Court victory for foster parents to honour their own conscience

The removal of the young girls from the care of Frances and Derek, on only one day’s notice, was heart-breaking.  Why did it happen? The Easter bunny is not something they celebrate.


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Government agencies have been reminded that they must respect the constitutional rights of foster parents. On March 6, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rebuked the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton (CAS) for having closed down the foster home of Frances and Derek Baars.

The Baars had refused CAS demands to proactively tell the two young girls in their care that the Easter Bunny is real.

The Court’s recitation of the facts is almost surreal.

CAS accepted the Baars as foster parents, knowing full-well that this Christian couple does not promote the cultural traditions of Santa and the Easter Bunny, as they would not lie to children.

Two young girls, then four and three, were placed with Frances and Derek in December of 2015. The girls’ biological mother communicated with the Baars by way of a journal and thanked the Baars for having provided a good and happy Christmas for her girls.

She made no mention of Santa Claus. But social worker Tracey Lindsay upbraided Frances and Derek for not having taken a photo of the girls with Santa.

Ms Lindsay then began to demand that Frances and Derek celebrate Easter by actively telling the young girls that the Easter Bunny is real.

The Baars tried to compromise with Ms Lindsay, informing her they intended to have a hunt for chocolate eggs, buy the girls new dresses, and refrain from saying anything at all about a large imaginary rabbit.

CAS was stubbornly focused in its intention to control the minds and mouths of the Baars. CAS refused the Baars’ offer to have the girls stay with another family over Easter.  CAS refused the Baars’ offer to keep their foster home open for infants, who are too young to appreciate or process information about mythical beings.

CAS refused the Baars’ offer to foster only kids coming from religious or cultural backgrounds that do not celebrate Santa or the Easter Bunny.

The removal of the young girls from the care of Frances and Derek, on only one day’s notice, was heart-breaking.

The Court accepted the testimony of social worker Kathleen Kufeldt, that sudden removal of the girls from their environment would be traumatizing, and detrimental to the girls’ best interests. The girls’ own mother had expressed nothing but satisfaction with the loving care that her daughters were receiving from Frances and Derek.

When cross-examined on her affidavit, Ms Lindsay readily admitted that the girls were loved, cared for, protected, clothed, sheltered and well looked after. In court, CAS argued that the Baars lacked the capacity to meet the children’s cultural needs.  But neither Santa nor the Easter Bunny was a high priority for the girls’ biological mother. No law requires foster parents to uphold the pet fancies of social workers.

The Court also rejected Ms Lindsay’s claim that Christian beliefs regarding same-sex marriage implied that Derek and Frances would mistreat or disrespect same-sex couples.  The court said this was “potentially further evidence” of an underlying hostility on the part of CAS towards the Baars.

CAS violated the Baars’ Charter-protected freedom of conscience and religion, by attempting to coerce Frances and Derek to violate their religious beliefs, as a condition of continuing to serve as foster parents. Further, the requirement to say something that the Baars did not believe (that the Easter Bunny is real) is compelled speech, which violates Charter-protected freedom of expression.

The court’s denunciation of compelled speech is especially relevant to the Canada Summer Jobs program “attestation” in support of abortion being legal, and Ontario’s Law Society now requiring lawyers to express their agreement with “equity, diversity and inclusion.”  This court ruling will help protect Canadians’ freedom of conscience, religion, and expression.

It will also help protect religious foster parents and religious adoptive parents, by preventing social workers like Tracey Lindsay from closing good homes to needy children.

Last but not least, vulnerable children will benefit from having more foster homes become available.

Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (www.jccf.ca) which represented Frances and Derek Baars in their court action against the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society.


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John Carpay

John Carpay was born in the Netherlands, and grew up in British Columbia. He earned his B.A. in Political Science at Laval University in Quebec City, and his LL.B. from the University of Calgary. Fluent in English, French, and Dutch, John served the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as Alberta Director from 2001 to 2005, advocating for lower taxes, less waste, and accountable government. Called to the Bar in 1999, he has been an advocate for freedom and the rule of law in constitutional cases across Canada. As the founder and president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, John has devoted his legal career to defending constitutional freedoms through litigation and education. He considers it a privilege to advocate for courageous and principled clients who take great risks – and make tremendous personal sacrifices – by resisting the unjust demands of intolerant government authorities. In 2010, John received the Pyramid Award for Ideas and Public Policy in recognition of his work in constitutional advocacy, and his success in building up and managing a non-profit organization to defend citizens’ freedoms. He serves on the Board of Advisors of iJustice, an initiative of the Centre for Civil Society, India.

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