Standing committee on Justice and Social Policy
1st session, 37th Parliament | 1re session, 37e législature
Tue 24 Oct 2000 / Mar 24 oct 2000
Tuesday 24 October 2000
Domestic Violence Protection Act, 2000, Bill 88, Mr Flaherty / Loi de 2000 sur la protection contre la violence familiale, projet de loi 88, M. Flaherty
Equal Parents of Canada
Mr Butch Windsor
Alliance of Canadian Second Stage Housing Programs (Ontario Caucus)
Ms Donna Hansen
Ms Joanne Krauser
Human Equality Action and Resource Team
Mr Eric Tarkington
Mr Brian Jenkins
Fathers Are Capable Too--Parenting Association
Mr Peter Cornakovic
Mr Bill Flores
Mr Walter Fox
Mr Gene Colosimo
STANDING COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND SOCIAL POLICY
Chair / Présidente
Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre / -Centre PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex PC)
Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's L)
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph-Wellington PC)
Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa West-Nepean / Ottawa-Ouest-Nepean PC)
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre / -Centre ND)
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan L)
Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre / -Centre PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mrs Marie Bountrogianni (Hamilton Mountain L)
Mr Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Ajax PC)
Mrs Tina R. Molinari (Thornhill PC)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr Tom Prins
Staff / Personnel
Ms Elaine Campbell and Mr Avrum Fenson, research officers,
Research and Information Services
The committee met at 1533 in room 151.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTION ACT, 2000 / LOI DE 2000 SUR LA PROTECTION CONTRE LA VIOLENCE FAMILIALE
Consideration of Bill 117, An Act to better protect victims of domestic violence / Projet de loi 117, Loi visant à mieux protéger les victimes de violence familiale.
The Chair (Ms Marilyn Mushinski): We'll call the meeting to order. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. This is the standing committee on justice and social policy to consider Bill 117, An Act to better protect victims of domestic violence.
Ladies and gentlemen, while members enjoy parliamentary privileges and certain protections pursuant to the Legislative Assembly Act, it is unclear whether or not these privileges and protections extend to witnesses who appear before committees. For example, it may very well be that the testimony that you have given or are about to give could be used against you in a legal proceeding. I would caution you to take this into consideration when making your comments to this committee.
Each delegation has 20 minutes in which they may take the full 20 minutes to make their submission or in which members of committee may want to ask you some questions if there is time left over.
EQUAL PARENTS OF CANADA
The Chair: The first delegation that we have this afternoon is Equal Parents of Canada, Butch Windsor. Good afternoon, Mr Windsor.
Mr Butch Windsor: I'm going to try to stick as close as I can to my notes so that we can keep to the time frame.
Madam Chair, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to present today regarding Bill 117. This legislation has helped organizations such as Equal Parents of Canada to understand the need to constantly be prepared. Bad legislation can arise at any time.
For your information, Equal Parents of Canada is a collection of e-mail lists, but mainly EPOC News, in which we have been working the past five years to coordinate parental equality advocacy. EPOC News is truly national in scope, with about 100 Ontarians participating, and we're growing.
I am a parent who, because of the ugliness of the current divorce laws, has made an investment of my time and skills to help others. My goal is to prevent false allegations, such as those I faced, from materializing in the lives of others. Unfortunately, without government funding, it is difficult to intervene prior to the allegations.
If you, as a committee member, are troubled accepting that false allegations are a big part of the divorce industry, let me use figures that the Ottawa-Carleton Children's Aid Society presented to the House-Senate joint committee when examining the Divorce Act. In 1998, there were 1,600 cases involving allegations of child abuse, 900 of which arose from divorce proceedings. Of these, 600 were false. The use of false allegations of child abuse and spousal abuse is referred to as the ultimate weapon in the divorce industry.
Why do we have such a high rate of false allegations? Power, greed and no consequences are the reasons. As legislators, you should be concerned about how many of these 600 false allegations investigated by the Ottawa-Carleton CAS resulted in charges to the accuser. How many times were children removed from a loving parent as a consequence of the investigation of a false allegation? How many times were the false allegations used in civil proceedings to prevent and oftentimes eliminate a father from the child's life? Who is being responsible for the children's interests to have a loving relationship with both parents? Do you believe this legislation will not create more of the same results?
A lack of respect for people has created general disorder for society. We have become a politically motivated society set on allowing only one view: the politically correct. Legislation such as that proposed here must have an objective and goal. However, we must look to the bigger picture of how society interacts and how we have reached the point of requiring this legislation.
Try to convince me that we are doing our children any favour by forcing them to believe that all men are violent while all women are victims. We are, in the long run, setting the wrong example, one which will lead to a further lack of respect toward others. If our male children grow up with the idea that they cannot better themselves, they quit and become the image that you, as legislators, are presenting with this legislation. Using gender-neutral language does not remove the motivation behind such legislation.
The question I ask is, what is it that the present legislation does not do which this legislation is supposed to do? Using the knowledge and training I have received by chairing my local 54 division police liaison committee here in Toronto, serving on the board of directors for one of Legal Aid Ontario's community legal clinics and participating in conferences and reading literature about the issue of spousal abuse in general, I do not believe the legislation respects people. Bad individuals will break the law no matter what the law prohibits. I want to paint a picture of a society gone wrong. This legislation is aimed at protecting people's feelings. It is not legislation about right or wrong. I would like to take a few minutes to give examples that support my position before returning to this issue of protecting people's feelings.
Ten years ago, when counselling fathers, we had a standard caution. We told them how on a Friday evening when they arrive home from work, the wife will pick an argument with them and call the police so they can be taken away on the claim of abuse. On Monday morning, while they are arranging bail, their partner is in family court taking the house, the children and the bank account. I'm tired of seeing this happen.
Here's why the issue is still front and centre today. A police officer will make an arrest because he's under a directive from the Solicitor General to arrest or face mounds of paperwork to explain why no arrest. When the individual reaches bail hearing, the challenge from the crown attorney will be so great that the person in the next case, charged with shooting up the local convenience store, is more likely to get bail. Crown attorneys do not like queries from the Attorney General's office asking why a particular individual is out on the street. Then the fight actually begins. In the domestic abuse court you are faced with a crowd, including the judge, who believe the police laid the charges because you were abusive, but not necessarily so, and then they use their power to convict you on those grounds. But what were the grounds? "He said; she said." But the conviction is based upon police evidence which, as stated above, is often distorted by directives.
As a side issue and as a way of explaining the above, in March of this year I contacted Toronto Police Services Chief Fantino and asked for a meeting to discuss the new spousal abuse policy which was presented to my community liaison committee. To this date, Mr Fantino has not responded to my request and has not returned my follow-up calls. The policy was developed through public consultations with shelter organizations, transition houses, hospitals representing the female side of the issue, and, as you detected, no male organizations. Being allowed to the table is part of the solution.
This legislation begins with an explanatory note stating that intervention in cases of domestic violence will occur where there is fear for safety. Is this not a "He said; she said" situation? Where is the call for evidence, other than this person's evidence, the one who stands to gain control of the family and the family assets? Should we be relying on the police when they are the targets of directives and political manoeuvring? I believe a recent National Post article about the high rate of violence by police officers toward their spouses or ex-spouses was meant to impact on their ability to work effectively. Would you take the chance that an officer will not make you an example of official police policy toward spousal abuse so that no one suspects him of spousal abuse?
This is a similar situation to that faced by the Senate-House joint committee when they were about to release their report For the Sake of the Children. A newspaper report came out days before the release of the report stating how the rate of domestic violence meant that fathers should not be trusted with their children. Is this truth or fear-mongering?
The final point I wish to make before summarizing my presentation is that it appears in this legislation that there is a continuation of altering the definition of abuse to meet a set goal. I will remind you of a study from Carleton University where females were questioned about past abuse situations and the conclusion was that over 90% of those surveyed had experienced abuse. Abuse included being sworn at, being yelled at. I can't understand why they didn't account for 100% of those interviewed.
The legislation proposed here is similar to that introduced in other jurisdictions. In Massachusetts, civil liberties organizations have challenged the law in court on the grounds of individual civil rights. Has the government examined the case from that perspective, or is it the intention of the government to simply use schoolyard tactics in forcing the little guy to take the matter to court as a charter issue?
I understand that other provinces have similar legislation. What can we learn from them? It has been my experience in dealing with bureaucracy that the only opinion they are interested in in this case is the one that supports their position.
I would recommend the government consider withdrawing this legislation. Further examination of the issue from both sides is required. Overall, I believe passing legislation which relies on a person's belief as a ground for taking away one's rights is social engineering at its worst. To those who hope to be remembered because of the position taken in regard to this legislation, you surely will be remembered, but it will be our children who will ask, "What did you do to our fathers?"
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Windsor. We have about eight minutes for questions.
Mrs Marie Bountrogianni (Hamilton Mountain): Good afternoon. My name is Marie Bountrogianni. I'm the women's issues critic, which is why I'm subbing in today. My colleague is the Attorney General critic. It is our job to criticize what the government is doing, just as it was their job when a long, long time ago we were in government. Sometimes we take these opportunities to criticize not necessarily the bill directly but perhaps other ministries that we feel aren't fulfilling their mandate, which is partly why I'm here. I did that yesterday. The parliamentary assistant rebutted with the money they had spent, and so forth.
Rarely do we get presenters who unite us, but I have to say, sir, that you have made me--and I have said before that I support the intent of this bill. I understand and appreciate the research that you have cited, but the reality is that 44 women were killed in Ontario last year, and this bill is attempting--attempting--to begin to look at that problem. I also have a daughter and a son, and although I don't ever want my son, my husband, my father to be discriminated against, I think it's up to me as a mother/wife/daughter to educate along these issues.
I'm also a psychologist by training, and I have actually counselled girls who have been raped and don't even know they have been raped, to counter your argument about being yelled at as considered abuse. It's a democracy. Your views are taken under advisement, but I'm being very honest with you: I disagree with your premises.
