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Jailed for Motherhood
January 2, 2007 permalink
As this is written, Myriam Bédard is sitting in a jail cell in Maryland, awaiting the formalities of extradition to Canada, which she is not opposing.
Her crime is caring for her twelve-year-old daughter, an act that for a normal parent is not criminal. It was (presumably) made criminal for her by order of a family court judge. The daughter was according to early reports placed with her father, but now the press says she is with Myriam's mother.
The judge's order criminalizing her motherhood has not been published, and from the looks of the news reports on this case, none of the reporters have seen it.
It is hard to avoid noticing as well that Mme Bédard was a witness in a case that led to the fall of the Canadian government. Former prime minister Paul Martin is in retirement, along with his cabinet ministers. Retirement did not apply however to judges appointed by that government, including possibly the judge in the Bédard case.
Is this a case of the judicial system striking out at Myriam Bédard the way it more commonly strikes capriciously at fathers?
Canadians deserve answers in this case. When was the order issued to Myriam Bédard that induced her to flee Canada? What is in the order? Was it in response to her embarrassing testimony in the Gomery case?
Below are two news articles on the case, a week apart.
Olympian Myriam Bedard faces extradiction hearing in child custody case
WASHINGTON (CP) - Canadian Olympic champion Myriam Bedard faces an extradition hearing Tuesday after spending Christmas weekend in a Maryland jail on charges of abducting her daughter.
It's the latest twist in an emotional family saga that began this fall and ended with Bedard's arrest late Friday by U.S. marshals after her ex-husband complained she violated a custody agreement by taking 12-year-old Maude away from Quebec City.
Bedard, a national figure after winning double gold in the biathlon at the 1994 Winter Olympics, officially became an international fugitive when Canadian authorities issued an arrest warrant on Dec. 8.
The athlete and her current husband, Nima Mazhari, made no secret of the fact they were going to the United States with Maude in October.
The girl's biological father, Jean Paquet, soon complained to authorities that Bedard was breaking their custody agreement.
Father and daughter were reunited in Maryland late Saturday after Maude spent the day in the care of U.S. social services. Paquet was expected to drive her back home on Sunday for the holiday.
Spokeswoman Catherine Gagnaire of the Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa wouldn't provide details on Monday.
"They are together," Gagnaire said. "That's all I can tell you."
American authorities caught up with Bedard at about 10 p.m. Friday at an upscale hotel just off the busy highway linking Washington and Baltimore.
She will appear in a Baltimore court possibly by video-link from the stark Howard County detention centre in Jessup, Md., about 50 kilometres north of Washington.
U.S. marshals say the RCMP first contacted them for help finding Bedard on Dec. 15. Once it was determined she was in the United States, they obtained a provisional arrest warrant.
Mazhari, interviewed by the Quebec network TVA in the parking lot of the hotel where Bedard was arrested, said they had been living in several different hotels in recent weeks.
He said he and Bedard turned themselves in to the FBI in Washington after they discovered Dec. 14 that she was being sought by police, but the bureau did nothing.
"They said 'We'll study it,' " Mazhari said.
Asked if the couple had authorization to leave Canada with Maude, Mazhari said: "I know that he (Paquet) was aware. In any case, it took us two or three months to prepare all this."
He said Maude was treated well on ther trip.
Source: canada.com website
Bedard hopes for Wednesday jail release
Aaron Derfel, CanWest News Service
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
MONTREAL - Myriam Bedard's lawyers are hoping to persuade a U.S. judge to release the Olympic champion from a Maryland jail as early as Wednesday to return to Quebec to face child-abduction charges.
Bedard's detention took yet another bizarre turn Monday amid claims that her 12-year-old daughter Maude is eating little and refusing to take showers in an ''act of solidarity'' with her mother.
Kevin McCants, Bedard's lawyer, said the judge should take this new information into account.
''Myriam is fine physically and mentally but very concerned about her daughter not eating,'' McCants said in a telephone interview. ''Obviously, she's very concerned about them being separated for this long.''
Bedard had been travelling in the U.S. with her daughter and boyfriend, Nima Mazhari, since Oct. 3. Bedard was arrested on Dec. 22 by U.S. authorities after Jean Paquet, Maude's father, filed a complaint with Quebec City police accusing her of abducting the child.
That same day, Maude was sent back to Quebec.
McCants had decided against filing an emergency court motion Monday seeking Bedard's return to Canada.
''I didn't want to belabour the issue,'' he said. ''We will be back in front of the judge (Wednesday) at three o'clock.''
Bedard, a two-time gold medal winner at the 1994 winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, has been having a tough time in jail. McCants said Bedard was almost attacked by another prisoner over the use of a bed, but that she is now staying in another cell.
Ideally, McCants wants Bedard to be released on her own recognizance as soon as possible, or to be escorted by U.S. marshals to the Quebec border, where she would then be transferred to the Quebec provincial police.
At one point, Bedard risked staying in jail until Jan. 10 as U.S. Justice Department officials, the Canadian Justice Department and various police forces negotiated details over her transfer to Quebec.
Mazhari, who has been staying in a hotel during Bedard's detention, strongly defended her actions Monday.
''You have to always be proud of Myriam,'' he said.
''She never did anything wrong, and whatever she did was correct, and it's honorable whatever she did. You have to blame all those who created so much trouble in her life. It's already two years we are living in a shit and our life is torture every day.''
Mazhari claimed that Bedard is the victim of a conspiracy for having spoken out during the sponsorship scandal of the former federal Liberal government.
He noted that Bedard's daughter is no longer staying with her father, but her paternal grandmother. This, he added, suggests that Paquet is not genuinely interested in being with his daughter.
Paquet could not be reached for comment.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Addendum: Myriam Bédard was released from jail in Quebec on January 5, after posting half of $2000 bond. Fourteen days in jail for such petty bail is extraordinary.