Rights violated: accused racist

Father challenges seizure of children by authorities


WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg father accused of teaching his children racist views has filed a constitutional challenge and claims his rights to freedom of expression and religion have been violated.


The father and his wife, who can't be named to protect the identity of their children, are set for a legal showdown with Child and Family Services over custody of their seized kids. A weeklong trial is slated to begin May 25, and the father is seeking an automatic ruling in their favour by citing numerous alleged violations under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


CFS seized the children last spring based on concerns about their emotional well-being after the girl showed up at her elementary school with hate propaganda inked on her body. Further investigation revealed the kids were being raised in what agency officials described as a "white supremacist" environment. The investigators also raised child protection concerns not related to the parents' beliefs.


The parents -- who are legally married but currently living apart from each other -- have denied any wrongdoing and the father recently filed an affidavit supporting his position.


"(The mother) and I were excellent parents to our biological child (the boy) and to (the girl), both before and after the children were apprehended. I believe that there is no legal basis for the children having been apprehended in the first place," the father wrote.


"State removal of a child from parental custody is a serious interference with the psychological integrity of the parent and infringes every parent's right to a fair hearing pursuant... to the charter," the man's lawyer wrote.


The nature of the parents' belief is expected to play a role both in the charter challenge and in the child protection trial.


In an interview with the Free Press last summer, the mother described herself as "white nationalist... but not a neo-Nazi skinhead." She admitted to postings made on two websites, which include a picture of the couple standing in front of a Nazi flag, with the man raising his arm in salute. She said postings attributed to her husband under a particular pseudonym were made by him. She claimed to have no memory of ones attributed to her under another pseudonym in which she speaks of posting "White Pride" posters, uses racial slurs to describe black people and makes derogatory comments about aboriginals.


"(The children) goose-step all the time. It really is adorable, it's more fun when we're in the mall and I do it, too," she wrote. Her husband claims he has "dedicated my entire life to being a skinhead" and vows to never change.


The father describes the swastika as "an ancient Nordic symbol for peace, life and new beginnings."


This case has generated national and international publicity because of the unique issues involved. The court hearing is expected to address the extent to which the beliefs as expressed by the parents are legally protected and whether educating their children in these beliefs entitled CFS to apprehend the children.

If the father is successful in establishing that his charter rights have been violated, this may prevent the court from hearing evidence about other child protection concerns CFS discovered during their investigation that are unrelated to the parents' racist beliefs.


CFS recently filed a motion to have the media banned from covering the upcoming trial, fearing further coverage of the case will be harmful to the children. Several media outlets, including the Free Press, objected to the proposed ban. A family court judge dismissed the CFS application earlier this week.


Mike McIntyre  14/05/2009






Responses to “The right to be racist”


JWL says:

How do we ban ignorance and/or stupidity? People should be allowed to think what ever they want, no matter how odious it is, but we should be concerned by their actions towards others. As long as this couple is not going out at night and giving natives or Jews or any ethnic minority a beating or somesuch than they should be left alone.


John. K says:

How about if they were counselling their children to do those things?


JWL says:

Thoughts and actions are two different things. Parents can teach their kids whatever they want and as long the kids don’t act out those hateful thoughts it is acceptable. And if Mike T is accurate about case law, that disturbs me a great deal because I am a bit discombobulated by The State deciding what ‘the best interests’ of a toddler should be. Physical abuse should be only the thing government should care about.


John. K says:

Thoughts and actions may be two different things for adults, but children have a much harder time distinguishing them. And surely, if racism is intrinsically immoral, teaching it is also immoral. As for the State deciding what’s in the best interests of the toddler, if the parents abdicate this responsibility by overtly acting NOT in the child’s best interest, then who but the State can intervene? Surely we shouldn’t just leave the child to the vagaries of chance, hoping someone, somewhere, sometime, will intervene?


Bob says:

Isn’t making sure that children aren’t insane bigots one of the things that… well, society is for? I mean, there are plenty of children of renowned racists who have grown up to denounce their parents’ beliefs.


JWL says:

 “How do you suppose Society does this?”


John. K says:

People mimic what others are doing/saying around them. It is why governments are now putting low income housing within middle-class neighbourhoods. Theoretically, these kids will be around other children who have decent parents and will see how others behave.


Mike T. says:

Don’t worry too much about the terminology. The bar to remove a child from their parents is still very high. Some of this territory has already been covered by the Supreme Court in a case called Young v. Young. that case was a dispute between divorced parents, however, not two parents and child services. I suspect the court will say that the best interests of the child outweighs the right to freedom of expression. But despite some people’s dismissive attitudes about what gets CFS involved, you have to be a really really substandard parent to get your kid yanked. I await developments anxiously.


Bob says:

I’m glad to see I’m not the only man who is really, really, really freaked out by the government deciding it can take children from parents for not being ideologically pure in the government-approved manner.


Dave says:

I don’t agree with racism, but it shouldn’t be up to the state what you teach your children. An issue like this sets a dangerous precedent.


SF says:

If this wins in court, I believe our next step should be removing children from the homes of Liberals, for the good of society.


Craig O. says:

When one of the kids shows up with hate speech on her body in ink, then we’ve passed a line of freedom of speech. If it was a simple “X race is bad”, that’s one thing, but the brief description in the full article, one that does not include all that the social workers must have witnessed, indicates that this probably crossed the line into brainwashing, or involved a degree of emotional abuse. Right now, however, everyone here (myself included) is debating a situation for which we don’t have enough information to make a real judgement.