Thank you. No questions.
The Chair: About one minute, Mr Bryant.
Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's): Your research is wrong; your facts are wrong. You are spreading untruths. It's bad enough that the vast majority of Ontarians don't understand that the vast majority of victims of domestic violence do not encounter the criminal justice system. It just makes it worse when these kinds of untruths are being spread around.
This is a democracy. Your arguments have created a dialogue, and I'd just echo my colleague's comments. I would hope that we are united in opposition against your particular viewpoint, sir.
The Chair: Mr Kormos?
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): No, thank you, Chair. Thank you, Mr Windsor.
The Chair: Anyone from the government side?
Thank you for coming this afternoon, Mr Windsor.
ALLIANCE OF CANADIAN SECOND STAGE HOUSING PROGRAMS (ONTARIO CAUCUS)
The Chair: The next speaker is the alliance of second-stage housing, Donna Hansen.
Ms Donna Hansen: Good afternoon, everyone. It's a pleasure to be here. My name is Donna Hansen. I'm the coordinator of the Alliance of Canadian Second Stage Housing Programs, Ontario caucus. I am pleased to introduce to you my colleague Joanne Krauser, who is the program manager of Armagh second-stage housing in Mississauga, and Ms Krauser will begin our presentation.
Ms Joanne Krauser: I'd like to start with a brief history of second-stage housing. Second-stage housing was developed in response to an identified need for long-term safety and support for women and children leaving abusive relationships. Emergency shelter workers witnessed women having to return to abusive partners when leaving shelters because of a serious lack of safe, affordable and supportive housing alternatives in their communities. The lack of affordable housing in the community is more acute today, making the need for second-stage housing for assaulted women more necessary now than at any other time in history.
Approximately 40 women are murdered by their estranged partners each year in Ontario, according to a 1994 study of intimate femicide. The study also shows that women are most often killed after leaving the relationship. The slayings of three of the six women in Ontario this summer prove that point. Gillian Hadley, Pickering, and Bohumila Luft and her four children in Kitchener were living apart from their partners at the time of their murders. Laurie Lynn Vollmershausen, Stratford, had just informed her partner of her intent to leave him when he stabbed her to death while their children ran, screaming in terror, to a neighbour's house, pleading for help for their mother.
The first second-stage housing program in Canada was built in 1979. A 1996 survey by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp shows that safety is the number one reason that women, with or without children, seek housing at second-stage facilities.
Today there are 26 second-stage housing programs operating in Ontario. The facilities range from three units to 40 units, with an approximate total of 370 units. They are typically self-contained apartment, townhouse or single-family units where women can live independently with their children for approximately one year. The length of stay depends on the needs of the woman and the program guidelines. Though second-stage housing programs may vary in size, configuration and management style, the mandate of all programs is to deliver services which contribute to keeping women and their children safe. We need funding from the Ontario government in order to continue to provide efficient and cost-effective programs.
Women often access second-stage housing after leaving women's crisis shelters. Living in second-stage housing provides women the opportunity to rebuild their lives and the lives of their children in a safe, affordable and supportive environment.
Second-stage housing provides a unique service to women and their children. Women living at second-stage housing are usually on a low, fixed income. During their tenancy, women are able to set goals and objectives, connect with appropriate community resources, and are provided the opportunity to build on new skills as they move on to economic independence. Support in most programs is offered through individual and group counselling in order to assist women and children to develop coping strategies, build social networks, to enhance self-esteem, to understand the impact of violence in their lives, and to develop realistic plans for their futures.
Many of the children and youth at second-stage housing have been the targets of physical and sexual violence, and most have been witnesses to the physical, verbal, psychological and sexual abuse of their mothers.
Ms Hansen: We have watched question period and we have heard the opposition members say that they support Bill 117 as far as it goes. We would agree with that statement. More police officers and courts may be necessary and may provide justice and retribution to assaulted women. However, we feel it is necessary to quote Eileen Morrow, who is the coordinator of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, when she says that we would rather protect women than mourn them. Of course, after the fact, police and courts and specially trained crowns are necessary. But to make their workload much lighter, community-based services to the 75% of assaulted women who do not access police or the justice system--shelters, rape crisis centres and second-stage housing--need a sizable, immediate injection of stable, adequate, dependable, annualized funding, funding that will allow these community-based women-centred agencies to be adequately staffed and to be able to provide protection, counselling and other much-needed programming.
Lawmakers and enforcers in Canada are fortunate to have women in every community who are willing to do the hard and often dangerous work of providing safe havens for women and their children who wish to escape from an abusive situation. Workers in second-stage housing programs want to co-operate with the police and the justice system and demand to be seen as equal partners in the struggle to save women's lives. Second-stage housing provides safety for assaulted women at a time in their lives when they are most at risk--when they are making a determined effort to escape their abuser and are determined to end the violence and make every effort to begin a new life free of violence, pain and humiliation.
The demands of the 128 member agencies of the Cross-Sectoral Violence Against Women Strategy Group include a demand for immediate, annualized $3.6 million of government funding for second-stage housing. As well, the critical work of saving women's lives done by all of these 128 women-centred groups demands funding.
The insidious cycle of learned intergenerational violence must be broken. But to break that cycle, all members of society must work together, equally. Partnerships between violence-against-women agencies, community groups, police, and the justice system must be used to develop prevention initiatives and coordinate the services provided to victims of violence. Sadly, the Ministry of Community and Social Services decided, in 1996, to withdraw completely all funding to second-stage housing in Ontario. That funding had supported in-house counselling services. Withdrawal of this funding has disconnected the government body that gives direction to all other violence-against-women service providers from second-stage housing. Therefore, second-stage housing is no longer directly involved in policy development and program planning. We believe that this is unacceptable.
In the four years since Ministry of Community and Social Services funding was withdrawn, all second-stage housing programs have changed. Counselling programs have been carved to the bone. Many second stages are in crisis survival mode. Remaining staff and their boards of directors must concentrate as much on fundraising as on services to women. This, too, is unacceptable.
Today, on behalf of the 26 second-stage housing programs in Ontario--and we have provided you with our most up-to-date mailing list with this package--we are saying: pass Bill 117 if you must, but now, please, finally, listen with open ears and hearts to the 128 women-centred groups in Ontario that are demanding an equal place at the table where decisions are made that affect the most vulnerable women and children in Ontario. Show your respect for these groups by supporting and funding their work. Show your concern for the future of second-stage housing in Ontario by supporting and funding the 26 programs that are dedicated to and are so effective in saving women's lives.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Hansen and Ms Krauser. Mr Kormos, questions? You have about three minutes for each party.
Mr Kormos: Thank you kindly, folks. It's interesting. Yesterday when we began this, I had to refer the committee to one of my constituents who was in my constituency office Friday morning, a woman I've been working with for a couple of years. She's got a Family Court file this thick. We first made contact when she had problems getting the police to enforce the restraining order she had received from the Unified Family Court. Documented: violent husband, bad alcohol and drug problems.
The supervised access centre, Niagara Child Development Centre, won't even supervise the access any more, that's how bad they're saying it is. In any event, he has served papers now upon his ex-wife, trying to relitigate the access, custody, blah, blah. Here we are just before Christmastime. The trial date is set for end of November. This woman had an alarm provided for her from the local committee--Women's Place is part of the committee, but they don't monitor--but they're in limited supply. She had to give it up several months ago because there hadn't been any incidents for a number of months, because we had written to the police chief and the police had started to co-operate with monitoring and being there when she needed them.
She's entering this critical stage. Think about it: before Christmas, all the melancholy and emotions, the prospect of more drinking. The litigation is going to be taking place--I don't want to be overly dramatic, but the woman's a target once again, right? Yet she doesn't have this crummy little emergency alarm because of the scarcity and the limitations that the committee--I'm sure with great difficulty--has to prioritize. If the constituency office has to pay for it out of our budget, we'll pay for one for her.
The government members spoke yesterday about all the enhanced funding that we've witnessed since 1995. Is that true?
Ms Krauser: We haven't been eligible for any of it. Second-stage housing is not eligible because we're not an MCSS transfer agency.
Mr Kormos: Have you suffered cuts?
Ms Hansen: We suffered $2.56 million on the first day of January 1996. That was 100% of the MCSS funding. Because we've lost that funding we are no longer, as Joanne said, a current transfer agency of MCSS, meaning that not one penny of the $10 million comes to second-stage housing.
Mr Kormos: Thank you very much. I appreciate your coming.
The Chair: Government side, Mrs Elliott.
Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph-Wellington): Thank you for coming before us today to present your point of view. From our perspective there are three kinds of housing that are offered to women, indeed to anyone who is experiencing difficulty. There are emergency hostels, there are emergency shelters for abused women and then there is second-stage housing. As you will know, housing has been evolving over the past few years from the federal government to the provincial government. Then under our government, continuing under the NDP initiative of--what did you call it? Not restructuring. You had a name where you were trying to reconfigure some of the programs and share between municipalities and the province.
We continued that work, primarily focusing on restructuring the education taxes so it didn't land on the shoulders of the property owners. In that process of restructuring, the emergency shelters in fact ended up at the municipal level as opposed to the provincial level. So when you say the word "cut" we have a difference of opinion. In fact, what has happened is the responsibility for that particular series of programs is now moving to the municipalities which are going to be--and there is a piece of legislation in the House now--responsible for housing at the local level; for many reasons, primarily because it's more responsive and more cost-effective.
From the shelters' point of view, there continue to be 98 shelters across the province that provide 24-hour, seven-days-a-week emergency residential care. That has not changed. In addition to that, there are 100 counselling agencies which are funded through Comsoc and the total bill for that is $82 million a year. Over and above that, the total we're spending on violence-against-women prevention services, which includes counselling for careers, for emotional abuse, advice on housing and all sorts of things, totals $135 million.
It's a complicated file; no one denies that. But there is a transference of responsibility occurring here and no diminishment of the need or the recognition that this kind of service needs to be offered. Has your organization been working with municipalities in any way to continue in this work and allow the municipalities to understand the importance of second-stage housing and the counselling programs that go along with that?
