A Degraded Justice: Ontario’s Bill 117 A License to Perjury Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy
Two Sides to the Violence Coin
As has already been noted, we are all as a community completely horrified when a divorce conflict ends in the death of a female partner. This ultimate expression of rage directed outward by a man is what fuels extremism in the domestic violence debate. Yes, we are horrified, but we show a markedly lower concern when a man turns his pain inward by way of a divorce-related suicide. These are rarely reported, in keeping with the media policy of not publicizing suicide, but these deaths of divorcing men who can not bare the anguish of being separated from their children are of no concern to us. May I respectfully suggest that divorce rage can turn either inward or outward, and if you accept self-destruction than you are only tossing a coin to prevent the outward expression of violence from occurring every once in a while. Perhaps when we start to care about men, we will reduce both kinds of destruction at the very same time.
While men commit suicide at an average rate that is 5 to 8 times higher than females, we continue to ignore this growing problem. Younger men (19-29) are now the highest growing suicide rate group in Canada, and still we create laws that completely usurp justice for men, and enshrine the fallacy that all women are truth-telling, docile creatures. This is creating a hostile environment that creates hopelessness in many men, and the radical rhetoric we use to describe domestic violence situations presumes only men are bad, and all women are good. It is the opinion of this researcher that these harmful stereotypes are the leading cause of rising suicide rates of men of all ages.
Legal Aid: A Barrier to Justice in Family Law
Given the complexity of family law cases, particularly when serious allegations are being made, most people would certainly benefit from effective legal representation, if this were an ideal world. Some mention needs to be made about the exorbitant costs of family law proceedings when dealing with Senior lawyers, but a more troubling barrier to justice is likely the effect of the policies of Ontario’s Legal Aid Society.
It is very difficult to obtain a good and effective lawyer who is willing to work on the basis of a Legal Aid certificate. Although to many of us, lawyers sound like whiny baseball players when they complain about fees of $60 per hour, the fact is that lawyers rarely submit an itemized bill for an hourly rate of payment. Nearly all family law matters that do not go to trial are paid on a bulk fee basis, a flat rate for services rendered. I am advised by some Ontario lawyers that the accounting process Legal Aid implements for the hourly rate of pay is so byzantine, that an attorney can spend 3 to 10 hours of additional time on the billing process alone, with no guarantee of success. The bulk tariff rates, however, are paid immediately and without question.
Since bulk rates are all less than $1,000.00, the less a lawyer does, the more profitable the legal aid case becomes. It is not uncommon for lawyers working on legal aid cases to accept far too many cases in the knowledge that none will be well prepared. Extra filings, disbursements, letters, meetings, hearings, examinations, affidavits and even witness interviews are sparse if not non-existent in the legal aid file.