LS says:

I think that in our society, where racism is generally agreed to be a bad thing, social stigmas attached to overt racism (this is a good kind of stigma) help a lot to take care of this kind of problem. If the government is too heavy-handed in addressing problems like this one, it could contribute to a siege mentality that would strengthen their movement. But I agree with Craig O.; we need a better understanding of the nature of the indoctrination that is happening in order to make a judgment.


Teeka says:

Here's hoping that the courts rule in favour of CFS. How parents can bring their kids up to be intolerant to any race other than their own is appalling.


B. says

This IS Canada; a country of multiculturalism and tolerance, at least that's what IT SHOULD be! These so-called parents are dangerous, sick-minded people and their innocent children should be protected from them. There's NOTHING "adorable or "cute" about racism and hatred! I hope & pray that CFS wins this case!


Loca says:

It's no different than being raised to be a pig-headed teenage jerk who picks on smaller kids in high school, or brought up in a home that despises gays. I wish that this didn't happen, but it does every day. Sadly, these parents do have the right to teach their beliefs to their children. Let's just hope that the kids are also watching their teachers, peers, and good role models to realize there are other points of view.
I personally hate that people teach their children intolerance!


CDN says:

Well the CFS better get on it if they are going to take children from racist parents. They will have a big job ahead of them. Many parents from many other countries teach their children to be racist too! They don't like the Canadian ways, the freedoms our kids have. The freedom our women have. And pass those opinions and beliefs onto their children. Yes, even immigrants can be racist...don't be shocked.


Know It All says:

Good for them. They obviously aren't Canadian bringing their children up in a Nazi fascist way. Publish their names & let’s see what their neighbours & co-workers think of them then. Justice served cold, just the way it should be.


WPGER says:

I wonder what kind of reaction they were hoping for from the school when they drew swastikas on their children? It boggles my mind how people can be so ignorant and closed minded. It’s sad that one would devote their "entire life" to such anger and hatred.


Darsh says:

How is this any different than indoctrinating your child into any of today's 'popular' religions? These religions ALL teach children a particular point of view and that anyone else who doesn't share your views will 'Burn in Hell', or are infidels that don't deserve to live. There are also many views in these religions that teach hate and intolerance towards women and homosexuals. I agree, a child should not be raised in this type of brain-washing environment, but it's much more common - and generally accepted - than you think. This couple's real crime is teaching a set of hate and intolerance that differs from most of the population today.


My Opinion says:

The children should never be returned to those parents...the parents have failed their children miserably.
I have so much anger to those who are cruel to others because of ANY reason that they can't help! In my opinion their thinking is like a deadly disease and needs to be contained before it contaminates others.


Reader says:

I would like to know what opinions readers would have if the situation were a little different. I do not like animals. I don't like to be near them, the smell of them, just the look of them. I have a strong and set opinion towards animals and won't be changing my mind any time soon. I raise my children the same way. Does this give CFS the right to take my children away? Although, I do not share the same opinions as the father and mother in this situation, I do agree that as parents, they should have the right to raise their children the way they want. CFS should only intervene if there was any harm towards the children, and as the father mentioned, they were "excellent parents". It is interesting to see what the children's opinions are on this matter. Because of course ... even though their parents raise them in their beliefs, doesn't mean that they will follow their parents’ beliefs when they grow up. Let us not forget that children do have minds of their own.


Eris says:

I do not condone what these parents are teaching their children. But we need to ask ourselves if their behaviour is that different from parents of other cultures, who also reside in Canada. These parents are teaching their children to hate, but I didn't read in the article that they were teaching them that it is noble to martyr yourself for your race or religion. That goes on, yet we wouldn't dare touch that.


Mouse says:

Are you people not being intolerant of these parents? Did your parents not teach you to allow other their own beliefs? Look at what you write as it's very hypocritical. I don't agree with what the parents were teaching nor would I teach my own children the same, but they have the right to their own beliefs, just like you're free to bring your kids up as you want to Canada is a place where there are many different types of people, yet your guys are ostracizing them for not believing what you do! What if CFS were to take your kids away for teaching Christian values or anything similar you would be outraged too!


Susan says:

It is true that there are still many racist and intolerant people, but most have enough sense not to shout it out, at least in Winnipeg. It is rare to see such blatant ignorance in an adult ... where is the sanity in drawing a common symbol of racist hatred on a child? That alone should condemn the parents. And that can't be the only example of the poor judgement of these parents. And most organized religions of today do not preach that unbelievers will burn in hell. They teach more cooperation and tolerance of others ... both ideals that are missing from white Supremacists. I don't see how they can be compared. I also question why these two adults are living in Canada, a melting pot of cultures.


Gnome says:

These parents are ugly racists and I think it's abhorrent how they're raising their children, but I have similar opinions about religious zealots who indoctrinate their kids, and right-wing, gun-crazy hunters who take their 6-year-olds out to shoot animals. We can't take peoples' kids away just because we don't agree with their views or we think they're raising their children to have similarly ugly views. It's unconstitutional.


Karen says:

I teach my children not to drive or walk alone in the North end of the city unless they absolutely must. Does that make me a bad mom? No, it makes me a mom who cares about her children's safety. I tell them about birth control and safe sex, that they will not go to hell if they have premarital sex. I teach them about good and bad relationships, the dangers of meeting online 'buddies' they don't know about. About parties at places they have never been to and not to trust anyone other than family. Oh I'm terrible! These parents never starved or beat the kids in any way. They just taught them what they thought was best. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. What makes you people out there judge and jury? The kids will grow up with a mind of their own and choose their own paths. How many of you have followed to the letter your parents’ belief system?