Ms Hansen: Individual directors of second-stage housing are working with their particular municipalities. As the alliance, I have not been involved in that in any way at all.
I'm sure everything you have said is completely and totally true. I wouldn't argue with a word. The problem is that women can go to women's emergency shelters and they can stay there for a maximum of six weeks. Using Mr Kormos's example of this woman who has problems with an abusive, stalking spouse that have gone on and on, this woman is a perfect candidate to come and stay at a second-stage housing program where she could stay for periods of up to a year, where she could be protected, where she could have what few staff who are left in the second-stage housing programs surviving in the province. She can have the services of staff who have special knowledge in the whole issue of assaults against women and have special knowledge in dealing with the court system to help her to get through that.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Elliott.
Mrs Bountrogianni: I too don't deny the government's number and figures, although I do want to point out that when counselling services for children are either where they are schooled or where they live, such as second-stage housing, there's a greater probability of their accessing those programs. Again, because of my background I know how difficult it is. I used to be the culprit. I would say, "Your child requires counselling." That's easy of me to say. I've got a car, I've got money, and I could take my kid to counselling. A lot of these people had to go on three buses to go to Chedoke-McMaster in Hamilton for counselling. They had to take time off from their minimum-wage jobs to do that. That's not the kind of job I had. I didn't get a cut in pay when I had to take my kids to a doctor, for example.
Maybe it's a detail and it's lost to those who make these decisions at whatever level, but having counselling where the kids live or where they go to school is really much more efficient and gives access to much-needed counselling which, in the long run, will begin to end this cycle. It's much more difficult at a later stage in life to end violence in anyone, man or woman.
Maybe you can tell us exactly, besides the one-year stay, what are the other differences between second-stage housing and emergency shelters, to give us all a better understanding?
Ms Krauser: Most second-stage housing is more independent living. They have their own apartments; they usually pay a rent geared to income, a subsidized rent. There's more normalcy to their lives. It's more a reconstruction of the lives instead of this crisis--in our area it's only four weeks at the crisis shelter. The four weeks is just total crisis.
Then when they come to second-stage housing, they have more time to plan. They're given an opportunity, with support, to plan for their future. If they need retraining or they need some personal counselling or their children need some assistance, if they need legal support to go to court, to know what's going to happen at court, a little bit of support; information, education. It just gives a longer period of time to plan for the future, and also to acquire permanent affordable housing. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it's a disaster. There is no housing. After four weeks, where do the women go? Often back to their abusive partners.
Mrs Bountrogianni: Do I have any more time?
The Chair: About 30 seconds.
Mrs Bountrogianni: I was at the women's centre in London on Saturday, which has also taken over the second-stage housing since their funding was cut. I had the statistics yesterday; I don't have them today. But roughly for every one woman who was able to access the emergency shelter, two were turned away. That is how big the need is. Without putting you in a difficult position with statistics, what would you say the equivalent statistics or needs are in the second-stage housing?
Ms Hansen: I'm currently doing a quick survey on that of all of the members for another project that I have underway. What I'm finding is that many of them have waiting lists for the very first time in their history.
The one that I am most familiar with is the one in Stratford where I used to work. We have never had a waiting list until this summer. That's the first time there has ever been a waiting list. I'm finding that in more and more of them around.
The other thing is that there are only 26 of us for the entire province. There are only three in the far north, which means to get to second-stage housing sometimes you're going to have to travel a great distance. I completely agree with what Joanne said. Women who are able and have support systems in their community and who are physically and emotionally able to go and live in the community can go and live in the community. Women who come to second-stage housing often are not able to, because of emotional or physical disabilities, or their children have some kind of disabilities that they need to have the time to look at, so second-stage housing literally saves women's lives.
The abusive males can sit around outside the shelter for four weeks or six weeks, and know that at that time she must come out. But if she can go from there to second-stage housing for a period of up to a year, that gives some breathing space to the couple. It helps to defuse the situation and it makes it safer for her when her time is up, to go and live in the community.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Hansen and Ms Krauser.
HUMAN EQUALITY ACTION AND RESOURCE TEAM
The Chair: The next presentation is from the Human Equality Action and Resource Team, Eric Tarkington. Good afternoon, Mr Tarkington.
Mr Eric Tarkington: Good afternoon and thank you. I'm going to try to rush through this so as to give you an opportunity to talk to me, but I do have a long presentation so please forgive me if I am rushing.
This presentation has five main points.
(1) Bill 117 was prepared without the help of father-friendly groups.
(2) There is no justification for killing due process.
(3) We believe that Bill 117 will contribute to further harm to children and families.
(4) We ask very seriously, what will history think of us if we continue in this reckless course?
(5) We ask, what can we do to the bill?
First of all, I will answer a question that must be in your minds: "Who is this?" You probably think I'm the devil incarnate. My name is Eric Tarkington. I'm a single parent of a 19-year-old son. On Sunday I was crying in a supermarket because I was buying the last packet of iced tea for him because he's flying to San Francisco to work and study. That's the last packet I'm going to buy for him for quite a long time. I don't know how long. So I was crying in the supermarket. Men do not have such emotions, I know. It's contrary to all your statistics. Nonetheless, it happened.
I'm a teacher at a community college, and I'm a software consultant. I'm also secretary of Human Equality Action and Resource Team, sometimes known as HEART. HEART is a non-profit corporation registered in 1988. It is devoted to helping rejected parents recover from the horrifying process they are subjected to in the courts. HEART is an advocate for keeping both parents fully engaged in the child's life, even after divorce.
Let's go to my points. There was no father-friendly representation in the preparation of this bill. Currently, all levels of government are gender-biased against men. I am offering here a few examples. I can give you a much longer list, and I intend to in writing. I would like to mention today, though, the high rate of single-mother families when it is perfectly obvious to everyone in modern society that men are equally good parents as compared to women. The radical imbalance of custody and access awards against the father is plain evidence of the way society is treating its men unfairly.
Status of Women Canada exists and costs millions of dollars every year. The Ontario Women's Directorate exists and costs millions of dollars every year. The domestic violence courts exist because the rates of conviction in ordinary court were not high enough and the conclusion, instead of ceasing to do this silly business, was to tilt the table further and make it more unfair so that you could get more convictions.
I will provide examples of inflamed language from debate of Bill 117 on October 3, 4 and 5 in my written submissions. I would also like to point out that there is a total absence of funding for men's issues currently in this province or in any other province of this nation. There are men's issues.
To continue on the point that there was no father-friendly representation in the creation of this bill, men are slandered as violent oppressors, but they gave women the vote soon after they got it themselves. Men got the vote commonly at the end of the last century and by the beginning of this century, out of love and respect, they had given it to women.
There is no outreach from government to ex-husbands, fathers and non-custodial parents. I can say that from bitter experience. Father-friendly groups come unprepared to hearings and only after laws and regulations are already drafted.
Second point: there is no justification for killing due process. Here are some truths about violence that I can demonstrate to you with good statistics, and I mean to in writing quite soon:
(1) The rate of real domestic violence is very low. This is the most important fact because it cannot justify turning loose a destructive bureaucracy on the province.
(2) Women do more than men of the domestic violence against children and older persons. I can demonstrate that to you with very good statistics from government sources. Women do a significant amount of violence against men. Men are the main victims of violence in society by a large factor, outside of the area of domestic violence, and government shows no interest in this imbalance of harms against men. Women are the safest members of society across the board.
False allegations will be propelled by this bill, and false allegations have devastating effects on their victims. False allegations can be made opportunistically because there are no specified penalties for them and no penalties are typically imposed by the courts, even though the law allows for them.
The provisions of Bill 117 are draconian and should not be used without strong evidence of real harm. The lag time for a hearing with notice is far too long, up to 15 days, depending on the pleasure of the court. Meanwhile, the devastating effects go on.
Innocent spouses can be put out of the home and out of areas that are necessary for normal business and parenting activities. Innocent spouses will suffer financial and emotional harm that is never compensated, and may even become unable to afford or conduct a legal defence, so that the situation remains in place virtually for life. Many of the prohibitions and orders that wouldn't be applied to an innocent respondent are abusive. The abuser is enlisting the court in the abuse.
Harm to children and families: restraining orders are nuclear weapons in Family Court. There are no deterrent consequences to false allegations in Family Court. Access orders can be made moot already. Under Bill 117 they are trumped, with no Family Court process specified to help the Family Court deal with the situation after Bill 117 has destroyed everything that the court crafted.
A restraining order is the start of a cascade of processes in Family Court, and these processes are so drawn out that the court changes custody or access in the end due to the simple passage of time, with the father excluded from the children's lives. Interim custody orders usually become permanent. These provide strong motivations to make false allegations in the first place.
Harm to children and families, continued: possession of the matrimonial home comes with custody, again another motivation to lie. In recent surveys, 90% of the public believe that the Family Court should be eliminated in favour of parental equality and the right of the child to both parents. The overwhelming weight of research shows that children urgently need both parents but increasingly lose their fathers. Lack of a father is the strongest predictor of a person being jailed in his lifetime. Emotional and behavioural problems are seriously increased in father-absent homes for children of both sexes. Most governments have responded to this perversely by punishing good fathers harder, and Bill 117 is a continuation of this perverse tendency.
What will history think of us? I beg you to remember that governments instituted residential schools. Governments caused the Duplessis orphans situation to arise, the internment of Japanese-Canadians in the Second World War, the satanic cult scare which we have so recently gotten over and the false memory syndrome which we have even more recently gotten over. The people who committed these hate crimes felt uplifted and righteous while they were in the process.
