Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year 2009 from Edgewater Views!

In following a tradition that started on this day in 2007 ... and continued last year on this same day, may 2009 be the best year yet!

Whether due to serendipity or by coincidence, this young tradition has brought with it many positive results. As belief in it continues to grow, an expectation is set in advance that solidifies subsequent outcomes. For those who believe that one's current mental/emotional state influences results yielded in the future, the sky is the limit again this year...

Edgewater Views was created in 2006 both as a subject of photography and as an outlet for my expressing opinions on various matters of public policy. In the year that followed, thousands of edgewater photographs were taken and over a hundred thousand passionate words were written anonymously under this pseudonym.

Following a series of bizarre circumstances, I woke up one day in 2007 with a greater understanding of life, a powerful shift in attitude, and my very own edgewater view. It is from this domestic vantage point that I was able to create a collection of photographs made up of over a year's worth of photos that share a particular perspective ... a similar water's edge subject - approximately the same time of day - on many different mornings in 2008.

The above photograph is an aerial view taken in July 2008 of the Montreal West Island peninsula that lies in the background of all photographs making up this collection. As a part of the unfolding of 2009, some of the edgewater photographs from this collection will be made available in the form of a story. As such, a new genre of communication - combining both photography and philosophy - has been born.

May your journey through space and time in 2009 positively contribute to the fulfillment of your dreams.

Edgewater Views
January 1, 2009

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year 2008 from Edgewater Views!

In following a tradition set last year at this time at Views from the Water's Edge (and one that elicited many positive results), may 2008 be the best year yet!

Please consider the power of this young tradition from a philosophical perspective: ... that trusting it to be unequivocally so (and allowing it to unfold as such) is possibly the most positive action available to anyone seeking to maximize the chance of it becoming a reality. So for mature souls who can be happy today because they also trust in their future happiness, congratulations in advance for using the unfolding of 2008 to help in making your dreams come true!

Edgewater Views
January 1, 2008

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Do these Provocateurs know something we do not about peaceful vs violent protest?

I too read today the news as it unfolded about the police guarding the Montebello Summit arguably being caught red handed seeking to make peaceful protests into violent ones. Red Tory, who was all over this early in the day, posted this same link to live footage on You Tube of these alleged undercover cops. The video makes it seem they were planning to throw rocks and it shows them being "busted" by peaceful protesters.

Since hanging up my blogger activist shingle recently, I am preferring to consider mostly philosophical interpretations of certain situations rather than simply "as they appear" through conventional analysis. As such, my understanding of what is going on "above" and "below" the surface with respect to this situation differs from what I may have written previously about the police. You may recall that my emphasis would previously have been that the police represent one leg of the tripod called the "justice industry".... yada yada yada.

That is neither here nor there. I mention this really to demonstrate that I am still understanding and able to consider the conventional analysis within this broader philosophical framework. For example, it makes perfect sense that the police would need, possibly desire at many levels some justification to test their rubber bullets and tear gas. I also understand the long term macro interpretation that the police continuingly need to justify their existence by protecting against an "imminent threat" that rears its ugly head sometimes, possibly quite strategically. More specifically, I realise that violent protests justify the "big budgets" that have been spent on security in preparation for the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership. Furthermore, a riot would further justify the symbolic need for there to be a partnership in the first place, right? This is sound conventional analysis.

In considering this same situation and the respective motivations of the parties involved from a very different angle, one could elaborate on the subtleties that make activism (depending upon how it is executed) either a mechanism that can lead to fair change, or something that preserves the status quo. According to quantum science, protests as a part of activism need to be peaceful in order to be effective. Meanwhile protests that escalate to violence will by universal law undermine the very basis of the protest. Stated simply, those being protested against will always have a vested interest in a violent protest, since this is when universal laws make it so they are the least vulnerable to change.

How does this relate to protests staged at Montebello over the last few days in response to the North American Security and Prosperity partnership? Whether one is considering this situation from either conventional or philosophical perspectives, the protesters have a vested interest in being "peaceful", while the police, certain political players and our adversarial institutions have an interest in a protest situation that escalates and news coverage to distribute such images.

Both the footage of the event and the analysis that followed demonstrates that it is not implausible that proponents of enforcement and security would want to “stir it up” at such gathering in Montebello. This is perfectly straight forward and logical. What is less straight forward is the philosophical questions I leave you with here…

1. Are the benefits of a violent protest (ie. police testing toys, justifying their large budgets for security the need for a summit on a security) simply by-products resulting from the stimulation of certain universals laws that are far more precise than that of public opinion?

2. Did this alleged attempt by the police to manipulate the escalation of a peaceful protest into a violent protest backfire because of shifting public opinion or these universal laws?

I realise these questions are literally “the chicken versus the egg”. Nevertheless, where conventional analysis of these Montebello protests were represented by “the chicken”, and the philosophical analysis of this situation were represented “the egg“, any absence of a structured philosophical perspective and broader methodology would typically deny that “the egg“ ever existed.

Whether or not the conventional and philosophical interpretations of this situation express themselves via identical outputs (a backlash against process manipulation), we must weigh the order in which we consider those respective interpretations to be of primary or secondary importance (absolute or open to interpretation). Where some consider conventional analysis to be a matter of interpretation, proponents of the “philosophical lens” would consider their interpretation of this situation to be absolute, due mostly to the absoluteness of the methodology driving the interpretation.

My question in considering also the philosophical interpretation is this: were those behind the “provocateurs” (and with a desire to manipulate the protest) counting more on the possibility of swaying public opinion, or the precision of quantum theory to bring them victory in this situation? Conspiracy theorists want to know!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is Bill Clinton's approach to citizen activism pro-establishment or pro-justice?

Bill Clinton’s new book on citizen activism could define him as either pro-establishment, or possibly far more distinguished, like a Mahatma Gandhi (??) for example. This all depends on the approach he has taken to dealing with this topic.

Clinton’s new book was written by Clinton himself. His approach to this topic could tip the scales as to whether the "philosophical" interpretation of Bill Clinton's commitment to positive change via citizen activism is one that reflects a very common understanding of what is "activism", or something that is much more.

For those who are interested in considering the concept of activism though the lens of quantum physics, violent or adversarial protest to matters of injustice can attract more injustice than justice, and are possibly the strongest form of defence against positive change. Meanwhile, "peaceful" protest tends to generate more peace, positive momentum and resolution. It is at this level of subtlety that most activists do not tend to know.

This was a message not only held by Mahatma Gandhi, many great people through history have long understood that "like attracts like" when it comes to generating societal change. For example, the great psychologist Carl Jung wrote "what you resist persists". Who are these other people? The answer to that question will be dealt with in future articles.

This brings us back to the original question about Clinton. How does he really understand the world and did he write this book while considering methodologies that have defined the belief systems of some of the greatest persons in history? Apart from those who will have early access to his book, the rest of us will have to wait until at least September 4th to know. Even then, the answer to this question will also depend to what extent the public is willing to consider important such subtleties in approach.

Quantum physicians would tend to consider any recommendation by Clinton to proceed with "protests by marches" as being something that services exclusively the establishment ... something that could serve to define his legacy if he wasn't careful. However, if Clinton is shown via this book to have considered the subtleties that distinguish successful forms of protest from those that reinforce the status quo, much more will be known about those methodologies to which Bill Clinton most reverently subscribes. Or still, it may be neither. The other possibility is that this book will only reflect what "Slick Willie" is willing (or permitted) to share with the general public.

Either way, I look forward to reading it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rest in peace my dear friend… you helped me to understand what I should have known all along.

On the 139th birthday of my favourite nation in the world, I am grateful that my Canada Day began at 7:00 am with my paying my last respects in my own way to quite possibly the finest person I have ever known. Because I got to know him late in his life, it is hard to know to what extent he had always been the great person I came to know and to love. Was he always this way? Or, did he continue to grow throughout his life to become the truly exceptional person that I knew him to be in his final years?

