May 13, 2020 – Burnaby, BC – Kids First Parent Association of Canada has been accepted to act as an intervenor in the high profile “bus dad” appeal court case between Adrian Crook, Vancouver father of five, and the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). Kids First’s filed appeal factum (legal argument) is available on its website (https://kidsfirstcanada.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/bus-dad-factum.pdf).
Kids First is a grassroots, parent-run, national charity supporting children’s well-being and parental care of children. The non-sectarian, non-partisan group was established in 1987 and is currently based in BC.
The case began in 2017. MCFD social workers prohibited Crook from allowing his children under age 10 to ride the bus or be at home, or anywhere without an adult or a “responsible” person age 12 or over.
Last November, BC Supreme Court Judge Kelleher agreed with Crook that the MCFD had in fact made a legally reviewable decision and not merely given him advice. However, Kelleher dismissed Crook’s primary concern that the MCFD staff had not considered his and his children’s Charter rights.
Therefor Crook and his children are still living with the requirement for constant supervision, and with the stated threat of more intrusive action and possible apprehension of the children by MCFD.
Kids First lawyer, Geoffrey Trotter, states, “We will present the public interest in protecting parents’ Charter right to liberty to raise children without undue interference by the state. The MCFD has admitted that Mr. Crook’s children were not in need of protection. We will argue that the MCFD’s enabling legislation does not grant social workers the power to overrule parents in such situations. Social workers’ child protection powers are extraordinarily invasive, and must be reserved for those exceptional cases where the child is in need of protection as defined in the law.”
The case reflects an escalating power imbalance between parents and the state. Parents lack organizational power and therefore very rarely assert their Charter rights when in conflict with government agencies. Fear of further intrusion and child apprehension means parents typically comply with demands that infringe upon their rights. Parents’ fears are reasonable given Canada’s and child protection services record of disregarding and damaging parent-child relationships.
Kids First President, Helen Ward, states, “This situation is unique only because Mr. Crook brought it to the court of public opinion via the media, and to a court of law. We are hoping the Appeal Justices will clarify parental rights and the legal limits on our rights. Personally, I have experienced a great deal of distress making decisions about my own children’s independence – at home, walking, busing, bike riding – because of fear of someone calling MCFD. This affects all families with minor children.”
There is no legislated age in BC at which children can be unsupervised. The age precedent set in 2015 in the Terrace ‘home alone’ case (BR) on the basis of a social worker’s opinion appears to have been applied to Crook’s children. That earlier case was not appealed (more information here).
The appeal court hearing is set for June 11 in Vancouver by video conference.
Contact: Helen Ward 604-291-0088 firstname.lastname@example.org