What can we do to the bill? First of all, you can narrow the definition of "domestic violence" used in the bill. I'm operating on the assumption that you won't withdraw it, that you politically can't. So please narrow the definition so that this doesn't get turned loose, damaging innocent people on the landscape at random. You can narrow the definition by excluding the "reckless act or omission" language. Very serious sanctions are going to apply, so I must urge you not to apply them frivolously. Please require a reasonable anticipation of grievous bodily harm or significant damage to property. Don't double up the requirement only for probability, and low probability at that, for taking such draconian measures. Please exclude "recording" from the definition. Recording is often the only way that the innocently accused can protect themselves from false allegations.
Emergency intervention orders are very draconian and should not be granted on an unfounded fear of property damage alone. Please require a first hearing, with notice, within 24 hours of the allegation, in which the accused has right of counsel; the accuser must hold herself available for the hearing within that 24 hours and not delay the proceedings; and you must automatically vacate any temporary order that was not brought back by the parties.
Please create civil penalties on the balance of probabilities for false accusations and make them compulsory on judges. Courts "may" put a false accuser out of the residence on first offence; "shall" on second. Please impose fines, costs. Be specific. The court may refuse to hear a further accusation from a false accuser.
Not directly within the bill, but I am asking the government to please enact gathering of statistics. Current statistics are issue-oriented toward one point of view. All the statistics that you get through your departments are statistics in which people were paid to demonstrate that men are evil.
Finally, please create outreach to father-friendly groups. We have something to say, and it's safe to be with us in more intimate surroundings than this hearing.
In closing, I would like to say that hatred against men is nearing the end of its course, in my view. I feel very optimistic now. Fathers victimized by the divorce system are reaching political age, kind of like me, and you will see more of us attempting to influence your thinking. Children from divorced families clearly see how the system deprived them of a parent and other cruelties in the system. Feminists are watching their sons' and brothers' lives unravel, and the public is becoming aware of its own strong consensus in favour of equal parenting and the regard of all people in society as equally good.
Forgive me, please, for speaking so stridently. I was in a terrible hurry.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Tarkington. We have about six minutes for questions, starting with the government side.
Mrs Tina R. Molinari (Thornhill): Thank you very much for your presentation and for taking the time to come here today. Obviously, in your voice, you're very emotional about the whole issue, and I appreciate that. As a mother of two boys, I sense where you're coming from.
The intent of this bill is not in any way to punish or to be unfair to men; it's more to be fair and to realize the effects of domestic violence in society and to try to do whatever it is we can do as a provincial government to enforce some of the protection for those who are experiencing that type of violence.
In your presentation you said the rate of real domestic violence is very low. You went on to explain some of the amendments and changes you would like to see put in the bill. I'd like to ask you if you could just elaborate a little more on what your definition of real domestic violence is, because it appears to be that it's not incongruent with what is in this bill. You did mention that some of your changes would be to eliminate acts or omissions that cause bodily harm, so if you could elaborate on what your definition of real domestic violence is, as opposed to what we have in this bill, it would help me understand.
Mr Tarkington: The first thing I would like to say is that worthy goals frequently lead to bad law. Focusing on one particular problem, you can do harm in other areas. That is what we believe you are doing.
As to the question of what domestic violence is, it's a difficult question for anyone to face. I think I have to tell you that domestic violence is roughly divided between men and women, except in its most extreme form when people are desperately fighting for their lives, and in those cases men have an advantage. I would agree with many of the liberalized definitions of domestic violence, but I would not agree that all of them, because they can be called domestic violence, would deserve the same remedy. I think we have to approach the matter with great caution.
I did not in my presentation, unless I made a horrible mistake, say that we should not consider a reasonable apprehension of the danger of bodily harm as not domestic violence. But the apprehension has to be reasonable, and it can't be simply an apprehension of danger to property; it cannot be a matter of someone coming and testifying, "Because he made a certain-handed gesture, I fear for my life." The current law permits that, and the current societal environment encourages it in the justices who will be called upon to enforce the law.
Mrs Bountrogianni: If Mrs Molinari wants to ask another question, I have no questions for this presenter.
The Chair: Mr Kormos?
Mr Kormos: No, thank you, but I'm not ceding my time to anybody.
Mrs Bountrogianni: You can have my time.
The Chair: Mrs Molinari, you have about two more minutes.
Mrs Molinari: I would just like to read into the record that the bill defines domestic violence to include an "act or omission that causes bodily harm or damage to property"; physical assault and threats that cause a person "to fear for his or her safety"; "forced physical confinement"; "sexual assault, sexual exploitation or sexual molestation"; and any "series of acts which collectively causes the applicant to fear for his or her safety."
Where in there do you believe that it is not real domestic violence, to use the same term?
Mr Tarkington: I don't have a copy of the bill in front of me but I recall part of the description regarding the intervention order, which may not be in the definition section, and it includes "reckless act or omission."
Am I allowed to respond to this?
The Chair: You've got about 30 seconds, Mr Tarkington.
Mr Tarkington: I would like to point out that when you're talking about a reckless act or omission, we may have a situation in which the person who is accusing is equally responsible for the omission. This language expects guilt in a person coming before the bench on a very serious matter. If you are attempting to define this out of civil law and then apply criminal punishment, what you are doing is definitely contrary to human rights and tradition in this country.
Mrs Bountrogianni: The Legislative Assembly library research did a great job, and it can't be unconstitutional or against the laws of this country if Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and a number of other provinces also include "act or omission" in their definitions.
Mr Tarkington: Governments, in these cases, are forcing men, on their own private resources, to show the government that they are in fact violating their rights. This will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to individuals and make--wrong is still wrong, even if you have the power to impose it.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Tarkington.
The Chair: The next presenter is Brian Jenkins.
Mrs Molinari: Madam Chair, I would just like to submit from the ministry a chart that was requested yesterday in hearings outlining the major differences between current and proposed legislative provisions, to be shared among the committee.
The Chair: That would be very helpful. Thank you.
Good afternoon, Mr Jenkins.
Mr Brian Jenkins: Good afternoon. My name is Brian Jenkins. I am here representing myself. Just as background, I have a master's in mathematics from the University of Waterloo. I'm a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and I'm a fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. The job of actuaries is dealing with the projection of risk, demographics and statistics, and projections into the future. As a result, I would say that I have some background in both demographics and statistics.
I attended this committee meeting yesterday. I had already mapped out what I was going to say and I threw that out. I'm coming back because I think this committee's underlying principles in this bill are wrong. Mr Bryant is 100% wrong about what the statistics are and I'm very disappointed the Attorney General's office is ignoring them as well.
We are dealing in a society right now that has certain characteristics. These characteristics have been brought about by government and social policy over the last 30 years.
On September 21, 1999, Durex released a study that shows that Canadian children are reaching sexual promiscuity at the earliest age in the 14 countries surveyed, tying the United States. The abortion rate--and I'm not talking about birth control, I'm talking about the abortion rate--in Canada now is that one quarter of all pregnancies are terminated by abortion. There were 115,000 fetuses destroyed last year. Again, this isn't birth control; these are active lapses.
Children in this country are a woman's choice and a man's responsibility.
The fertility rate in this country has dropped, so each woman bears, on average, 1.59 children. The replacement ratio in order to keep our population stable is about 2.1. In four generations, the number of Canadians of child-bearing years will be about 20% of what the population currently is.
Canada's population is maintained in this country--under the provisions and family structures in this country--by immigration, those that aren't touched by this country.
Marriage is a feared institution by the young. Even the Toronto Star documented that one. Fewer than half of initial cohabitations are marriage. Fewer than half of parents bearing children are married in this country. Lone-parent, woman-headed families increased by 60% from 1981 to 1996. Ontario has increased the number of single-mother families in the period from 1991 to 1996 by 25%. By the way, single-father families in the same period grew by 15%.
Planned Parenthood throughout this country has been on a campaign, because the way welfare is now structured, it incites people to have kids for money. Arlene MacDonald of Planned Parenthood in Pictou, which admittedly is in Nova Scotia, notes that 50% of the teenagers applying for pregnancy tests there want to be pregnant so they can get welfare. Children are no longer something that is necessarily loved.
The Toronto Star, on December 6, 1998, interviewed 11- and 12-year-olds about their focus on life and what they thought. This is the generation of people that is coming on line now. Twelve-year-old Kristy Horsnell told them, "I'm going to marry a really rich guy, then divorce him and marry for love. But first I'm going to have his kids so I get child support."
In Canada, 50% of children are not living with one of their biological parents. Currently about 25% of the new generation of child-bearing adults don't have a biological father involved in their lives and don't have any concept of fathering. The current trends will push this to about 50% in the next 15 years. Certainly legislation such as Bill 117 will get it there quicker.
Men's suicide rate is currently about four times that of women's, on average. StatsCan analysis says that divorced men have about 16 times the suicide rate of women. Certainly divorce occurs well after separation and they do not check what the suicide rate of men is at separation, but you would expect it to be higher.
Now I'm going to talk about some of the statistics that are available and that are real statistics that address directly the issue of domestic violence.
First of all, there are two types of statistics--and we'll go through Statistics Canada as well--and they are called charges and victimization. Charges are what police actually lay charges on or how charges are cleared, perhaps where reports are drawn. As we know from the rape debates, charges and victimization can be very different things. They measure different things. One is the willingness of clients to deal with the society. One is the management of the police practices related to it when you take a look at charges.
Victimization is something different. You go and talk to the people and you find out what the victimization is.
Statistics Canada has released two. One is a study called Women in Canada, third edition, dated August 1995. Their number is 89-503E. They've studied women as victims of domestic violence in solved homicide cases. In 1993, which is where their statistics are from--and I would like to point out that's the same year as the violence against women study--there were 97 female homicides that were in a domestic relationship, and they totalled 59.1% of the victims. This is a study of women. If you worked it backwards, if there were 59.1% of 97, that means there were 67 male victims. There are men who are killed here too and there's not an insignificant number of men.
Who kills? Of the 208 women murdered in Canada, 97 were in a domestic relationship. So about 46.6% of assault homicides were domestic violence when it came to the death of women. In Ontario, in 1997, 35 women died from homicide. That's total homicide victims. So you would expect slightly less than half, or maybe about 18, to have died from domestic violence. Every one of those deaths is a tragedy and every single one was a preventable tragedy.
