constituency office located at 221 Broadview Avenue, Toronto, ON. With them were supplies to last for several days. Included in these supplies were food, change of clothes, shelter and a home made toilet consisting of a bucket and a pool ring.
  2. Two activists, Plywoodman and Spiderman remained on the rooftop for several hours out of sight and set up their lawnchairs to have a good rest and chat before the sh*t hit the fan.
  3. While waiting for their signal to initiate, the heros were seen by an onlooker having his morning cigarette on his balcony. No action was taken by any individuals at this time.
  4. At approximately 9:40AM the two heroes put their banner over the rooftop reading NDads Party.
  5. The Supersonic Plymobile was stationed out front for added visual effect.
  6. At approximately 10:00AM the owner of the building arrived and told them to leave. He confronted the heros on the roof and told them to just jump. He also threw a bunch of their belongings about and returned to threaten them throughout.
  7. By approximately 10:30AM 680 news had arrived on scene and began broadcasting live from the scene every 20 mins.
  8. Shortly after 10:30AM the police arrived. Police were told this was a non-violent direct action being organized by F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada. 
  9. At approx. 12:00PM the police were seen going to the rooftop with Tasers
  10. A firetruck was called and arrived on the scene.
  11. At approximately 12:30PM additional officers arrived and began cordoning off the street up to 4 blocks in total.
  12. ETF officers arrive on the scene.
  13. A negotiator arrives on the scene.
  14. At aproximately 12:50 PM a member of F4J was arrested on the ground. 
  15. Another F4J Fathers 4 Justice representative arrives shortly thereafter to assess the scene and continue interviews and sending updates back to HO.
  16. The report is that heavily armed ETF officers are on scene. A police negotiator is on scene. A psychiatrist is on scene. A hydro truck is one scene. A firetruck is on scene. There are approximately 80-100 onlookers, some chanting, ” Let them see their kids!”
  17. Despite news reports that the constituency office had been evacuated, one of Jack Layton’s aids comes out to the back alley and has a cigarette with one of our supporters on the scene at approximately 2:00PM
  18. Other reports indicate that their were other staffers inside the Layton office who verified they knew of our organization and what our cause and issues were.
  19. At approximately 3:00PM Spiderman is brought down from the building on the understanding they will release him when his buddy on the roof comes down. He recounts being told by the police on the rooftop that they were going to be shot. He recounts that Plywoodman is in control, not as reported, and did a great job remaining calm while negotiating with the ETF. He also reports that the onsite psychiatrist has stated Plywoodman is indeed sane and not a threat to jump. ** global News  report says he was down at 2:34   pm … but he also did not show up at police station until 5:30’ish

  1. Spiderman is held inside the Layton office for two hours while negotiations continue with Plywoodman on the roof. They keep asking him how they got up there. He tells them he is Spiderman. He is told by police they are going to shoot his buddy.
  2. At approximately 3:30PM Kris Titus, National Coordinator for F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada calls the 55 Division and speaks to the Sergeant on duty. She identifies herself and tells them she has been briefed on the situation they are dealing with. She asks if it would be helpful for her to attend the scene and assist the negotiators. The Sergeant says yes, that may be helpful, when you get there speak to Sergeant Walsh or Sergeant McGregor.
  3. Reports are that the officers on the scene were informed that the National Coordinator was on her way and what the purpose was.
  4. At approximately 5:00PM ETF officers deploy 3 flash grenades to distract Plywoodman while a significant contingent ( reports are 6-10 ) of ETF officers tackle him on the rooftop and take him into custody. ** you can see it on the CTV news coverage .. looks like  6 to me on the tackle with 3 -4  more hovering

