A Degraded Justice: Ontario’s Bill 117 A License to Perjury Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy
systems in the U.S. include this resource, which frequently develop solid reputations for effective and modern clinical assessments that can be relied upon and trusted by the Court and the Public alike. Such court attached services are also immune to the need to provide reports which support the paying party. No case which includes allegations of criminal behaviour can proceed to settlement or mediation without an effective custody and access assessment, but many can not afford the prohibitive cost. A service, which has a good reputation for assessing credibility and following standard procedure guidelines, will reduce the incidence of perjury and obstruction of justice, and encourage earlier settlement of chronic conflict cases. It is notable that many high conflict cases include the scenario where one parent is attempting to eliminate all contact with the other parent and the extended family. An effective assessment service would greatly reduce the incidence of high conflict cases and false allegations, characteristics which will multiply if Bill 117 is implemented.
Unless Ontario plans to establish the presumption that all women tell the truth in their statements supporting an Emergency Order, you will definitely run into problems with perjury, perjury which is not frequently met with criminal charges. In Alberta, for example, there have been only two trials for perjury in the past two years, and one domestic violence case where the judge recommended possible charges be investigated against one woman and her mother3. No charges were ever brought in this case, however.
The use of polygraph equipment should be explored where criminal allegations of domestic violence have been made, but have not been reported to the police, and where no substantiating evidence is present to support the claims. I respectfully submit that even were it known that such a procedure were available to a judge, this would dramatically reduce the incidence of perjury in Ontario’s courtrooms.
In summary, the good news is that the Ontario family courts have several strong features, and I would caution this Committee regarding implementing any law which presumes that “women never lie”, for fear that you will destroy the credibility of your system of justice. This presentation will conclude with a review of certain ills, which will only be cured by a pro-active commitment of the Justice system of Ontario to the principles of due process and honest testimony.
The Bad News
This is no war between the rights of men and women, for among the walking wounded of divorce court battles are grandmothers, sisters, aunts and friends of the fathers who are all denied access to the children they love. This is a family affair, not a gender war. A gender war has allowed family law issues to be defined by a battle to choose winners and losers, where resources of the former are gained by taking from the latter.
Right now, the domestic violence lobby has almost overtaken the direction and commitment of resources in the last ten years of family law development in this country. This has created a delusional court that is predicated on the fallacy that all women who make allegations are
3 The writer has provided the case of R v.Ghanem, (1998) ABPC, The Hon. B. Frazer J, under separate cover to the Committee Clerk,for a thorough examination of this false domestic violence charge.