Where do these stack up? Women in the same period of time had 215 suicides, so about 12 times that rate. They were all preventable tragedies. There were 261 motor vehicle deaths, 13.7 times as many women; 638 died from accidental falls; 1,165 died from accidents in total or 65 times the total number of women that died from domestic violence. So when people tell you what the primary cause of death is, it's accidents. I would like to point out as well, something that I'm very concerned about: 1,316 deaths were related to mental disorders, so about 73.1 times the number of deaths from domestic violence.
All of these tragedies were preventable. They generally impact on women of the same ages, in the same way. There's not an epidemic of any one type of preventable tragedy here.
I would note that if there were 18 women who died, there were about 12 or 13 men who died, based on the statistics of the same period of time.
Solved spousal homicides in 1999, stated in 1999 Juristat, says that in married, common-law, separated and divorced situations: 58 spouses were killed by men, 13 were killed by women, so there the accusation is that 80% of the deaths were caused by men and 20% were by females. I won't ask what the percentage of everybody's plurality was, but 80% and 20% are not necessarily the same thing.
In 1999-2000, a study was done that updated the 1993 violence against women study in Canada. I know everybody is aware of this because this was front page news on July 26, in all the major newspapers. Everybody knows that it came out and everybody knows basically what it said. Let me tell you a little about the study. The study was basically a victimization study. It was based on applying the 1993 violence against women criteria to the entire Canadian population, including men, using the 1999 general social survey.
The 1993 violence against women study that was done in Canada by Statistics Canada has internationally been held up as a joke, as a method of producing results that you want as opposed to balanced statistics and as way to design slanted surveys. This apparently was Statistics Canada's attempt to put it back and put a balanced population in there to show the validity of what happened.
The 1993 survey itself was a slanted study. It only targeted women, and they found that 2% of married women indicated that they had had some level of abuse, and that is Criminal Code definition of abuse, from a current partner in the last 12 months--2%. Now, that was not a statistic that they released anywhere except in the footnotes. They made up other things about lifetime balance and things like that. But let's be realistic: 2% of married women, which we're talking about having to protect, may have had some domestic violence in the last 12 months, from the violence against women study in 1993.
So what does this study show? This study shows that 1% of both men and women in married relationships had some level of spousal violence in the last 12 months. There were actually 85 women and 88 men, but there is 1%. Four per cent of men and women in common-law relationships indicated some level of spousal violence in the last 12 months--4%. When you balance the married versus the common-law, overall violence is said to be 2% for men and 2% for women, just about equal. There actually werea little more men but it's the joy of rounding; you can make everything look the same and the same is likely fine. There actually was about 20% more, if it makes any difference.
Women report violence, however, from previous relationships more strongly than men. In the last five years, based on any intimate partner, 8% of women reported some level of violence, 7% of men. In the last 12 months, 6% of women from any partner, 4% of men from any partner. Roughly speaking, 220,000 women in Canada have had some level of domestic violence in the last 12 months, and 177,000 men.
Use of support services: By the way, this is a publicly available study; I'm sure you can all get it. You can even download it off the Internet, but if you need it I'll supply you with a copy.
Some 48% of women had access to support services, 17% of men. If you go to the Attorney General's Web site, if you go to the Solicitor General's Web site, if you go to the Ontario Women's Directorate's Web site you'll find there is no support in Ontario for men. I'm not going to go into it, but just from my own personal experience, having been a victim of domestic violence, charges having been laid by the police against my ex-wife, I can assure you there is no support for men in this province.
Police are notified in about 37% of all female abuse cases. Where a woman's been abused, they're notified about 37% of the time. If you want a statistic, there it is. Fifteen per cent of men's abuse is reported. Women call 78% of the time themselves. Men know it's pretty futile; they phone about half the time themselves. The other half are usually reported by professionals who've treated the injuries. Forty-eight per cent of the women who do report want their partner arrested and punished; less than 34% of the men do.
Statistics Canada compared the level of domestic violence in this country to the 1993 study for women. Their conclusion: "There is evidence of a decline in wife assault in recent years. Although both surveys estimate one-year rates of 3%, five-year rates declined from 12% in 1993 to 8% in 1999, a drop which is statistically significant. Most indicators point to a decline in the severity of violence committed against women over this time period.... Assaults also tended to occur less frequently," result in fewer injuries and require less medical attention.
Police statistics say that 87% of reported cases are violence against women. Remember, you had about equal violence; 37% of women were reporting and 15% of men, and if you do the ratio, somewhere the men got dropped off there.
Injuries, minor or major, were about 47%, were in roughly equal proportion. Eighty-one per cent of women's charges were cleared by charge, which I'm sure Mr Kormos will tell you means that they laid a charge, which means that in 19% of the cases there weren't charges laid. On the other hand, charges were laid only in 62% of the cases involving men. Why weren't charges laid? Twenty-six per cent of the men requested that no charge be laid, about 14% of the women. Departmental discretion, which means that the option of the police and the crown, which of course reports to the Attorney General's office, wouldn't proceed in 7% of the cases, and then in 2% of the cases of women. Other reasons, which include suicides and too-long waits, dropped the charges against 5% of the men and 3% of the women.
These studies in Canada are nothing unique to this country. This is not an isolated study. This is nothing unique. A study done in New Zealand called the Research in Brief: Findings About Partner Violence from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study by Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi was published by the National Institute of Justice of the US Department of Justice.
This was a study that followed a number of men and women throughout their lives to find out and trace not only the incidence of domestic violence in their lives, among other things, but also the recurrence rate from those who had witnessed domestic violence.
Just to quote from an article that appeared in Mother Jones called "Hitting the Wall," "A surprising fact has turned up in the grimly familiar world of domestic violence: women report using violence in their relationships more often than men. This is not a crack by some antifeminist cad; the information will soon be"--and actually is now--"published by the Department of Justice in a report summarizing the results of in-depth, face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 860 men and women whom researchers have been following since birth ... a University of Wisconsin psychology professor" says that "the study supports data published in 1980 indicating that wives hit their husbands at least as often as husbands hit their wives." That 1980 study was a Straus study that was done in the United States and is supported by the US census data.
In 1999, the Home Office of the government of Britain released the components of their 1996 British Crime Victimisation Study related to domestic violence. Two documents are available, one called--you've got to admit the British love nice titles, right? Listen to this one: Research Findings No. 86 and Domestic Violence: Findings from a new British Crime Survey self-completion questionnaire.
"Men are more subject to physical violence in a married or common-law relationship, while women report more incidents of violence after separation. Women report injury in about 47% of cases while men report injury in about 31% of the cases. Approximately equal numbers of men and women report that they were attacked, but women have indicated that they were either more inclined to attack in intermittent violence cases, or to not remember who attacked first. Men were more inclined not to have been violent throughout the incident--but overall, it indicates that in almost half of all cases both parties participated in the violence."
Similar results came out of a study from the international social science survey in Australia, one called Domestic Violence in Australia: Are Women and Men Equally Violent? There again they confirmed that typically in domestic violence in 50% of the cases the violence is mutual.
Reanalysis of the original Dutton and Kennedy study that triggered the 1993 Violence against Women was performed in 1999 by Kwong, Bartholomew and Dutton and published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. Once again it confirms that in 50% of the cases violence is mutual, and in the other half it's one or the other in about equal amounts.
Studies from 1997 by Grandin and Lupri out of Alberta, Intimate Violence in Canada and the United States: A Cross-National Comparison, which compared the results in Canada and the US, came to exactly the same conclusion: in Canada, domestic violence is a 50-50 proposition.
The Chair: Mr Jenkins, could you wrap up, please. You've got about 30 seconds.
Mr Jenkins: OK. You can see I'm not going to get to the bill.
What this bill says--and the attitude of this committee from yesterday, where Mr Tilson was the only person who used the word "alleged," and I think he managed it three times--is that you have decided to ignore 75% of the domestic violence in this country. This is not a bill to reduce domestic violence; this is a bill to reduce part of it, not all of it. I think this government should very seriously take a look at reducing domestic violence and reducing all of it.
I certainly understand the problems the women's shelters are having in combating domestic violence, but you have to remember that this is a two-way street and you need resources for the other people as well.
Things like false allegations, as Mr Kormos said, you could handle through perjury charges, but I'm sure Mr Kormos will tell you about how many perjury charges can be levelled in Ontario in a year. I would be surprised if it's more than a dozen.
This bill has lost its focus on what it was trying to do, and I honestly think you should go back and take a look at the statistics that are there, because they are right.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Jenkins.
FATHERS ARE CAPABLE TOO
The Chair: The next speaker is Peter Cornakovic, Fathers Are Capable Too parenting association.
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Chair: We've just received a package of three photocopied items. Two of them appear to identify the source, Riding the Donkey Backwards and Gender Differences. I believe they identify the source. The third one has no source identified.
The Chair: My understanding, Mr Kormos--are they from you, Mr Cornakovic?
Mr Peter Cornakovic: Yes, they are. I apologize for that oversight. That is part of a book written by Professor Alan Dershowitz called The Abuse Excuse. I'll be talking to that one. Please excuse my oversight there.
First let me introduce myself. My name is Peter Cornakovic. I am a professional accountant. I am an executive member of FACT, Fathers Are Capable Too, which is a non-profit organization. It's a parental association. Let me read what our mission is so you have a better idea of who I am and what I'm representing here.
Our vision is that we will change the legal and social attitude to promote shared parenting and formal equality. Our mission is to promote public awareness, provide education and support programs in parenting for children, their families and the total community. We want to establish and provide support programs for parents and children, and we want to support the educational, social and recreational activities of the community.
Our values, philosophies and principles are that we will, number one, maintain our focus on our vision and our mission. We are respectful of the social norms and laws. We are a moderate, non-violent vehicle for change. We will conduct our behaviour with integrity and credibility. We value the talent of individual members and recognize that success will depend on us as a group, to make things happen.
