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Children can't be pawns in disputes between parents and CASs, Judge says.

ST. THOMAS, ON -- "In child protection proceedings, the children are the innocent focus of the hearing; they cannot be used as pawns in a procedural gambit between the parents and the [Children's Aid] Society that could result in harm accruing to them," was repeated as a much argued case of seven children removed from parents by a children's aid society, found an echo in another court room.

Though the CAS and the parents settled their dispute when the parents agreed to change their methods of punishment and the children returned to the family home, the parents continued to pursue the argument in court.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed an appeal by parents, whose children apprehended by the St. Thomas and Elgin Children's Aid Society in 2001, saying that the questions raised by the appeal were not only abstract but that the parents' Charter rights had not been violated as a result of the GAS action.

Upholding the ruling made by Justice Elinor Schnall of the Ontario Court of Justice who heard the original Charter issues raised by the parents, Justice Lynne C. Leitch of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, said statements made by Justice Schnall in her ruling "are not binding authority on the question whether Charter remedies can ever be available in a child protection proceeding."

Justice Leitch also agreed with Justice Schnall's refusal to exclude evidence that was collected by the police and authorities through videotaping the children without parental consent. Justice Schnall said the evidence did not violate section 24 of the parents' Charter rights and to exclude the evidence or to halt the proceedings "would result in punishing the children for the misdeeds of the Society or the child protection worker."

The respondents to the appeal, included the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, Office of the Children's Lawyer and the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, who was granted Intervener status.
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Title Annotation:Children's Aid Societies
Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Apr 18, 2005
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