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FAS: Judge Schnall Sets Negative Precedent for Family Rights

Date: MAR-04-03
Source: Family Aid Society Update
Keywords: anti-family bias, charter rights violated, families at risk
Posted: MAR-06-03
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Note: Other responses to Schnall's ruling are available from Focus on the Family Canada and

March 4, 2003

Dear Friends,

Families, and especially children, in Ontario need protection from the risk of emotional, physical and financial harm which occurs whenever the Children's Aid Society enters their lives without just cause.

In a document dated February 27 and released March 3, 2003, Judge Schnall has finally given her reasons for ruling that the evidence collected in the June 2002 voir dire trial _is_ admissible in the Aylmer child protection hearing.

Many were hoping this high-profile conflict with the Children's Aid Society (CAS) and the long, stressful waiting would lead to a legal precedent in favour of family rights. Regrettably, in her written reasons Judge Schnall has confirmed suspicions of her bias toward anti-family CAS practices. (If she doesn't work for CAS already, Schnall is admirably qualified to uphold their anti-family ideology.)

Visit Elgin County CAS web site for their March 3, 2003 Press Release. There you can also download a PDF file of Schnall's ruling:

Steve Bailey of Elgin County CAS says he is satisfied that Schnall upheld the actions of the CAS in apprehending the children. He's also pleased that the ruling did not challenge Ontario laws and CAS practices, which allows trampling family rights in favour of so called "child protection."

The press release then describes the status of the Aylmer case: "In terms of next steps, the child protection hearing must be concluded so that the Court can determine whether the children are in need of protection as defined in the provincial Child and Family Services Act. If such a finding is made the Court must determine what further intervention if any, is required to protect the seven children from further harm or risk of harm. Further court dates are scheduled for March 25, 26 and 31."

Schnall's 102 page ruling lists some of the history of the case, the legal positions of the various parties, and her conclusions which suspiciously resemble the position argued by CAS' lawyer, Alfred Mamo in the June 2002 hearings.

In response to the argument that the family's right to life, liberty and security of person (Section 7, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) was unjustly violated in the July 4th, 2001 apprehension, Schnall disagreed. She says that the parents must cooperate to allow the CAS to dig up evidence, that this is in the interest of child protection, and that parent's right to discipline and privacy are trumped by "child protection" law. "Thus, I am of the view that there has been no breach of the parents' section 7 rights that has not been in accordance with the substantive and procedural requirements of the principles of fundamental justice." (Page 41,42)

However, in reaching this ill-considered conclusion, Schnall forgets a number important principles of fundamental justice, such as: the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty; the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure; the existence of reasonable and probable grounds; the existence of compelling, substantiated evidence; and the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned. See "Legal Rights" at

In her reasoning Schnall misses the whole point, which is that the CAS apprehended the children without a warrant when there was no immediate or compelling evidence that the children needed to be protected.

Schnall follows the CAS in berating Pastor Hildebrandt for speaking to the media and defending the family (who were new to Canada and spoke very little English). The bold stand of Pastor Hildebrandt in generating public outrage at the original child apprehension was certainly a significant factor which allowed the children to return to their family home in a record 22 days, while typically it takes six months for children to be returned once apprehended by CAS. In all these proceedings Pastor Hildebrandt has shown concern for the well-being of the children and the family, and he has been actively defending civil freedom in this country. The CAS on the other hand has shown interest only in justifying its groundless and ill-advised child apprehension on July 4, 2001 at great expense the family, taxpayers, and a host of voluntary contributors. What is the CAS's real interest? The well-being of children? Or forcing its humanist ideology on the families of Elgin County?

Schnall's ruling confirms widespread concern that there are serious problems with the child protection laws passed by the Ontario government in 2000. The CAS' general disregard for the integrity of families, and its intolerance toward the culture and lifestyle of Canada's religious and immigrant populations is unacceptable. Coupled with its extended apprehension powers, the threat posed by CAS cannot be ignored any longer. The families of Ontario are at risk until the powers of the CAS are limited. Even then the CAS needs a thorough overhaul of its tactics and attitudes regarding child protection.

The CAS in Ontario should either disband, or embrace a constructive mandate. It must stop arrogantly and disruptively seeking to protect children from all real, imagined and potential harm by removing them from their family home. In this fallen world children will always be at risk, sometimes from parents, sometimes from foster parents, and sometimes from government agencies. In the Aylmer family "child protection" case, it was a government agency which traumatized seven children and their parents, and embroiled them in a costly, stressful legal fight which has already gone on for over a year and a half.

Family Aid Society Notes:

Since last update, I have received a number of stories, and become aware of a number of new cases. A few have been willing to publish their stories on the web site. If you would like to make even an anonymous version of your story public, it would be helpful to gain momentum for CAS reform.

We have opened a bank account so you can make donations which will be used to support families practically. Or if you would like to make a donation directly to help a family defending themselves against CAS in court, ask me and I'll give you a name/address.

Family Aid S

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