Bill 117, in my perspective, will just codify the current situation of domestic violence and, in my opinion, it will just perpetuate female victimization. According to the studies that were presented, two of which I presented to you, and I believe touched on by the previous speaker--there's a lot of stats. I was going to go into the stats, but I think the stats were pretty thorough, so I will bypass that process and make this talk a bit shorter.
I think he did a fairly good job of presenting the myths and stereotypes. As per the two reports I presented and the StatsCan report the previous speaker presented, violence is mutual, according to studies and contrary to myopic myths and stereotypes.
Riding the Donkey Backwards: Men as the Unacceptable Victims of Marital Violence is a good example of a study that was done by a qualified psychologist. Gender Differences in Patterns of Relationship Violence in Alberta was done by qualified psychologists. The study by StatsCan, Family violence in Canada, 2000--A statistical profile, was an update which shows that domestic violence is largely mutual between men and women, contrary to myopic myths and stereotypes.
Although the legislation is not gender biased in its presentation, from my perspective the intention is to make it gender biased. If this happens, this will be in contravention of section 15(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It will increase opportunities for false allegations by providing positive reinforcement to dysfunctional behaviour.
The act should guarantee neutral enforcement compared to the current bias that we have in our system. The standards of evidence should be consistent with the standard in criminal law, and therefore ensure due process in law, unlike the current situation. I recommend that statistical record keeping on allegations and convictions based on gender should be kept for the police, the crown and courts, so we can compare that to the actual statistics on domestic violence and see what's happening there, and make sure the law is interpreted in a non-gender way.
My suggested change to the current bill is that the legislation should be rejected if implemented in a biased manner; the Solicitor General's and Attorney General's office could be held vicariously liable if it is not. This could be worth billions of dollars to the taxpayers of this province, if they are found to be implemented in a gender-biased way.
Children and property should be excluded. Emotional abuse is not a crime for grown-ups. The article I gave you, by Professor Alan Dershowitz, goes into great detail. He goes into such great detail that he even had time to single out Canada, this great country of ours, as being a culture where feminist censorship prevails. I think it's pretty obvious from the legislation and the intention of the legislation that's being presented.
I'm recommending that false allegations should be charged as domestic violence and that access denial should be treated as child abuse. Most qualified psychologists would recommend the same. Standards of evidence should be consistent with criminal law in recognition of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Like I said before, the legislation is not explicit to gender bias, but I can read between the lines, like a lot of other people can and a lot of speakers before me already have. If it is interpreted as such, it is in contravention, once again, of the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It will create a huge potential liability, costing the province and the taxpayers of this province potentially billions of dollars for every man falsely accused and without due process in law.
I have some predictions about what's going to happen if this is followed through in its interpretation and is continued in its biased implementation. There will be an increase in false allegations because they are now being positively reinforced with full custody of property and children, which seems to be one and the same, unfortunately. It's contrary to advanced cognitive and human behavioural science, for the psychologists, and in contravention of the Charter of Rights.
It will increase rage and violence in men who are falsely accused, suffering from greater depression, anxiety and insomnia. My organization deals with many of these men. We deal with at least one or two men every week who tell us, "You won't believe the story that I've just had," and it's the same old story: "I've been falsely accused. I've been kicked out of the house. I do not have access to my kids. I'm suffering from depression." The first thing we tell them is, "Go see your doctor."
Current direction on domestic assault, in my opinion, is in violation of section 15(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Like I said, we deal with many victims of domestic violence. We have the situation of one of our colleagues who was hit with a baseball bat in front of a witness and the police would not lay charges. One of my colleagues was accused of bruising his spouse's hand because it hit his eye, by a non-qualified professional. It's almost humourous. Then there's the famous Kickin' Vixen as an example. She's a multiple assaulter. She was not charged. If that's not biased, I don't know what is.
I'd like to finish off by quoting Mr David Blankenhorn on fatherless America. "Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society. It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence."
Certainly, despite the difficulty of proving causation in the social sciences, the weight of evidence increasingly supports the conclusion that fatherlessness is a primary generator of violence among young men. This bill, if implemented in a gender-biased way, will encourage fatherlessness and encourage violence, unfortunately. I hope, if it's implemented, it will be implemented with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and implemented fairly.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Carnakovic. Ms Bountrogianni, do you have a question? Mr Kormos? Government members? No questions. OK. Thank you very much for coming this afternoon.
The Chair: The next speaker is Mr Bill Flores, Children's Voice. Good afternoon, Mr Flores.
Mr Bill Flores: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of this committee. Children's Voice is an organization advocating for children's rights, especially the right to have equal, meaningful and permanent relationships with both of their parents after separation or divorce. As such, we would like to voice strong objections to the passing of this bill in its present form since we deem it to be highly detrimental to both children and families.
During our several years experience in dealing with marital conflict, we have come to conclude that gender prejudice of any form ends up reflecting negatively on children. It is for this reason that we endeavour to challenge it anywhere we find it.
In our opinion, this bill would not deter domestic violence, but rather incite it. We see it as a pro-lawyer, pro-violence bill. It appears also to have the purpose of increasing the number of domestic violence applicants which will be later used as proof that domestic violence is increasing, contrary to present statistical evidence widely reported in the press. Its mere introduction is an affront to better, non-adversarial conflict resolution mechanisms.
This bill is far worse than the platform, "Shout at your spouse, you lose your house," which defeated a then leading Liberal candidate in an Ontario provincial election.
In addition to the moral ground of fairness, we would also like to raise objections to the passing of this bill on legal grounds since this legislation is being introduced under preferred-gender policies, where only women's groups are provided financial funding, and is contrary to section 28 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This prejudice provides women's advocacy groups with an advantage over the unrepresented other half of the population by enabling them to lobby and conduct research and ways to manipulate it to their advantage, frequently in very deceitful ways.
It may be worth noting that yesterday, October 23, the government issued a press release by the Honourable Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, Helen Johns, indicating that they will be doubling funding for women's groups.
During the years of preferred-gender policies, many laws have been passed that need to be reviewed for gender prejudice. Many of these laws have already lead to abuse similar to the famous Salem witch trials of the 1600s, and Bill 117 would only be furthering the grounds for the mob hatred that is being directed towards men, their children and families by radical feminist ideology.
Sections and subsections of this proposed act, mainly under section 5, step on the free will of people by patronizing them and deciding for them by way of unilaterally confirming presumed actions with one-sided, uncorroborated evidence. This effectively takes the responsibility from adults to take basic care of themselves, treating them as children.
As an example of the effects this bill could have if passed, the 63% of false allegations of child abuse during marital disputes admitted to by CAS agencies could be used as a reference. Involving children as pawns in marital wars is a reality, but it is a reality with boundaries only the most vindictive and irresponsible parents dare to trespass on to, sometimes pushed by their lawyers. If we extrapolate this experience to disputes solely among adults, a higher number of abuse-of-process cases should be reasonably expected.
Even though not all of the proposed sections in this bill are bad, many are already covered in present harsh laws. However, not well defined, catch-all wording of some sections are particularly worrisome since they turn existing laws into mechanisms to implement them. Examples are subsections 1(2), paragraph 6, and subsection 1(3). The obscure wording can have such wide applications and ill effects on other sections of the bill that we would need hours, not the 20 minutes provided here, to present them to this committee.
As it is presently written, the sections could be easily used for parental alienation purposes or to gain the upper hand in custody and access disputes.
Should this committee chose to ignore the pleas for reason, we believe that this bill should be reviewed only after pending changes to the Divorce Act and Ontario Family Law Act are implemented. This would minimize the animosity among the disputing parties and the possibilities for abuse of process that an act like the proposed Bill 117 entices.
We are fair believers that disputing, separating or divorcing parents need help, not to be thrown into an adversarial system that further pits them against each other, increases animosity and depletes them of financial resources, something which goes to the direct detriment of children. This bill provides all the financial incentives for parties to try to harm each other.
Do you have any questions?
The Acting Chair (Mrs Brenda Elliott): Thank you, Mr Flores. We have time for questions. Are there any questions from the Liberal caucus? No. Mr Kormos?
Mr Kormos: No, thank you.
The Acting Chair: Conservative caucus? No. No questions for you. Thank you very much for your presentation this afternoon.
The Acting Chair: I would like to now call upon Mr Walter Fox, please. Welcome. Please proceed.
Mr Walter Fox: Hello. I don't think I'll be very long at all. My name is Walter Fox. I happen to be a criminal lawyer and I'm here representing no one but myself.
It came to my attention yesterday morning that this legislation was actually coming forward. At that time I spoke to the person who arranges for people to come and speak and I was slotted in for this afternoon. I've spent two busy working days--I tend to be in a criminal courtroom every working day of my life--and I thought very long and hard about what I might say, between making submissions to judicial officers, to this committee.
The first thing that occurred to me, having a quick look at this legislation, was that you really need to know what's going on in the real world. I came in late and I only heard three speakers. It seems to me they're getting that message across.
I also recall that during a nomination convention when Jean Chrétien was nominated as leader of the Liberal Party--I believe it was 1983 or 1984--he said, "Do not adjust your set. What you see is what you're going to get." It seems to me you're going to hear a lot more of what you've heard so far today.
I would like to point out to you that you will hear from groups, usually women's groups, that those groups are funded. The men who come before you today or in the course of these hearings come before you at their own expense, with no funding from anyone. Keep in mind, most often these are men who are paying support and sometimes are working at two and three jobs. They're here to tell you the harm and the difficulty and the problems that the existing regime in family law is creating for them and how this particular legislation will make it even worse.