These are important questions to ask given that we all need reflect on our own lives from time to time and with humility look at where we have been and where we are going. What is it going to be like when we finally “get there”? Depending upon how you look at it, it is either ironic or serendipitous that the final month of my dear friend’s life was also possibly the period where I experienced in my own life the most learning and positive change. It is easy to repeat mistakes that are familiar to us because of just that … they are familiar. My friend provided the gift of "awareness", which helps to break the familiar links with that which is not emotionally positive.
The good news that in the final days of the life of my dear friend I may have uncovered the most “powerful methodology” I have ever come across in all my travels. The “Laws of Power” haven’t got anything on this stuff, baby.

In a peaceful kind of way, it was only because these were the final days of my friend’s life that I was able to receive possibly the greatest gift ever. With this, anything I set my mind to do is possible. Thank you for that. This “stuff” is similar to that which made the great philanthropist, Walter Russell, experience an awe inspiring life in the previous century. I mention Mr. Walter Russell because …

I now “understand” what Walter Russell was getting at all along …
And, Mr. Russell and my late friend share different parts of the same name.

All in all, both were highly inspirational people who deserve credit in helping me to have the confidence to craft an absolutely perfect life. After all, if one is really inspired by the thought of having a view from the water‘s edge, I assure you it shall manifest.

With that being said, the Edgewater Views’ theme that I have developed since July 2006 at must evolve with the “thinking”. It is possible that making that which is ‘unjust’ just via activism may have been attracting more injustice than justice at the end of the day. This does not mean that governments should be released of their obligation to compel the justice industry to be gender neutral when handling matters of the family. This also does not mean that Justice Marvin Zuker should not be held accountable for not living up to the standards of performance that are needed to maintain the credibility of the judiciary.

However, if the mission at Views from the Water’s Edge is really about blogging to help improve the world, with my recently acquired wisdom brings with it a new approach. In the honour of my late friend (who helped me to understand more in less than one month more than I ever did previously), I retire as a “blogger-activist” as of today.

In the future, my articles at Views from the Water’s Edge will be about creating positive change in a way that is more in line with that of a “blogger-philosopher”.

One last thing you should know about about my dear friend is this … he wasn’t quite as old as Canada, but he was getting there. What made him “Russ” is that he would genuinely appreciate the humour in my having pointed out such an observation. After all, we had a good laugh in February when the last birthday card I had the privilege of giving him made a reference to how very old he would be in “dog years”.

Thank for everything dear friend … I love you. (R.E.C. 1914-2007)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mr. Dion please ask Mr. Harper: where is our political and corporate gender parity?

Has anyone else sought to understand why some very obvious inequities exist in our society? How come women collectively still make less money than men? Why are there so many fewer elected officials who are women than men? Why are the top corporate positions filled overwhelmingly with men more than women?

Quite rightly, measures have been taken at some levels to fix this. Legislation exists to preserve the principle of equal pay for equal work. Some political leaders, like Stephane Dion, are trying to undo this trend: Mr. Dion committed to running more Liberal women candidates in the next federal election (33% to be exact), to increase the percentage of women sitting in the House of Commons. The goal is to one day achieve gender parity.

What is Steven Harper doing to remove barriers for women who would like to serve and deserve to rise to senior political and corporate levels?


My observation about the private sector's role in all of this is also one that I gleaned long before I became one myself. As such, if the decision making attributes of the corporation were measured against the standards that are set for humans in our society, the corporation would be institutionalised because its decision making process is "anti-social". Compassion, empathy and forgiveness would never be tolerated at a board meeting if it took away from the 'sole' purpose of the corporation, which is profit. Charity and giving back to the community etc. (to be accepted by the corporate elite) would need to be ultimately about "marketing the goodwill" of the corporation for ultimate purpose of increased profits – otherwise it could never be justified). Tax write offs via charitable donations and/or the creation of foundations provide only "the illusion" that the corporation can behave in manner we would expect our most noble citizens to live up to.
With that being said, would anyone agree that the corporation has little incentive to on its own promote "gender parity" amongst its top executives, unless this objective could be shown to be either profitable or an effective manner to "market the illusion" of the one’s corporation having admirable human attributes compassion, sensitivity and fairness. Apart from that (or if it were quantifiably more profitable or legislated), is there any incentive for corporations to allow women to reach parity with men in the top corporate positions?

Are there any disincentives? Well, some men who already hold those jobs might feel threatened if access to their positions and closed business networks were made widely accessible to those who might currently considered "outsiders". What about those who feel women are less capable to perform in such positions because of their gender? What about those who believe the best place for women is in the home raising their children? What about those committed to preserving "patriarchy" in spite of the ever more powerful women's movement and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms adopted in 1982.

For those most adamant about preserving patriarchy and the advantages that had been bestowed upon men (at the expense of women in business and politics) by those who founded our great nation, could there a way to institutionalise the preference by some that women are to be primarily in charge of the home and the children while men are in charge of everything else?


When I was a graduate student I spent the better part of term reading and writing papers about feminism. I recall reading Rosemarie Tong's "Feminist Thought: a comprehensive introduction", which helped me to better understand the "big tent" called feminism and appreciate it for what it is worth.

In reading this I understood that most of feminism was about fairness, equality and other universal principles that are consistent with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Tong's premise is that only one branch of feminism, Radical Feminism" is either about blind advocacy, reverse discrimination or possibly "man hating".

The original feminist, recently deceased co-founder of the National Organisation of Women Betty Friedan, split with others in the feminism movement years ago because it was taken over by radicals / and or special interests. Ironically, some of these special interests are groups of both men and women whose objective is either about institutionalising patriarchy and/or giving women outright advantages with respect to their homes, children, marriages - all matters having to do with the family. Please consider that there are also women who are proponents of patriarchy (sometimes euphemised it as chivalry) and would take the key to unlock the door that gives them domestic power even if it means foregoing the key to unlock the door that would give them political or corporate power.

With that being said, the feminist movement is still on many pages when it comes to defining what is equality and which advantages in society the Collective would most like to pursue. This lack of unanimity and polarisation within the feminist movement has left the door open to some - who for the sake of simplicity I will describe as "old boys" - to determine which advantages shall be bestowed onto women and which will not.


To what extent the State should be involved in helping to sort out complex situations affecting lovers, married persons and of children is a topic where there could be much debate. Some persons, such as Pierre Elliot Trudeau, were adamant that the State has no role in the bedrooms of Canadians. This left the door open to modifications in our laws to allow same sex couples to find a legitimate place in our society.

However, the opposite is true with respect to when the State becomes involved matters of the family affecting Canadians who choose to separate or divorce. The State is arguably “way too involved”. Why? It is profitable for the police, the lawyers and the judges – collectively “the justice industry”.

When it comes to shaping our public policy, the “gun” and / or “pharmaceutical” lobbies have got nothing on the “justice lobby”. After all, the “justice lobby” has infiltrated our governance processes including how we formulate our public policy and what it is that we legislate and how. Given who it is who is involved, is it implausible to consider that public policy is sometimes made to also consider of the funding / profit and /or other benefits that would benefit the police, lawyers and judges?

Policing for profit: a gender based approach to domestic violence

We have seen recently corruption with the police at the level of the RCMP with misappropriation of its pension fund monies. We also saw last week a murder – suicide committed by Acting Inspector Kelly Johnson of the London Police, who was responsible for the domestic violence file at that institution, whose whole philosophy in policing is that “men are the aggressors” and “women are the victims”. This is in spite of the fact that these are patriarchal assumptions that are contradicted by a study of 177,000 cases domestic violence cases by Martin S. Fiebert from the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Fiebert examined 196 scholarly investigations, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.

What is the truth? ... and why the spin?

Opportunism by lawyers...

