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September 11, 2010 permalink
About twenty people and one disgruntled dog participated today in a rally for accountability in Huntsville Ontario. A large number of passing motorists indicated support by honking, only one driver expressed a negative view. At one point three police cruisers passed through the rally in formation, but did not interfere. Here are four pictures of the rally.
A passerby related her experience with CAS. Her daughter Elsie Mae Mitchell was born on July 1, 2001 in Sault Sainte Marie Ontario and taken into custody at birth by children's aid. The girl died in foster care on September 3, 2002. Daughters born January 22, 1999 and March 9, 2004 remain in foster care and the mother cannot get them out.
Addendum: A report from Vern Beck.
Vernon Beck I attended the Huntsville Rally and can report that it was a great success for organizers. At one point, a spouse of a Muskoka CAS worker approached one person within the group and made some malicious remarks but this only goes to show how desperate workers with the CAS are to silence growing opposition. Local residents approached asking for fliers and wanting more information about how they could help. Many offered to give video interviews of their experiences with the CAS.
At one point three local children approached the group on their own and asked if they could help hand out fliers. They said they had some friends who were foster kids in Huntsville and unhappy. The children wanted to do something to help their friends. The children started handing out fliers with the greatest of enthusiasm. It was humbling for the grown ups to see the such enthusiasm and support from these young Canadians. These kids understood the importance of standing up.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Addendum: The Huntsville Forester covers the rally. Marty Rutledge, interim executive director for Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka, is mentioned lamenting that one of the possible destructive effects of protests, such as those by Canada Court Watch, is that exaggerations can erode public confidence in our systems and breed cynicism. Instead of attacking the protesters, Mr Rutledge could better restore public confidence by changing policies.
Group critical of Children’s Aid has support here
The second of two rallies in downtown Huntsville this summer saw dozens of protesters demanding government oversight of children’s aid societies.
Members of Canada Court Watch led individuals from Muskoka and across the province in a peaceful yet noticeable rally held primarily at the corner of Centre and Main streets on Saturday, Sept. 11.
The group held placards and banners that read, among other things, “Children’s Aid Society Destroys Families.” Protesters also handed flyers to passing pedestrians and motorists who were stopped at the traffic lights.
The most recent rally in Huntsville was a follow up to another that took place July 12. These protest rallies are taking place across the province in a bid to have provincial government oversight of a service many of the protesters say has no accountability.
As an example, rally organizer Vernon Beck in July said, “The courts and the CAS have too close a relationship . . . the court appears to be doing favours for the Children’s Aid Society.”
He said he felt government oversight would prevent that from happening.
Many of the protesters said they believed the society also had too much unmitigated authority to take custody of children, and others suggested the courts arbitrarily choose which parent would have custody in certain cases.
Marty Rutledge, interim executive director for Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka, said his organization has received one telephone call from a concerned community member asking about the rally issues.
“They’re having rallies across the entire province, so Huntsville is not alone,” said Rutledge. “There are rallies that occur supported by Canada Court Watch supporters on a fairly frequent basis across the province.”
He said there are people who do not agree with the society’s mandate, and the society respects that.
“We want to thank Canada Court Watch for conducting the protest peacefully because not all of the protests have been peaceful,” he said.
But he also said the society does not support the use of inflammatory personal attacks and exaggerated claims stated as facts, such as those found in the protest flyers.
“One of the possible destructive effects of protests, such as those by Canada Court Watch, is that exaggerations can erode public confidence in our systems and breed cynicism,” he said. “This is easy to accomplish when only one side of the story is represented. However, I trust the people of Muskoka will rise above that and remember there is always another side to every story.”
He said the delivery of child welfare services in Ontario is heavily regulated and operates in a system of accountability that includes a legally mandated independent review board responsible for investigating complaints against child welfare agencies.
One complaint specific to Muskoka was taken to the province’s Child and Family Services Review Board, and although specifics of the case cannot be discussed for privacy reasons, the board did conclude, in part, that communication between the complainant and Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka was lacking. The board requested the organization provide the complainant the information specific to the case.
Rutledge said the review board and its decisions are evidence that children’s aid societies are held accountable.
“When we don’t comment or defend our position, that can appear as though we have something to hide. We don’t have anything to hide,” said Rutledge.
“It is important for the public at large to know and believe that child welfare services in this community and across the province are providing services in highly transparent and accountable system that is full of checks and balances on our authority.”
He said he could not comment on the specifics of any case due to the privacy concerns of all parties involved.
According to its website, Canada Court Watch is a non-profit, community-based organization aimed at ending injustices perpetrated by children’s aid societies against children.
The Archbishop Dorian A. Baxter, an Elvis Presley impersonator, who was the first person in Canadian legal history to successfully sue a children’s aid society, leads the network.
Source: Huntsville Forester, September 22, 2010