It's pretty clear to anyone who's got any legal training that this is criminal legislation in the guise of a provincial statute. The scheme, the regime, here is some vague definition of what might or might not constitute domestic violence. Then we go through some kind of court process which is a bastardization of anything we've seen before and at the end of it we come out with an order, and you can go to jail for violating that order. It's a pretty transparent scheme to create criminal law without the usual safeguards that Canadians have always taken for granted, things that are now enshrined in the charter and originated in the common law and started way back with the Magna Carta. It seems that the ideological winds are blowing so strongly that they're going to sweep away basic protections that every Canadian expects to have living in this country in the name of some ideological objective which has no basis in statistics or in anything to do with the real world. That's the first view of this legislation.
Consider the legal, political and cultural context in which this legislation lands. We have a family law system which is basically "winner take all." Mom gets custody. Maybe that should be the law. As you read the law, it says the person who can best provide for the best interests of the child will get custody. As a practical matter, mom gets custody. It beats me. Why don't we just say, "In any custody dispute, custody will be presumed in favour of mother." I don't understand why we can't admit that publicly. Maybe that ought to be the law. But we can't, and the debate gets obscured because the best interests of the child come to be defined as the best caregiver or the primary caregiver and it goes off the rails.
Once mom gets custody, she gets the house, she gets spousal support and she gets child support. That's a pretty big prize. That's a pretty big incentive for somebody to maybe do something that's not proper. But the family law as it exists fails us because there's no control. If mom lies to a judge, if mom files a false affidavit, how does that detract from her being the primary caregiver? How does that detract from giving her custody? So we're caught in an environment where mom is going to get custody and everything is going to flow from that, and now you throw in this legislation and the fun starts.
One of the open secrets among family lawyers is that once a court order is made, be it what's called "interim interim" or "interim," that order can rarely be changed, because you can't get back into court, because there are no controls. Technically, what happens is that mom files an affidavit and she says, "Dad has sex with chickens. I know. The neighbours saw it," and on the basis of that allegation she gets custody, the house, support and whatever. Dad moves to cross-examine her. She doesn't show up for the cross-examination. In civil litigation, she would be liable in costs. She might have her case struck out. Not in family law. All that happens is, she doesn't show up. Well, then she doesn't show up the third time or the fourth time. Well, maybe she does show up to be cross-examined, but she leaves. There is no control over her conduct once she has an order.
Understand that clearly and then you'll understand what one of the serious problems in this legislation is, because the legislation provides that you can make the one-shout-in-the-house allegation--the newspapers talk about one shout and you're out. It isn't even that good. It's an allegation of a shout. It doesn't mean you actually shouted; somebody just thought you shouted.
There are two alternatives. It can go by way of notice--you serve the other side and they come to court and maybe they argue it out--or you go the emergency route. Guess what happens; guess what's going to happen. It's going to be the emergency route nine times out of 10.
"Don't worry about it, Mr Fox. The emergency route provides that within 30 days you come back to court." Well, on day 12 she can't come to court because the children have a cold, on day 16 her lawyer is in another court, and on and on with no control. Does the legislation say that if she doesn't show up within the 30 days to really discuss the issue in a fair and open way, she loses the order? It doesn't say that. Within half a kilometre of where we're sitting there are probably a 1,000 lawyers who can tell you, "Give me this order and I'll protect it and I'll make sure it doesn't get into court for two years. I don't care what the legislation says, because I know how to delay, I know how to adjourn, especially if I'm acting for a mother, and she never has to pay costs."
One last thing. At a certain level this legislation is a version of strengthening what are called restraining orders. There's no one thing that's a restraining order. A bail condition can be a restraining order, a probation order can be a restraining order and maybe what is contemplated by this legislation can be a restraining order.
One of the facts that everyone in the criminal courts knows is that when he's arrested, he's held overnight, he's brought to court the next morning and he's told he can't go home. If it's Friday morning, Wednesday morning, it doesn't matter; he can't go home. Well, she's stuck because the in-laws are coming for the weekend, the mortgage payment is due, they've got to close the cottage, any one of a thousand domestic things. There is a court order, based on her fear of him, that he can't communicate with her. She phones him with impunity; she calls him. He takes the call: "The children are stuck in the car somewhere. I need the insurance policy." He answers the question. Guess what. They're both in violation of that court order. Any lawyer worth his salt will tell you that they're both in violation of that court order, but she won't get charged. He will. That's how it works.
Everybody in the criminal courtroom knows, and I was quoted in the press with this statement--the judge knows, the prosecutor knows, the defence lawyer knows, the person who sweeps up the court knows--that that court order prohibiting him from contacting her will be violated by her. We have no reason to believe that it won't be violated by her in these circumstances as well.
Just to follow up and finish this particular one off: I was quoted in the press as saying that. I was in the old city hall. That's as far as I'll go in identifying anyone. Sorry--I was in the East Mall one morning, and the justice of the peace stopped me and in open court said, "I saw what you said in the paper. I agree with you. We all know that's how it works and that's what's going on." There may even be a transcript of those remarks. Later that morning I bumped into another justice of the peace, one from the old city hall, and he said to me, "You know, you're absolutely right. That's how these orders work. Everybody knows that she's going to violate the order."
Keeping all of that in mind, I can't imagine what you hope to accomplish with this kind of legislation except maybe to keep the cold winds that blow out of the Toronto Star and out of the Globe and Mail from blowing in here and somehow dissipating your votes. It makes no sense to me. I'm not a politician; I'm only a criminal lawyer.
Those are my submissions. I hope they're of some use to you. Are there any questions?
Mr Bryant: Let me just understand: are you saying that these legislative changes are going to have no effect?
Mr Fox: No. They're going to make everything that's going on worse. They're moving in the wrong direction. They're not dealing with reality.
Mr Bryant: I take it you're not referring to the vast majority of victims of domestic violence who don't turn to the criminal justice system, or is that what you're talking about?
Mr Fox: What vast majority of victims who don't turn to the criminal justice system? What group are you talking about? What numbers are we talking about?
Mr Bryant: I'm talking about the 75% of women who do not go to the criminal justice system.
Mr Fox: How do you know that?
Mr Bryant: Because I go to women's shelters. We go to groups. We meet with police officers. We know of these victims.
Mr Fox: I'm not certainly buying that line. I know all about the kinds of statistics that you are talking about, the one-sided statistics where there are no data: the famous survey that was taken of 13 women in a shelter in San Diego, California, in 1976 and trumpeted that 98% of women in Canada will be sexually assaulted. I know about those statistics.
Mr Bryant: I think those are all my questions.
The Chair: Anyone from the government side?
Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa West-Nepean): Mr Fox, thank you very much for coming here. We've heard some very interesting presentations today. I think we have acknowledged that this was far from perfect legislation. I think the Attorney General in his opening remarks in the House first of all stated that he was prepared to look at some amendments. Certainly he was clear in caucus on that point.
I'm fascinated that you would take time out of your billable hours to come down here. Let me tell you I practise in Ottawa-Carleton. I don't know whether it would happen there, and I commend you for it, because you don't have an axe to grind. I'm not suggesting that the people who appeared before have an axe to grind, but they appear to have one. They represent a group; they're organized for that purpose. Let me tell you that not just in this legislation but in a lot of legislation and a lot of committee hearings that detracts from how all of us--I'm no different--feel.
I want to ask you something. First of all, how long have you practised criminal law?
Mr Fox: I have practised law 32 years. I've been pretty much doing criminal law since the mid-1970s.
Mr Guzzo: You did some family law before that?
Mr Fox: I have even recently done some family law, occasionally.
Mr Guzzo: You try to avoid it, though, correct?
Mr Fox: Like most lawyers I know, family law is the last place I want to be.
Mr Guzzo: Why? Explain to the committee just briefly why that is.
Mr Fox: Family law is not law by any definition we would ordinarily follow. Most law ends up with a trial. Most law ends up with an ability to go before a court. A contract is meaningless unless you can have a trial somewhere down the road to enforce it. You hope that the law is done so well by the court and by the legislation that you rarely have to go to court, but all contracts have to be interpreted against the background of a court.
In family law there's absolutely nothing resembling this. Family law lawyers will tell you that they are proud of the fact that only 3% of family law cases get to trial. That's the number they use: 3%. They say, "That means we're doing such a good job that 97% of our cases settle." Madam Justice Kiteley, relying on a decision by Madam Justice L'Heureux-Dubé and the rest of the Supreme Court of Canada, has just told us that settlements and agreements in family law are worthless. They don't mean anything. They can be reviewed and revised and revamped at any time. To me it's demeaning to women, it infantilizes women, but that's what the law tells us. So now you have a legal system where you can't get a trial and the settlements are not binding. Who wants to practise in that area?
Mr Guzzo: Unfortunately, some of us do. But let me just make the point for the committee that on that we do agree. There is a consistent point with Ottawa-Carleton, and let me tell you, as a former provincial judge sitting in numerous areas around this province, including Toronto, that's a constant factor right through this province. That is a fact of life right through this province, and the 3% might be high. Coming from Ottawa-Carleton, I was interested in Mr Windsor's comments. I don't think you were here. He mentioned the children's aid society report done on Ottawa-Carleton that suggested that two thirds, 66%, of the allegations were proven to be misleading, false allegations with regard to abuse. If I recall that study, it applied to allegations against children, which is again the common thread. Do you have any difficulty with that figure?
Mr Fox: I think that figure is low. Without getting into the statistics and my disagreement with Mr Bryant as to what constitutes proper statistical methodology, the incentive is there. If nothing happens to you if you lie in court or if you lie in affidavits, and you get the big prize, which is custody of the children and the house and the support payments and all of that, why wouldn't you do it?
Mr Guzzo: Are you suggesting that two thirds of lawyers practising matrimonial law in Toronto would insert some form of an allegation in documentation that would lead a provincial court judge or a Unified Family Court judge hearing an interim application to believe that there was a threat of violence, a threat against the child or against the spouse?
Mr Fox: I'm not sure I understand your question. Is your question, would lawyers do it? Let's start with, clients would do it. Let's start with that. Would lawyers do it? Lawyers will take the position, "I don't know. I wasn't there. These are the instructions I've received and this is the procedure I'm going to follow."