We have seem an entire industry of lawyers change their areas of preferred practice to “ride waves of litigation”. Where insurance became less viable for many with no-fault insurance becoming the norm in parts of the country and changing rules around the laws of tort, family law has become more and more popular and more and more profitable. In the early 1980s, the movie Kramer versus Kramer with Dustin Hoffman and Merryl Streep highlighted the vulnerabilities persons undergoing divorce face personally, financially and with respect to their families. The result, find a good lawyers or else.

In Canada, the State and the adversary system (lawyers, judges and courts) rightly or wrongly become involved in complex family breakdowns where finances and children needed to be shared. Is this the best way for “families in transition” with or without children to resolve their differences? Perhaps such intervention should be restricted to cases where a husband or wife is not “being fair” with respect to finances and / or children and according to “objective criteria”. There are rules that could be applied via mediation of other dispute resolution mechanisms to standardise the outcomes without the need for persons who once loved one another to become entrenched, make decisions out of fear or an adversarial process.

But where would that leave the too many lawyers who compete for too little work?

The Judiciary: loyal to "blind justice" or to the lawyers they once were?

In a common law system, jurisprudence is where judges build upon and use the decisions of other judges to justify future decisions. Current Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella had a progressive career as both an Ontario Supreme Court judge and an Ontario Court of Appeal judge. Two decisions from time when Justice Abella was a rising star judge seem to have led to the justice industry having almost exclusive control over those families who choose to divorce:

1. if either one does not seek independent legal advice when settling a family matter, the Court can overturn that agreement at the request of the plaintiff or the defendant (so you had better get a lawyer).

2. If it can be shown that either party did not do “full financial disclosure” the court can re-open an agreement to re-distribute monies 10 or even 15 years later.

Such jurisprudence forces Canadians to use more the courts in matters of the family, making it expensive financially and emotionally. On the other hand, many persons argue the State has no legitimate role apart from levelling the playing field, especially if these two underlying assumptions are upheld: 1. that it is in the children’s best interest to have meaningful relationships with both parents; 2. that partners in a marriage both have roles and responsibilities with respect to the home, family and children, as well as the finances.


The Court and the adversary process can become inappropriate in matters of the family post charter when certain patriarchal principles drive it. Even though there was a time (way back when patriarchy was accepted and expected) when parents, typically bread-winning men, could leave their families in the lurch following a divorce. That is why laws were created to protect against persons who do not honour their family responsibilities. At that time, the tender year’s doctrine protected the special relationship between mothers and their children.

With the adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, patriarchy was forced underground. At the same time, the appropriateness of "tender year’s doctrine" wore off with the entry of women at equal levels into the workforce, the frequency with which men care for their children while their wives work, the discovery that special relationships also exist between children and their fathers.

So, how can it be that, with all other things being equal, gender is the single most important factor in the determining of child custody in Canada in 2007?

Is it unreasonable to think the main reasons for this are:

1. profits for legal industry;
2. continued corporate and political power for “old boys” who believe the place for women is "in the home" and "with the children"?


Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is all about removing race, religion, language, age, gender etc. from how our policies and laws treat the various issues facing Canadians. If justice is going to be blind, (a fundamental principle of our justice system) merit and need, not gender and/or entitlement needs to be the factor used by judges in determining who receives primary care of their children and who pays support to whom. As such, the role of women “in the home with the children”, as “caregivers not breadwinners” would no longer be forced upon (or taken advantage of) by men and women who choose to divorce by the State.

If the principles of the Charter were treated as a set of standards designed to filter out unacceptable or biased policy and practices, the “justice industry” would not be able to succeed in continuing to deliver a gender biased family law system under the auspices of “keeping justice blind”. Spin, such as the best interest of the child is to be with the mother apart from extra-ordinary situations, could then no longer be used successfully to bypass (veto) the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it comes to matters of the family, which has been a common justification for a really unfair system.

Should 50% of Canadians who divorce be forced into traditional roles as defined by their gender?

Is the world considerably more patriarchal post divorce?

Is life after divorce (i.e. following when one has been trapped by and dealt with by justice industry) very different?

Does the State build in the obligation for men of divorce to support the family by forcing them to be proficient at the level of the corporation?

Does this mean there is less room for women at "corporate clubs", who may have no choice but to stay home or hang out with those who garner less influence?

Would breaking this trend liberate us from institutionalised patriarchy via the justice industry's approach to dealing with matters of the family?


Would such changes to remove “gender” from all decision-making as per the Charter really have an impact on the extent to which women have greater access to political and corporate power? It would certainly stop stereotypes around roles being reinforce by our institutions. It possibly could make "merit" and "need" the most important factors in determining who does what with their lives.

Are all issues women’s issues? What about men’s issues? These are polarizing terms. If all issues were people issues, would it not be more about who chooses to play what roles as they positively contribute to our society?

Proponents of patriarchy as well as those who ‘profit’ from patriarchy in our society may not like this type of thinking. However, if we are going to live in a fair and just society, we cannot pick and choose what to favour and what to reject depending upon how it affects us personally. The tendency some of us have to try to manipulate processes under the aupicies of a fair and equitable system is where it all breaks down

The methodology we have adopted, legislated and are collectively proud of as Canadians is our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Why don’t we apply it fairly and universally and trust it will be to our advantage collectively and individually as Canadians?

Brothers, Sisters and Children, Happy Father’s Day 2007.

Edgewater Views.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Harper’s Failed Agenda: Murder / Suicide by police exposes spin and deception.

By now, many of you have heard the terrible story about the two police officers from London (Ontario) who were found dead in a van this week. It turns out the deaths were the result of a murder / suicide between two police lovers who worked with one another at the London Police Department.

The alleged murderer was Acting Insp. (Mrs.) Kelly Johnson, 40, a passenger in a vehicle driven by her former superior and lover, superintendent (Mr.) David Lucio, 57. It appears that Mrs. Johnson shot Mr. Lucia dead via a single bullet to his temple before she turned the gun on to herself. The van Mr. Lucia was driving then crashed into Mrs. Johnson’s apartment. Both police officers were found dead inside the van.

Acting Insp. Johnson had attained the highest rank of any female officer in the force. She was set next week to assume the position of inspector. She served for several years as the detective sergeant in charge of the sexual assault and child abuse section and supervised the force's domestic violence co-ordinator.

How can this be?

Even though she had seemingly gained the respect of many in the “anti-violence” community, it appears that it was known within the force that Acting Insp. Johnson had some issues of her own. She had multiple previous sexual relationships with her male colleagues at the London Police Department. She married and later separated from fellow London police officer, Steve Pearson. One account following the incident suggested Mrs. Johnson had been known to be “controlling and abusive” in her intimate relationships. Another suggested that she had used her gender and “sex appeal” to rise through the ranks of the London Police Department.

I quote Alfred William Watson from New Brunswick who wrote the following letter to the editor to the London Free Press site on Friday June 9th 2007.

“A married female officer was having a sexual affair with a married male officer. The female officer had risen quickly through the ranks, obviously too quickly, and was about to replace her retiring husband as a senior officer. The same female officer was sexually involved with an even more senior, married officer. Sleeping her way to the top as it were. All the participants in this incestuous police charade were heavily armed and had unrestricted access to restricted firearms.”
What did the Police Chief and “anti violence community” say?

In spite of eye witness accounts and some very strong evidence suggesting that Mrs. Johnson was the murderer, London Police Chief Murray Faulkner has been reluctant this week to assign blame his domestic violence protégé for the incident. Is this all the police chief could say to avoid “eating crow” in front of his community? In 2006 Chief Faulkner was quoted as suggesting that domestic violence is a gender problem directly attributable to men.

"The problem here is gender. The problem here is men,” Faulkner told a crowd gathered at city hall. “What is it to be a man in our society? We need to approach this as a gender violence (and) a man’s issue. We need to have some frank conversations, man-on-man ..." "The vast majority of us, who are not involved in these violent acts, need to stand up to these other guys and say, "Listen' this isn't what a man's about. Don't remain silent. That's the worst thing to do." ~ London Ontario Police Chief, Murray Faulkner, at a news conference in 2006 to launch the Mayor's Task Force to End Women Abuse.

