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A Degraded Justice: Ontario’s Bill 117 A License to Perjury Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy

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Parents Helping Parents has noted in its 8 years of case work, that mothers with a history of psychological disorders, as well as histories of eliminating access to prior husbands, and histories of chronic conflict with others, are simultaneously the mothers who are most likely to make false allegations at the onset of separation or divorce proceedings. And while many courts, as Ontario now contemplates, make it easy to make these allegations, they also make it very difficult and expensive to have those allegations reviewed by competent professionals well versed in the assessment of credibility and evidence. This means that it is not uncommon for bad parents to gain the upper hand in divorce proceedings by making false allegations, without concern for any penalties arising from perjury.

In the case study here provided, for example, this mother had been engaged in a high conflict divorce from a previous partner, and lost residential custody to her former husband until she sought counselling for her psychological difficulties. It has been one year since this previous custody order was made, and this mother has made no attempt to initiate access with this child. This is also not uncommon, as we have found that when mothers of this type lose custody, they also lose interest in the child, for they view them as objects to be won or lost rather than small human beings with needs and rights of their own. Bill 117 as contemplated by Ontario will give free reign to these types of women, with no checks or balances built in to the law to protect innocent parties from being falsely accused.

In Manitoba, the need for an emergency or ex parte order has been all but eliminated, by establishing effective courtroom security measures. This includes a quick trip through a metal detector for anyone entering the courthouse, as well as security personnel placed inside the courtrooms where serious allegations of criminal behaviour have been made. After Manitoba’s Civil Justice Review Task Force completed its work and released its final report in 1996, the population was no longer plagued by the constant request for emergency ex parte orders.

May I recommend to the Committee that Bill 117 at least include provisions for child access pending final criminal or family law dispositions of allegations being made. Most fathers are happy to accept supervised conditions until such time. For those Committee members who may be curious about how this particular case turned out, the father of the three year old K has not seen her in five months, even though he was the primary caregiver for her entire life. Parents Helping Parents has initiated a police investigation for perjury in the matter.

Men Don’t Get Hurt

In the early days of our recognition of wife battery, we knew that many women did not report or seek help to leave their violent circumstances. Policy and services grew exponentially to change this problem of under reporting. It is also becoming recognized that domestic violence is perpetrated in fairly equal amounts by women as well, and yet, the problem of men who do not report assaults against them is not defined as a problem by the current justice system.

While a simple push against a woman will result in a charge against a man, only the most serious assaults against men will be taken seriously by the police and the court, if even then. In an unnamed case currently before the court, a young man reported an assault against him

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