I've always felt that if you want to clean out half of the family law files, clean out half the paperwork, you just have to lay a charge on one father's lawyer and one mother's lawyer for filing false affidavits. You don't even have to get them convicted; just let them know they're not immune, and I think you'd clean up half the paperwork out of those courts overnight.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Fox.
We're a little ahead of schedule. I am wondering if Maxine Brandon of Mothers for Kids is here yet. OK, perhaps we'll take a 10-minute recess, committee. I wonder if I could just have a very quick, informal subcommittee meeting with Mr Bryant, Mr Kormos and Mrs Elliott.
Mr Kormos: Our job is to serve you, Madam Chair.
The Chair: We'll be back in 10 minutes.
The committee recessed from 1727 to 1737.
The Chair: We'll call the meeting back to order. Is Maxine Brandon here from Mothers for Kids?
The Chair: No. I certainly would want to have the consent of the full committee to do that. We'll give Ms Brandon a few more moments because she's not scheduled to speak, actually, until 10 to 6.
I have received a request from a member of the public who is present to reiterate what we said in terms of the subcommittee direction yesterday with respect to the deadline for written submissions. Members of committee, you may be aware that originally we had suggested that the deadline for written submissions be November 9. The committee changed that to November 7 at 12 noon, so I'm repeating that for members of the public who are present here today. If you do wish to send written submissions, the deadline to receive those is November 7. There's just a minor glitch with that, the minor glitch being that the newspaper publication did go out with the original date, so if we do receive submissions after November 7, we will continue to circulate those to members of the committee. Any questions?
Mr Bryant: Not on that, Madam Chair. Just to go back to the previous point, is the gentleman who wants to present now, and I'm in the hands of the Chair, already slotted to present later on anyway?
The Chair: I have no idea because I don't know what his name is.
Mr Bryant: Can I just say one more thing, Madam Chair? While I think it really should be up to the clerk to decide who fills this gentleman's spot, we can't have spot substitution. That said, if he wants to speak now and he's already scheduled to speak later, it doesn't sound like we're going to have any objection from the government.
The Chair: No. I guess I'm in a bit of a dilemma though, members of committee, because we did finish early and we have to wait until 10 to 6 because Maxine Brandon was scheduled for that time slot. We can't really hear from anyone unless you want to give him five minutes.
Mr Bryant: Could we not hear from him in the interim?
The Chair: If you want the five-minute interim to be filled, it's up to committee. What do you want to do?
Mrs Molinari: Yes, sure.
The Chair: OK, Mr Colosimo. Can you say what you want to say in five minutes?
Mr Colosimo: I can talk for five minutes, certainly.
The Chair: OK, please do.
The Chair: How are you?
Mr Colosimo: Hello, my name is Gene Colosimo. I think Marilyn might remember me from tennis 25 years ago.
The Chair: Yes.
Mr Kormos: Were you an instructor?
Mr Colosimo: Well, I could have helped her a little bit, I suppose, on that.
I have talked to about 5,000 fathers in eight years. What we're missing here is that access denial is spousal abuse. I have not seen my little girl for seven years. My mother hasn't seen my little girl in seven years. I haven't worked in five. I'm not the guy you know.
Maybe I'll just do a poem.
You don't know me, little one
but I'm the man that gave you life.
Once we were a happy family,
your mother was my loving wife.
You have no memory of that time;
you were just a baby on my knee,
But I remember everything;
your memory's all that's left to me.
I remember on a lazy morn
counting piggies on your toes
Or else with thumb between my fingers
I'd pretend that daddy got your nose.
Sometimes we played at patty cake
or peekaboo or don't-you-cry
And when the sandman came to greet you,
I soothed you with a lullaby.
I remember how you cooed with laughter
when we nuzzled face to face.
You wore a handmade cotton jumper
that grandma finished all in lace.
But she is lost to you forever,
the angels took her long ago,
She could not bear the separation
from a child she longed to know.
I remember blowing clouds of soapy bubbles,
strolling through a petting zoo.
These are things that I remember,
stolen moments I shared with you.
Divorce is such a tragedy,
broken lives and shattered dreams,
But until you've lost your little girl
you cannot know just what it means.
Survivors of a hurricane and earthquake
or a fire or a flood
Will gladly part with everything
when escaping with their flesh and blood.
But we did not avoid disaster,
we suffered worse than nature's blow.
The court saw fit to separate us,
a father's love you'll never know.
"Child abuse," I cried in anger,
before I learned I mustn't cry.
The courts deal swift with a righteous temper
so I lost the apple of my eye.
Joint custody's the only answer
for a broken family to survive,
Not damning men into isolation to live apart.
To live apart is not to thrive.
I often think about your life,
what greater deeds you might have done
Had both your parents shared the vision,
not just a selfish, spiteful one.
I wonder if the holidays
that I endure with such disdain
Might be a cause for celebration
and not a time of haunting pain.
I do not trim a tree at Christmas
or carve a pumpkin at Halloween.
What use have I for fireworks?
Through children's eyes they must be seen.
I do not hunt for eggs at Easter,
Valentine's can come and go.
Without my little girl beside me
I can't make angels in the snow.
I do not rustle through the leaves in autumn
or jump in puddles when it rains.
A grown man needs his children with him;
alone he'd surely look insane.
I do not care for cotton candy
or sandy castles on the beach.
I could not share them with you, Dolly;
your mother kept you out of reach.
I have no need of Frosty Snowman,
I have no will to fly a kite.
Your absence killed the child within me,
your laughter was my heart's delight.
I've lost a bit there. Anyway, it's not coming out here that access denial is child abuse, that it's spousal abuse. I've seen many Ontario Women's Directorate pamphlets that say if you separate a woman from her family and friends, it's psychological abuse. It is abuse, it is violence to separate a woman from her family and friends if you are a husband and you cut her off. I have been separated from my family, from my little girl. My mother who is 82, prays on her knees and cries and I can't help her. I can't run to the Attorney General. I can't call the police. I can't go to a shelter. There is no place for me to go. I can't see my little girl.
I have a bachelor of science degree. Marilyn knows I was on top of the world when she knew me. I've crossed Australia in a four-by-four. I did 38,000 miles. I've been to Australia two different times. I spent five months on a motorcycle around North America, 20,000 miles. I've been to Japan. I've been to New Zealand; I bought a motorcycle and did both islands. I've been all over the world. I haven't worked in five years.
This has destroyed me. It's easy, as this lawyer Walter Fox said, it's easy to keep a matter out of court. Once you're separated from your daughter, it's easy. I spent $80,000 trying to get back into court. Do you know, if you file a 3,000-page appeal, you can't be heard in court? You have to get a special appointment date six months down the road.
You can't wait six months. A little girl won't wait for you. She was three when I lost her. She was four and a half before they said I could see her again, and then she wasn't ready to see me. Without any access to her, I couldn't get professionals. I couldn't get the Clarke Institute. My wife appealed their order. I couldn't get a child psychiatrist at Thistletown. I have a psychologist and I couldn't get an order for him because the orders were appealed and appealed and appealed, after $80,000 of my money and $160,000, I estimate, on the other side; a quarter of a million dollars on one three-and-a-half year-old.
Now I'm a deadbeat dad. You can have me, Mr Flaherty. You can take me now. You've already taken my little girl. Do you think I'm afraid of jail? Men like me kill themselves. We don't care about anything. I'm not afraid of jail.
You've played your big card. If you want my driver's licence, take it. It's government issue that can be government-rescinded. But if you want my child support you're going to have to talk to me. Sir Thomas More was killed by Henry VIII. You've always been able to take a man's freedom and his life, but you can't take his will. St Thomas More would not consent to the marriage of Henry VIII. You cannot separate my purse strings from my heart strings. You cannot ask me to put food on the table and never let me sit at that table. You can't lock me up because I don't care. Every day without my little girl is a living hell. This is child abuse and 30% of fathers are having it. I'm not kidding. I've talked to 5,000 men.
Call 410-FACT. It rings at my house. I've talked to men all over North America and they're willing to return the calls. I don't work any more. I had it all. I was technical services with Pepsi-Cola. I flew all over this country. Incidentally, my trips to Japan were first class, all paid with frequent flyer points, and I don't work any more.
What are you doing? Why are we here? Seventy women were killed last year. Why are we here? What's the agenda? Why isn't there funding for men's groups? FACT has been around five years, they spoke, they didn't even ask for funding. What's going on? Don't I count? Doesn't my mother count? I have two sisters; they don't see their own niece. I have a mother, two sisters and a daughter. These are women, these are abused women. Access denial is child abuse and it's spousal abuse.
There's a book called From Courtship to Courtroom, What Divorce Law Is Doing To Marriage. I suggest you read it. It's a quick read. Jed Abraham, the Harvard lawyer, says in that book that when it comes to divorce, men are two-time losers. They must pay child support for children they no longer fully father and maintenance to women who are no longer their wives.
If you think access works, it doesn't work. I've seen men crying their eyes out because their children don't love them any more. I don't know what would happen if I even saw my daughter on an infrequent basis. But if the brainwashing is complete, it's irreversible and men are destroyed. La famiglia stops in Canada.
Hitler, was he a violent man? I don't think he killed anybody. Was he prone to outrages? He loved children and women, but he could pick up the phone and he could have you eliminated. That's what we feared from this horrible man. In Canada now if you pick up the phone, storm troopers will come and take you out. If you dial 911 and you're a woman you can be taken away, like we hear about the gulags and things in other countries. Foreign men come here. They have no idea what they're getting into. They have no idea that we've come this far.
The Chair: Mr Colosimo, unfortunately as a committee we do have to go into the House to vote.
Mr Colosimo: I'm very appreciative of the time you gave me.
The Chair: We've got perhaps a couple of minutes if there are any questions, but we really will have to cut it off.
Mr Colosimo: I'm more than appreciative of what you've done already. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you for coming this afternoon.
Mr Colosimo: Are there any questions?
The Chair: Any questions? This meeting is adjourned to go to vote.
The committee adjourned at 1753.
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