Assistant Inspector Johnson was also well known by Ms. Megan Walker, Head of the London women's abuse shelter; facilitating the lodging of victims at the shelter was a part Inspector Johnson's role as the Head of domestic violence at the London Police. Ms. Walker’s job exists as a result of the funding allocated to protect against domestic violence. Given that London has no comparable shelters for battered men (due to an absence of advocacy funding for men like there is for women), she benefits from the “men are the abusers” approach to domestic violence taken by the London Police Department. When asked about the murder / suicide she said this: "It's just a great personal tragedy for both families, friends and loved ones and anyone who worked with either one of them," Is it suprising she is very neutral in her comments about this particular incident?

Is domestic violence really a gender issue or simply a people issue?

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is all about removing race, religion, age, gender etc. from how our policies and laws treat the various issues facing Canadians. Yet, some of our police, politicians, governments (led by advocacy lobbies) insist that men are the problem when it comes to domestic violence. What is the truth?

In January I wrote the following (check out the link to see for yourself, please):

“There is considerable proof that the generalisation that "men are aggressors and breadwinners" and "women are victims and caregivers" is simply incorrect. For example, Martin S. Fiebert from the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach examined 196 scholarly investigations, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the studies reviewed by Dr. Fiebert in helping him to conclude this exceeds 177,100.”
Then, why is it there are shelters for women and not for men? Why is the common policy by the police seems often to be about automatically assuming that “men are the perpetrators of domestic violence”, even if unsupported allegations are the sole source of information leading to an arrest. Why is there not another measure to navigate through a “he-said, she-said” situation than assuming that men are the aggressors and women are the victims?

Is this not really about using a “cookie cutter” to sort out complex family situations? If one gender is given the benefit of the doubt in such situations, where is the accountability to ensure that false allegations are not used as a matter of control? What if persons use this bias to create an advantage in case of divorce? What if this enables an emotional and / or physical abuser to continue abusing because their gender makes it so they will not be held to account by the State?

Does gender bias serve “justice industry”: police, lawyers and the judges?

Is all about Stephen Harper's "law and order agenda"? Or, is it bigger than that?

For those of you who have read my articles in the past, I am a very big proponent of finding remedies to gender inequalities that have affected women over the course of history. My 94 year old grandmother was not considered a “person” when she was born, and her Canadian sisters could not vote. I also recognise that many of these same gender inequalities continue to affect women in 2007. Women are not yet equal to men when it comes to pay or the top corporate positions. Women also represent a strikingly low percentage of elected members to the House of Commons.

I consider these facts to be travesties of our society. Why do some still exist now? Many “old boys” would not want to give up the advantages that had been bestowed upon them by their forefathers when they were faced with the women’s movement and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, especially when it comes to corporate and political power. Would it still be possible post Charter to preserve the hierarchies and principles of patriarchy?

If I were an old boy, one plausible remedy would be to “throw the women’s movement a bone” when it comes to having an advantage when it comes to matters of the family, divorce and domestic violence. If executed correctly, this could delay in perpetuity the pressing need to give up both corporate and political power, since much publicity elsewhere would distract from where the real problems lie for women in our society … and all one would have to do would be to sacrifice those men in our society who are vulnerable to divorce. In so doing, the “justice industry”, meaning the police, lawyers and judges can all profit from shifting power structures. This institution could conceivably be largely supported financially by a gender biased system, while allowing patriarchy to live on in our institutions and in our society.

If accepted by the women's movement and society at large, there would be the political impetus and pressure to design and implement family policy around the assumption that "men are the aggressors and the breadwinners" and "women are the victims and the caregivers". Would such policy foundations that are taken advantage of by both men and women not insitutionalise patriarchy post Charter? For women, is accepting this seeming advantage in matter of the family not a deal with the devil for those who yearn for equality and true gender parity?

Is advocacy funding part of the problem?

One obvious question is whether those who use advocacy monies to lobby governments, politicians and policy makers and influence the public via publicity are intending to promote patriarchy? An even better question is whether those who administer the distribution of advocacy monies willfully use it as an instrument to promote patriarchy?

I have five more questions that raise for me a doubt about the motives behind the law and order and justice agenda when it comes to family policy and domestic violence:

1. does an advantage for women on matters of the family, including domestic violence, insitutionalise women to come second in maters involving corporate and political power?
2. Does advocacy funding indirectly preserve this hierarchy in perpetuity?
3. Are advocacy monies responsible for creating a disadvantage for women outside of the home?
4. Do women who are seeking promotion and prominent careers still have to resort to "sex appeal" like some are now saying Kelly Johnson chose to do? This is even though she was still the highest ranking police woman in London, did the old boys make it that way by institutionalising patriarchy (a glass ceiling) and distributing the "pork" to those who sell out?
5. What about merit for talented women who deserve promotion who would in a pure and "free market" system represent 50% of top corporate positions and 50% of top political posititons?

Or, I would hate to think that anyone would say that women are less capable to lead corporately and politically. Affirmative action created a similar backlash in the United States that has kept some persons assuming that minorities and women were promoted for the wrong reasons.

In December 2006 I wrote:

The bottom line is that advocacy funding is only legal under the Charter if it does not put the rights of one gender ahead of the other. Therefore, it is inappropriate for these funds to flow to organizations who seek to delay further changes to the federal Divorce Act. All funding should meet the gender neutral standard demanded by the application of Canada's Charter principles.Some funding by the Status of Women has been paid to lobbies who seek to delay changes to the Divorce Act, especially since 1998, when a federal report recommended changes that would ultimately make "access" as much of a priority as "child support" in Canadian law and would arguably stop the unilateral flow of child support from men to women. The current situation has been preserved in part via advocacy funding. This is simply inappropriate due to its patriarchy.
I also wrote at that time:

In Canada, where Harper's conservatives have reopened the debate, it is essential that Liberals encourage the government either restrict the flow of advocacy funds to those organisations promoting gender discrimination, or fund men's groups who seek to change the Divorce Act for the sake of children, men, women and second families. Perhaps western democracies who make advocacy funding available to organizations that seek to make gains at the expense of the other gender should listen less to highly organized pitches and politics by certain lobbies and focus instead on the objective criteria of gender equality. Fairness would suggest that either advocacy funding must be made available to those seeking to make access a priority in family policy or restrictions on inappropriate gender funding are needed.


I hate to have to piggy-back on an absolute tragedy to demonstrate the problems that exist in our society with respect to which gender has the current advantage when it comes to matters of the family and who ultimately benefits from gender biased approaches to interpreting domestic violence. All I want anyone to take from this article is this:

  1. Violence is a people issue not a gender issue.
  2. Decisions about who sees their children should be made on the basis of merit not gender.
  3. Family policy is set and continues to benefit Canada’s police, lawyers and judiciary and continues to hurt men, women, children from both first and second families.
  4. In the meantime, women lack the corporate, institutional and political power they deserve in a fair and just society because the old boy’s well guarded solution to finding remedies to historical gender inequities lies once again at the level of the family, which furthers the patriarchy.
In a truly just society with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, men would not be absent of power in their home and in relation to their children and women would not be absent of power when it comes to pay, promotion or political representation.

Brothers and sisters, we should all be on the same page here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Republicans distance themsleves from liberal values ... and Bush too

With my being in the Desertville, USA this week, I have caught more political news about America than about Canada. While I look forward to catching up shortly, this presents a good opportunity for me to both report on what I have gleaned is the current political mood here, as well as a way for me to try my remote blogger feature.

What I noticed in watching the Rebublican debates on TV last night was this: there were some very interesting differences (and similarities) in how some of the candidates were choosing to re-position the Republican ideology and build upon past successes. Interestingly, these successes do not seem to include anything done by Bush's current adminsitration. More on that after.

