Quebec judge backs girl grounded by dad
- This is the dumbest decision by a judge I have ever heard!
Jaws drop as Quebec judge backs girl grounded by dad
Don Butler , Canwest News Service Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2008
OTTAWA - If you deny your children access to TV or withhold their
allowance, can they take you to court? And win?
That implausible scenario emerged after a judge in Gatineau, Que.,
sided with a 12-year-old girl who challenged her father after he
refused to let her go on a school trip for disobeying his orders to
stay off the Internet.
Experts in family law and child welfare say they were dumbfounded by
last Friday's ruling by Superior Court Justice Suzanne Tessier.
"As a lawyer and as a parent," said Ottawa family lawyer Fred Cogan,
"I think it's state interference where the court shouldn't be interfering.
"I've got six kids," Cogan said. "I certainly wouldn't want a judge
watching over everything that I do, and I wouldn't want my kids being
able to run to the judge."
But there are few signs Canadian courts are likely to follow Tessier's
"Family court judges are sort of loathe and reluctant to enter into
the sphere of parental discipline," said Peter Dunning, executive
director of the Child Welfare League of Canada.
Joan Durrant, a child clinical psychologist and professor of family
social sciences at the University of Manitoba, said the courts usually
take a hands-off approach to parental discipline, even when it
involves physical maltreatment.
"Some pretty severe cases have been acquitted because it was
determined that it was the parents' right to decide."
In the few cases where children have taken their parents to court,
there's often a history of family conflict, she said. "It's usually
not an isolated incident in the family interaction."
Cheryl Milne, a lawyer at the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth
and the Law, said the scenario in the Gatineau case may be unique to
Quebec because of its civil code. "I can't imagine a similar case
being brought in Ontario."
Even in Quebec, the decision is virtually without precedent. Kim
Beaudoin, who represented the girl's father - he can't be named to
protect the girl's identity - said she's been unable to find any
The father, who is divorced but has legal custody of his daughter, cut
off her Internet access after she chatted on websites he had tried to
block. She then used a friend's Internet connection to post
inappropriate pictures of herself, Beaudoin said.
After discovering that, the father told his daughter she couldn't go
on the three-day school trip. According to Beaudoin, the daughter
"slammed the door" and went to live with her mother, who was willing
to let her take the trip.
However, the school wouldn't allow the girl to go unless both parents
consented or she obtained a court order. That prompted the girl, with
her mother's support, to take legal action against her father,
culminating in Friday's ruling.
According to Beaudoin, Tessier found that denying the trip was unduly
severe punishment. The fact that the girl is now living with her
mother also factored into the judge's ruling, she said.
The father, who is appealing the decision, was "devastated" by the
ruling, Beaudoin said. He is refusing to take his daughter back
"because he has no authority over her."
Que. dad appeals ruling that allows girl, 12, to take school trip
Daughter went to court after being punished for not staying off the
Canwest News Service Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2008
GATINEAU, Que. - The father of a 12-year-old girl who won a court
decision overruling his punishment is appealing the decision, his
lawyer said Tuesday.
The girl took her father to Quebec Superior Court after he said she
couldn't go on a school trip for disobeying his orders to stay off the
The man's lawyer, Kim Beaudoin, said the issue is about restoring
paternal authority and should have been dismissed by Justice Suzanne
Tessier, who told the girl Friday she could make the trip.
"If a parent goes too far there's youth court," Beaudoin said. "I
don't think this tribunal was the proper forum for a decision like
In any event, the child had broken a number of house rules, she noted.
After the father cut her access to the Internet for chatting on
websites he tried to block off, she used a friend's Internet to post
pictures of herself in clothing "inappropriate for a child her age,"
"It's for her protection," she said of the father's disciplinary
measures, mentioning the arrest of a Belgian man in Montreal found in
a hotel with a 13-year-old girl last weekend.
"If we don't learn at the age of 12 there are rules to follow, when do
we?" Beaudoin said.