  1. Kris arrives on the scene at approximately 5:45 and the only remaining individuals are one F4J representative, a traffic officer and tow truck and a 55 Division detective. The Plymobile gets towed to the police impound yard.
  2. At approximately 6:00PM Kris arrives at the police station to ensure
    1. That all three activists have been able to contact and speak to designated legal council
    2. That Plywoodman receives a medical examination as well as the proposed psychiatric assessment ( which he knew ahead of time they may send him for )
    3. What the proposed charges are if they will be released that evening.
  • The officer on duty of course lies and says yes, they have all made their call to council.
  • The officer on duty will not tell Kris anything or go ask permission from the activists to give this information.
  • Kris speaks to legal counsel and updates her on situation. She has only spoken to 1 of our activists, contrary to police officer’s statement. She calls and is told they will not be let out because investigation continues.
  • Kris speak to legal counsel again at 10:00PM and is told they are in for the night and have a bail hearing the next morning.
  • F4J Fathers 4 Justice legal counsel and supporters attend at WRONG courthouse in the morning. Continue on to correct location when information is obtained. Legal counsel is sent to WRONG courtroom and it is only upon further investigation it is learned that the activists are in another courtroom, Plywood man has already been held ( with durty counsel participation ) for psychiatric assessment and other two activists ahve been brought up and taken back down to await their counsel.
  • Police officers monitor groups progress and continually take ‘head count’.
  • Approximately 11:30AM court begins. Crown attorney ‘interrogates’ surety for 20 minutes. Many questions are completely unrelated to the assessment of a person’s ability to act as surety. Steps made by the crown include: 

      1. Trying to prohibit activists from wearing their F4J tshirts claiming they should be treated as ‘colors’ and compares it to Satan’s Choice bike gang. Judge thankfully says, this is a stretch.
      1. Crown makes argument that Mr. Layton has been ‘targeted’.
      2. Crown is able to convince judge to put in bail condition that the two charged activists cannot participate in ANY form of protest.
      3. The crown asks that one bail condition be that they cannot attend at ANY elected officials constituency office ( pronounced CONSTITUTION about 5 times by the Judge! ) without prior written permission.
      4. Activists are to be released on $10,000 bail!
      5. Crown asks both sureties if they feel police over reacted, both said in their opinion YES! Both reiterated it was a peaceful protest.
      6. Crown tries to establish that activist on the ground is ‘ring leader’.
    1. Ground support and Spiderman are released, both have since been told to remain quiet about events until they have been properly briefed by legal council.
    2. Plywoodman remains in custody and will hopefully be released Monday morning.
    3. Return date for first appearance for first two released is Friday, August 15th @ 10:00AM
    4. Other attorney approaches us outside courtroom and is expressing his ANGER at what was allowed to happen in the courtroom. Subsequently two more lawyers express their anger and dismay.
    5. Fathers 4 Justice UK member climbs judges house in England!

    Next steps

    An open letter is being issued to Mr. Layton to answer on the issue of equal parenting and to assess if there is any change in support for M483. To be sent Monday AM.

    Any constituents of Jack Layton please contact us to be included in this meeting should it occur.

    If no response or insufficient response received by Thursday, August 14th in the PM a peaceful street level protest will be staged at 221 Broadview Avenue after the first appearance of the F4J Fathers 4 Justice superheros and support.

    F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada will be making official complaint about police conduct and charter violations so as to protect our activists from such extreme measures. Please know that despite the measures used by police, F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada activists have NO INTENTION of stopping their current campaign and course of action. ( We do note that not all officers were hostile or aggressive! )

    We will defend our right to peaceful protest and non-violent direct action.

    Any questions please direct them specifically to myself

    Kris Titus – National Coordinator, F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada,

    Hal Legere – Legal Director – F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada,

    Rob Robinson – National Action Coordinator, F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada.

    We are greatly appreciative of all the support our activists have received.

    The ratio of congrats to complains is approx 10:1.

    Most sincerely;

    Kris Titus

    FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS OF THE The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms







    “Your Guide to the The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

    Get your copy by calling       1 819 994 3458

    Connie Brauer, activist

  • __,_.

    If you are not part of the solution, you are the problem.


    Be a part of the solution!
    Sign the petition for Family Law Reform in Canada!
    Your kids could be next!
    One or both spouses will be denied all legal decision making in your child’s life, for the rest of your life.
    Make no mistake!
    We are at war with the Canadian Government for child abuse!
    Click Here, Now!

    Online petition – Stop Judicial Abuse in the Canada’s Courts

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