Some lesser known candidates were firing off bold ideas about restricting immigration and linking the right to become an American by the extent to which 'new Americans' were willing to set aside their heritage and buy into the 'melting pot.

Others, like Rudy Guliani and John McCain were applying well developed methodologies to give depth to their answers. For example, Rudy Guliani spoke about the principles of Abraham Lincoln to describe who is most deserving of becoming an American - those who believe in freedom and liberty yada yada yada..

John McCain, who is a senator from Arizona, gave credit to Hispanic Americans for their contribution to America, and their devotion to American values, and their willingness to risk their lives to fight for American values (at least those who are legal he was careful to say).

The sole point of commonality by all the prospective candidates was the extent to which all chose to distance themelves from George W. Bush and the current administration. Bush was literally 'thrown under the bus' by his Republican colleagues.

Is this the final 'nail in the coffin' in further foreshadowing what shall be a very weak legacy by the younger Bush indeed?

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Accountability missing for an Ontario judge ... even though he edited the record

Even though judicial appointments are for life and in spite of the fact there is no real accountability for "subtle" misconduct, there is accountability for those judges who blatantly break the rules ... at least in theory. Unfortunately, it seems an Ontario Family Court judge is not being held to the same standards as others for whatever reason.

The Toronto Star reports today that Justice Marvin Zuker acknowledged he committed judicial misconduct when he altered court transcripts in 2005, after learning they were to be used in an appeal case. Because of his "clean" record Justice Zuker was let off with a warning even though the panel reviewing the case could have ordered the removal of Zuker from the bench.

While I appreciate the principle of "forgiveness" especially when persons who have done wrong take responsibility, judges need to be held to higher "standards". This is especially when they demonstrate that they can be motivated for self interested reasons to break fundamental rules upon which depends our justice system and our society at large.

This is especially so because there already exists a lack of any accountability on the basis of decisions by judges, especially those preceding over the the family court. Arguably, many family court judges violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms everyday by making decisions about child custody on the basis of gender rather than merit.

It is important to consider in all of this that judges are typically political appointees and former lawyers, some of whom hold their allegiances to the legal industry in higher regard than to the principles of equitability and justice. And, all of this occurs in a society where the State offers the same discretion and trust to judges that Plato might only have offered to his philosopher kings. The Guardians' innate ability to be solely about "the collective interest" makes proponents of our current judicial system look naive or perhaps manipulative. As evidenced here, our judicial appointees are not at all living up to the level of altruism that would need to be in place to warrant such little accountability.

Whether the panel made the right decision here or not, I leave that up to others to decide. From my perspective, this case does highlight once again the extent there is inadequate accountability for judges, especially when it comes to conduct that would typically result in a much more severe rebuke for anyone else in our society.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Self preservation or the right thing to do? Senators block term limitations.

In a move that could be viewed as self-preservation, certain senators postponed again the passing of a bill that would limit Senate terms to eight years.

Stephane Dion supports term limitations for Senators. However, his plan would limit such Senate term limits to 12 years. This position by the Liberal Leader distances the new Liberal Party from certain mostly Liberal Senators who could be seen to be most concerned with their own career security given another bill proposing an elected senate that is on the table. Nevertheless, Dion's Liberals continue to oppose a separate Conservative bill proposing the election of senators.

In a bizarre and kind of ironic move, Stephen Harper intends to appoint his first so-called elected senator, Bert Brown, a Conservative, to replace retiring Liberal Senator Dan Hayes.

So let me get this straight: this is still a partisan move by Harper and it is still an appointment. The only difference is that Brown, a farmer from Kathyrn, Alta., once ploughed the message "Triple-E Senate or Else" into a barley field and was "elected" in a unilateral and un-recognised electoral process that has been taking place in Alberta since 1989. The first elected senator was appointed in 1990 by then-Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney. Mulroney appointed Stan Waters, the first elected Senate nominee in Canada.

Is this Stephen Harper's latest move to institutionalise conservatism in Canada? By again demonstrating a preference for optics over substance, Harper's government continues to be mostly about tactics and process manipulation. Could anyone tell me where or how this continuing 'dodgy' manoeuvring demonstrates any leadership by the current Prime Minister?

Friday, April 27, 2007

While I like the Liberal radio ads ... the gender discriminatory one needs to go

Just as I decided I was going to recharge my blogger batteries for a few days while in the mountains, I caught one of the new Liberal radio ads in the car.

This ad went sort of like this ..."Many single parent families live in poverty and eighty percent of single parent families are led by women. While Stephen Harper does nothing, what more would Stephane Dion do about this?..." or something like that.

I appreciate the Leader's office trying to put distance between Stephen Harper's performance on social policy compared to Stephane Dion's vision. I also appreciate these ads seek to court the women's vote.

What I don't appreciate is the fact that the Liberal party's strategists are choosing to continue to use stereotypes about matters of the family inappropriately, much like they did during Mr. Chrétien’s and Mr. Martin's terms as prime minister.

Once and for all, all issues are people issues. When gender is used as a distinguishing feature, there is an increasing possibility that any issue might violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when considered carefully. Why touch it?

For example, rightly or wrongly (and in spite of the Charter), gender is still single most important factor used by judges to determine which parent can have custody of their children and which parent cannot, barring extraordinary circumstances. This is also in spite of tragedies involving children that show that some parents to be unfit, in spite of their gender.

This failure to consider that gender discrimination against men in Canadian family courts (not indifference or belligerence by parents of the male variety) is why 80% of single parent families are led by mothers.

Perhaps those trying to differentiate Dion and the new Liberal party from Harper's Conservatives should come up with a new angle on matters of the family that does not habitually violate the Charter of Right's and Freedoms pending interpretive spin that makes "the best interests of children congruent with the preferences of the mother". This is a poorly considered genderalisation that may give credence to gender biased judicial decisions on the surface, but also dangerously makes gender preferences by judges trump basic human rights. And, I dare to say, much to my chagrin, that many judges who most blatantly allow gender to dictate who can be with their children and who cannot are Liberal appointees.

Perhaps those responsible could refrain from putting out the same old garbage with respect to family policy that continues to haunt the legacies of M. Chrétien and Mr. Martin. This is at least the case in the eyes of Liberals who believe in fairness and equality, many of whom happen to be Liberal children of divorce, men, women, second families and children of second families.

I am certain M. Dion is not aware of how this ad could offend many Liberals, especially since he made a point of committing to putting all Liberal policy through "gender sensitive" filter as a part of his policy to increase female representation in the House of Commons. This also must apply to policies that may negatively affect men.

Bad policy is bad policy, and the Party is fortunate to have navigated through its poor record on the issue so far. Those positioning this should be more careful not to bring back this tainted baggage.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Judges ... more proof we all put our pants on one leg at a time.

I read this article on the CBC site. It describes both an (ex) judge and prosecutor in Colorado who have shown themselves to be human, rather than the absolutely benevolent persons the system relies on them being given existing accountability structures (or an absence of adequate accountability structures)

Since jurisdictions south of the boarder make lawyers judges in a slightly different way than in Canada, I take from this that improvements in how judges are chosen and are held accountable is a more universal phenomenon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Déjà vu ...odd timing and reason for fraud charges against a Liberal in Niagara.

I was as shocked as anyone to hear about the charges against James Curran. The Niagara Falls review (and reports today that fellow Liberal Jim Curran has withdrawn from seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Niagara Falls because of the charge of “cheque kiting”. This is apparently the practice of writing a cheque from one bank account to cover off another cheque from another bank account. There is a law against this.

To offer the benefit of the doubt for a minute to Curran, a fellow blogger, (who is quoted as expecting to be fully vindicated in this matter), business people who do deals especially in real estate need to juggle monies between accounts all the time. If the timing of the clearance of one cheque does not match the other, a mistake or simple misfortune could be construed as “cheque-kiting”, especially if there are those who want to interpret it that way. The level of deliberateness would make this either fraud or not.

Whether there is any merit in these charges, it is too early to tell. However, it is clear the timing of these charges is particularly bad – or good – depending upon one’s political stripes. Healthy skeptics might see a parallel with the timing of these charges (following an alleged two month investigation) and last year’s RCMP investigation into alleged leaks by Liberal government officials into rule changes for income trusts during the last federal election. Although any connection between these leaks and any Liberal government officials were disproved shortly thereafter, the publicity created by an RCMP investigation during an election campaign seemed to break the “stalemate” in the polls between the Liberals and the Conservatives that had existed since day one of the campaign to the favour of the Conservatives.

When all Liberal government officials were exonerated earlier this year, there were questions about whether the Conservative Party’s “Law and Order” agenda played any part in the decision to investigate such a thing during a federal election. The RCMP and its senior officials have been under fire for other matters ever since.

In the case of Jim Curran, the dynamics are both similar and different at the same time. The police force involved in his investigation is the Niagara Regional Police. Politically, who benefits from the removal of a Liberal threat in the federal riding of Niagara? It is pretty clear that the primary beneficiary is current Conservative MP, Justice Minister and Attorney General, Rob Nicholson. And, the Conservatives took the opportunity to try to use this against the Liberals in Question Period today. Rightly or wrongly, Minister Nicholson needs not worry quite as much about retaining his riding in Niagara in the next election today - as much as he did yesterday – given that his biggest political threat has been neutralized. And, the CPC is trying to milk this too as a tactic or perhaps a distraction from them falling in the polls as of yesterday.

Like the “income trust” investigation during the last election, I find it amazing how convenient this whole thing is for Nicholson and the Conservative Party. And, as a secondary benefit, perhaps this also takes the heat off Michael Fortier’s personal $400 million scandal as Public Works Minister a little bit. I look forward to reading the results of a fair and balanced investigation, even though I lament that Jim Curran’s political career is in jeopardy as a by-product in the meantime. Que bono?

Monday, April 09, 2007

2/3 of Canadians want elected judges: judiciary/lawyers call it a bad idea.

I read earlier today the results of a Strategic Counsel poll suggesting that 2/3 of Canadians favour elected judges. It did not surprise me that both Canada's legal industry and the judiciary immediately came out with reasons as to why this is a very bad idea.

The Globe and Mail reports that Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry said in an interview that he couldn't see how impartiality could be maintained in a system of elected judges: “it could really destroy the very best traditions of an independent judiciary. I think it would be a tragic initiative for the administration of justice.”

I also read Devin's blog today from the roll ... should I be surprised (since we agree to disagree on this subject) that he would support Chief Justice McMurtry's angle by posting the blog title: "Keep Justice Blind"?
Even the Conservative Party has stopped calling for elected judges now that they are in power, in spite of its previous concerns about the power of judges in Canada. Former federal justice minister Vic Toews said last year: “That's just not our tradition…I actually think our system is pretty good. It just needs to be fixed.” This is very convenient for a party led by a man whose private objective is no less than reforming the ideology of Canadians via massive decentralisation and institutionalised conservatism.

I find it alarming that those with the most to lose from judicial reform frame this sign of discontent by Canadians with our (arguably) unaccountable system of judicial appointments in such a narrow/fear based manner. Would anyone expect lawyers and judges to say anything against the "love in" between lawyers and judges? Among other things, our current system acts as if judicial appointees are like Plato’s Guardians and beyond self-interest. Our judges are appointed by the political party in power, they are appointed for life and they are not accountable to anyone. The only way to remove a judge from the bench is with the agreement of the Governor General, Parliament and the Senate and this has never been attempted. Does this not sound like a blank cheque?

Furthermore, this unprecedented power gives Supreme Court Justices in particular in essence a "veto" as strong or stronger than the notwithstanding clause on matters of Canadian public policy via strategic jurisprudence. When the by-product of specific jurisprudence can provides a marked boost to revenues collectable by the legal industry, there is reason for concern. After all, our judges all began their careers as lawyers and have been known to make controversial decisions that benefit their “brethren“ sometimes more obviously than others.

As a means of demonstrating just how “on the mark” are the instincts of many Canadians on this topic - who know there is a problem with a lack of accountability but do not know exactly what is the solution - I republish gender the discrimination ratings of 22 Ontario Court of Appeal Justices over 10 years (1996-2006). More than 800 cases were reviewed to determine the results. The methodology of the study is explained here and here:
D = % Female Wins - % Male Wins, Discrimination count, Category (or extent gender was a factor in judicial decisions on matters pertaining to the family)
For Abella JA D = 76.5 - 6.4 = 70.1 % (heavy)
For Feldman JA D = 72.7 - 13.3 = 59.4 % (heavy/high)
For Charron JA D = 70.0 - 7.4 = 62.6 % (heavy)
For Simmons JA D = 80.0 - 23.8 = 56.2 % (high)
For Lang JA D = 50.0 - 0 = 50.0 % (high)
For Wheiler JA D = 77.8 - 26.1 = 51.7 % (high)
For McMurtry CJO D = 69.9 - 40.0 = 29.1 % (moderate/high)
For O’Connor DCJO D= 80.0 - 30.0 = 50.0 % (high)
For Goudge JA D = 77.8 - 39.1 = 38.7% (high)
For Borins JA D = 70.0 - 27.3 = 42.7 % (high)
For Rosenburg JA D = 71.4 - 33.3 = 38.1 % (high)
For Armstrong JA D = 66.7 - 26.3 = 40.4 % (high)
For Moldaver JA D = 52.6 - 6.7 = 45.9 % (high)
For Macpherson JA D = 62.5 - 14.3 = 48.2 % (high)
For Gillese JA D = 85.7 - 50.0 = 35.7 % (high)
For Juriasz JA D = 60.0 - 0.0 = 60.0 % (high/heavy)
For Blair JA D = 50.0 - 9.1 = 41.9 % (high)
For Cronk JA D = 66.7 - 42.1 = 24.6 % (moderate)
For Sharpe JA D = 33.3 - 11.7 = 21.3 % (moderate)
For Catzman JA D = 63.6 - 43.7 = 19.9 % (moderate)
For Labrosse JA D = 61.5 - 45.0 = 16.5 % (moderate)
For Laskin JA D = 55.5 - 47.0 = 8.5 % (slight)
The data show that Justice McMurtry himself was rated as favouring female litigants close to one-third of the time more often than male litigants on matters pertaining to the family.
That is neither here nor there. What is of most concern here? The two worst offenders according to the study,- Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron - now sit on the Supreme Court of Canada. Because of the current structure, does this not mean that Justice Abella and Justice Charron are two of the most powerful Canadians when it comes to shaping our public policy? ... stronger than Parliament both collectively and individually?
It seems Canadians are perhaps "right on the mark" when it comes to our being uncomfortable - sniffing out - matters that lack sufficient accountability, such as this. After all, would any of us really buy the argument that any of our Justices have "philosopher-king" like attributes that makes accountability unnecessary? Or, would anyone dare say the adversary system, rules and procedure keeps judicial decision making perfectly in check?
Canadians know there are problems with the current system of judicial appointments. If a poll is worded so that Canadians understand "elected" to be perfectly congruent with "accountable", the framing of this proposed solution by Justice McMurtry, Devin and Vic Toews as having similar baggage to that of the American system sounds like spin to me. There are many ways to make our judiciary more accountable without any drastic risks. It just takes political will and courage to stand up to those who benefit from the status quo.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Private Member's Bill to fix the Divorce Act carries: more work is required...

Anyone observing the happenings in the House of Commons between 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm today might have observed something entirely rare: it seems a Private Member's Bill, c-252 to amend the Divorce Act: access for spouse who is terminally ill or in critical condition, passed unanimously. If I counted correctly while watching the vote, all Liberals, NDP, Bloc and Conservatives, voted in favour of the Bill.

The Bill goes like this: "a former spouse's terminal illness or critical condition shall be considered a change of circumstances of the child of the marriage, and the court shall then ensure that the former spouse is granted access to the child as long as it is consistent with the best interests of that child."

The Bill was motivated by a mother in Alberta who had lost custody of her children and who was being denied access to her children by her ex-husband. The mother, who also had terminal leukemia, had wanted to reconnect with her children before her death. Sadly, this did not happen and she was unable to reconcile with her children, who will likely be affected emotionally for not having been able to make peace with their mother before her death.

The Bill went through 7 reports by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights Committee who amended the bill to consider the "best interests of children". The Bill also passed three readings in Parliament.

This is a good start, however, many more changes to the Divorce Act are required. At the end of the day the federal government must protect children's rights to have meaningful access to both parents, whether one parent is terminally ill or not. Children are best served by having meaningful access to both of their parents, except in rare cases. In spite of this, there is no federal policy preserving this right, and no affordable, accessible, timely or non-litigious way of resolving situations of parent-child access denial, even if the reasons for the access denial are entirely frivolous.

This case is the extreme exception and not the rule: more women deny their ex-husband access to their children than the other way around - though the decision to deny access or not is never a gender issue - it is a people issue. The spin sometimes suggests otherwise, but don't be fooled. This is because 25 years after the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (made it illegal to discriminate on issues of gender) gender is still the single most important factor in determining who will retain custody of children in cases of divorce. As a consequence, this also determines who pays child support to whom, making child support yet another gender based transfer payment, regardless of need and the relative incomes of the parents involved.

Therefore, a small number of a large percentage of women who have custody of their children deny access, while a smaller number of a (much) smaller percentage of men who have custody do the same thing. While both men and women sometimes deny access because of their character (rather than their gender), women have more opportunity because JUDGES preceding over the family court make gender congruent still with the best interests of children of divorce.

Why are matters of the family not subject to the standards set by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Do judges have an obligation to upphold Charter principles in relation to all adjudicated decisions or does the "tender years doctrine" trump individual rights? This collective interpretation by the judiciary of where the Charter applies and where it does not, as a byproduct, keeps lawyers in lots of work, the "blind advocates" at bay and monies flowing from men to women. Gender rather than character is the determining factor, which does not make the cut with respect to the standards set by the Charter, no matter how you slice it.

This Bill opens the door to fixing the Divorce Act that had been suggested without action by federal reports in 1998 and 2002. More equitable federal policy on child / parent relationships will put the onus on the provinces to live up to such standards and apply family policy through the provincial courts in a gender sensitive manner. This could also neutralise the dangerous trend that has resulted the highest court in our land setting family policy that coincidentally (or not) has made the practice of family law more profitable by the way it rules on matters of the family.

Unfortunately, "blind advocates” seem want to spin this tragedy into a "men victimising women issue" on a child access issues. For those who work in the system or who have lived through a divorce, especially where children are involved, they would admit that the trend actually goes the other way ( if they were being perfectly honest) .

Women have a clear advantage when it comes to matters of the family. Because there is no place to consider gender so acutely in a just Canadian society, "blind advocacy", like the "boy who cries wolf", has no credibility. Furthermore, "blind advocacy" on this issue is dated and now comes off as pure “spin”. All issues are people issues ... in contrast gender should never be the distinguishing feature in a society with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

So, in the spirit of fairness and equality, I re-publish a strong Liberal contribution to fixing the issue of child -parent assess. The Resolution on the Rights of Children to have Meaningful Access to both Parents, is gender neutral and was passed by the Lac Saint Louis Federal Liberal Riding Association and unanimously by the Quebec Liberal Women’s Commission in November 2005:

Resolution on the Right of the Child to Have Meaningful Access to Both Parents

Whereas the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that children should have access to family members;

Whereas it is in the best interest of the child to have access to and strong relationships with both parents;

Whereas the federal government has not implemented policy that is in the best interest of the child or the blended family, despite reports in 1998 and 2002;

Whereas non-residential parents can be unilaterally and with no involvement of a higher authority denied access to their children without adequate, timely or accessible remedies.

Whereas the federal government had prioritized child support and remains inactive on child access;

Whereas children and their non-residential families stagnate under lopsided policy priorities;

Whereas the provinces administer and interpret the federal Divorce Act, with long delays and inadequate remedies to child access issues that hurt child-parent relationships;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to implement policy prioritizing access and protecting the rights of children to have access to both parents.

be it further resolved that the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to implement policy giving equal weight to relationship support between parents and children as to financial support.

be it further resolved that the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to create standards and legislation to support provincial and territorial governments in the enforcement of child access similar to those set up previously to support the enforcement of child support.

As long as special interests do not get in the way - and block equitable change on this issue like they did after federal reports in 1998 and 2002 - we may actually get somewhere now. After all, the political will is an invaluable asset when it comes to making fair change.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Could bad policy help bring down an Ontario Minister in her own riding?

It seems the Government of Ontario is spinning faster than ever via a strategically timed communications strategy. This campaign is an attempt by the government to offset a possible "political lemon" and "minefield" in an election year - except when it comes to special interests.

Recent policy by the Government of Ontario has shown how it is possibly ignorant, opportunistic and/or highly influenced by special interests. The reasons why the Ontario Liberals screwed up are published here and here and at Views from the Water's Edge on Saturday and in January when the latest enforcement policy was announced. Premier Dalton McGinty and persons at the Government of Ontario now understand why this recent policy is both short-sighted and gender discriminatory. At the very least, it will go down in history as some very bad policy. Why don't we get tough on crime and possibly start a war while we are at it?

Rather than taking responsibility or taking measures to account for the shortcomings in its policy, the Ontario Liberal government instead came out today with more spin promptly reported on by CTV, which claims Ontario's policy to post the pictures of "deadbeat dads" on the internet has been successful so far in "shaming" 5 dads into paying up.

Claims of success six weeks after launching the controversial website is absolutely premature. No qualitative or quantitative exercise could acurately claim to measure and correctly interpret these 5 results, let alone correctly give credit to one policy action over another so soon after this website's implementation. What about coincidence especially with a sample of only 5. How many dads pay up in a slow month?

Is the release of this information in such a vague way before there is an appropriate sample or any acurate way of assessing the results a sign of panic by Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur? Was this a convenient coincidence for Minister Meilleur that needed to be promoted now? I challenge Minister Meilleur to be more specific about who are these 5 dads and how a six-week old website contributed to them “paying up”.

Should Canadians believe that the “Good Parents Pay” website has been successful in motivating those who owe support to pay? What about those other very intrusive enforcement mechanisms that will kick in first and must fail before the website is an option. These include (in the order in which they come into effect): the garnishing of wages, the garnishing of bank accounts, the removal of drivers licences, and 120 days non-payers will spend in jail.

Minister Meilleur, did any of these 5 persons report their lives were ruined by the website, while the hand of “big brother” in their affairs and 120 days in jail were not equally motivating? I also did not see any pictures of women on the site. Is this because all "good mothers pay" already”, or not? Meanwhile, Minister Madeleine Meilleur is now acting like a Conservative and it seems she is hunting for "cheap political points" in an election year by promoting even more child support enforcement than necessary or reponsible.

This is in spite of best practices in family policy that show a relationship between fathers who see their children and fathers who pay their child support voluntarily. In the meantime, out of either ignorance or belligerence, the Minister has missed opportunities to create policy that would to seek to collect otherwise uncollectible child support by working with the Attorney General's Department to preserve the rights of children and their non-custodial parents to have meaningful access with one another.

Organised groups who are proponent of policy that would make child-parent access a fundamental right, are currently planning to hold the Minister accountable in her home riding of Ottawa-Vanier in the time leading up to the upcoming Ontario election. Inter-provincial forces are planning to set up in her riding and concentrate their efforts to topple Minister Meilleur as an MPP with campaign made up of local publicity, information that will be distrubuted to every consituent and a door to door campaign and daily rally/protests in the Ottawa-Vanier riding to help elect anyone but Madeleine Meilleur. More on this later...

For today, I leave you with an excerpt from a very thoughtful article written by family law lawyer © 2005 Karen Selick which is published here on her website and previously in the February 2005 edition of Canadian Lawyer under the title: the Politics of Child Support. She calls this iteration “Demonizing Deadbeat Dads”:

…So far, it appears that the only purpose was to score points with voters by appearing to do something—anything—to benefit children. However, the benefits
are nebulous.

…The statistics that might really have been useful were missing: for instance, whether case loads and compliance have been affected by the major policy changes of May, 1997—i.e., the introduction of the child support guidelines and the abolition of tax deductions for support payments. As a family law practitioner, I believe these changes greatly increased the net cost for most payers. Is this more onerous burden reflected in higher default rates?

…Has anyone in the Ontario government actually looked into the factors that are known to correlate to good payment history? Two of the most portant seem to be the parent’s ability to have some input into his children’s upbringing and his right to maintain regular contact with them.

…Then there was the 1998 report “For the Sake of the Children” produced by the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access. It recommended abolishing the inflammatory terms “custody” and “access” in favour of a system of shared parenting. The federal government hastily shelved the report (ideology again?), but there’s nothing preventing Ontario from implementing changes along those lines. If Ontario really wanted to do something for families, it should quit the ineffectual posturing and start looking at the measures that might really help.

Politicians like Premier Dalton McGinty and Minister Madeleine Meilleur have for whatever reason turned a blind eye to best practices in family policy. This is backed up by Karen Selik here and there are plenty of statistics to show how much they are off course. Ontario's opposition parties have so far missed opportunities to highlight bad family policy by the Liberals, perhaps because special interests have gotten to them too. Who other than "child-parent access organisations" are going to hold accountable these enablers of ongoing gender discrimination?

Will Madeleine Meilleur need to be sacrificed for the greater good or will she come to her senses first? Please stay tuned...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A shocking truth: one blogger gets CRIES FOR HELP from people around the world...

Are others being terrorised?

I wrote my last blog about Dr. Kenneth Dickie last weekend. Since writing the Dr. Dickie series, I have been contacted by others living inside and outside of Canada who are also targets of bad family policy in Canada. One man in exile in Europe contacted me ... he no longer has a Canadian passport or a drivers licence. He described himself as being "hunted and cornered" by the FRO (Family Responsibility Office). What's next? Dawg the Bounty Hunter hunts down "deadbeats" for a live TV audience?

Historically, non-payment of financial support for children to ex-spouses is in part because of an inability to pay. Also, there are those who are unwilling to pay to retaliate for illegal denial of child /parent access by custodial parents. Do proponents of excessive support enforcement consider these types of situations too?

Illegal access denial without penalty is possible because of a lack of non-litigious or institutional remedies to matters of child-parent access issues. Rightly or wrongly, custody is still awarded to mothers because of their gender (rather than because of their character). Can anyone who interprets the Charter see this as being anything other than gender discriminatory?... but I digress. Because of a lack of policy on access or deterrents to the denial of access, some custodial parents self-interestedly limit access (to punish the other parent) even if psychological research shows that such behaviour negatively affects children emotionally.

Nevertheless, Canadians who divorce and do not (or cannot) honour their financial responsibilities lose their drivers licences, their passports and their children, because of legislation that wrongly assumes further enforcement will motivate people to "pay up". Only after that, those who don't pay what they are due could spend 120 days in jail. After that, Ontarians and/or Albertans who still don't pay will end up with their picture on the internet and labelled a "deadbeat".

I once read we have enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world 50 times over... for those who get off on that, wouldn't once enough? How much support enforcement do we really need?...Does Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government truly believe the posting pictures of "deadbeats" on the internet is really good family policy? Or, is this simply "good politics" in an election year? Is this, as George Bush once said, to "smoke them out of their holes"?

Excessive support enforcement helps keep children away from their fathers

As a by-product, even those who always intended to pay their first families (what some say is excessive and miscalculated yet legislated child and spousal support) will invariably lose all contact with their children. Then again, "access" (which serves mostly men because of the gender preference in custody decisions by Canadian judges) does not matter. Many parents also end up in exile and may lose everything, including their homeland. Some, like Dr. Ken Dickie, end up in jail simply, because they cannot pay.

"Debtor's prison" was eliminated a long time ago in all matters other than the family. So, is this OK because only "divorced dads" are at risk of such incarseration? Is this also a form of state-orchestrated child-parent alienation for mothers who may want to have that card to play just in case? One father in exile suggested in an e-mail to me that politicians have created a "monster (in the FRO) and now they don't know what to do with it"? Are Minister Madeleine Meilleur and Premier Dalton McGuinty responsible out of ignorance, opportunism or pandering to special interests? Will they pay politically for making short-sighted and bad policy decisions (for political reasons) in an election year in Ontario?

Is Canada's judiciary more loyal to legal industry or to fairness and equality?

On New Year' Day I wrote about "discrimination ratings" by Ontario Court of Appeal judges. I highlighted Supreme Court Justice, Rosalie Abella, as an example of a (former) Ontario Court of Appeal judge with one of the worst discrimination ratings.

I previously knew of Justice Abella because of the anecdotes made flippantly by lawyers who I know in Ontario. Some consider Justice Abella to be responsible for much "rain-making" for the legal industry in family law - either the "hero" or the "zero" - depending upon one's perspective. Jurisprudence under her watch made it so that separation agreements in divorce could be could be reopened - because of either "missing financial disclosure" or "inadequate independent legal advice".

Cynics might consider that jurisprudence of this type ensures that the legal industry is fully in control in of the break-up of families in Canada whether that is appropriate or not. Consider this: Canadians must consult a lawyers while separating or divorcing in order to avoid being completely financially vulnerable. This jurisprudence is precisely for why Kenneth Dickie and others have been ostracized by Canada and are in exile.

Are these persons victims of a money grab and a takeover by a legal industry (along with their judicial accomplices) which produces more lawyers than there is legal work? What ever happened to transparent money grabs - like "ambulance chasing"? When children are involved, is it really in their interest for matters of the family to be sorted adversarially?

Are major law firms are "flippant" about family law inequities? Que bono?

This article in its entirety provides an overview of “advocacy dominance” and “superior representation” by certain Canadian law firms in matters of the family. The article was posted on the website of one such firm as a testimony to their ability to provide fair representation in family matters. Healthy sceptics might consider this to be more about assurances (from those who profit from bad family policy) that it is possible, post-agreement, to go after one’s ex-spouse for everything they can. This is via litigation on family matters, even if matters were previously resolved via a supposed “binding contract” in the form of a separation agreement. Would business people agree to such terms?

As such, I leave you with an excerpt from that article below, which also shows another case where Mr. Harold Niman represented a female client pro-bono. Why?

"If my client assured me that she was familiar with her husband’s assets, then it’s possible, perhaps, to do a settlement without full disclosure," says Sadvari at McCarthys tentatively. The risk, however, isn’t really the wife’s - if she later feels she got too little, the fact that the settlement was made without full financial disclosure leaves the husband vulnerable. The courts have shown themselves perfectly willing to reconsider agreements more than a decade after settlement - tow it, Bailey v. Plaxton. Married in 1965, divorced in 1985, Beverly Bailey - represented pro bono by Harold Niman of Niman Zemans Gelgoot - and Alan Plaxton - represented by Stephen Grant of McCarthy Tétrault - were back in the courts in March 2000, to revisit spousal support 10 years after payments, in accordance with their divorce agreement, ceased."
This seems too similar to the financial arrangement Harold Niman allegedly had with Mrs. Dickie to be a coincidence. Is Harold Niman also representing these clients for a larger purpose? You tell me…