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Speech in Senate Chamber: Senator Cools closes the debate at second reading of her bill, Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (abuse of process).

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cools, seconded by the Honourable Senator Milne, for the second reading of Bill S-9, to amend the Criminal Code (abuse of process).-(Honourable Senator Cools).

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators -

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I would inform the Honourable Senator Cools that if she speaks now, her speech will have the effect of closing the debate on the motion for second reading of Bill S-9.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, this matter has been thoroughly canvassed in this chamber on several occasions. I thank Senator Kinsella for speaking to it several days ago. It is my intention to allow the question to be put so that the bill can be referred to committee.

This is an important and pressing social policy question which is the abuse of process within child custody and access disputes where one parent, usually the mother, falsely accuses the other parent, usually the father, of sexually abusing their own children.

I have done much work in this regard. In my last speech some months ago when I opened the second reading debate, and I believe that was Thursday, February 17 of this year, I placed on the record 49 adjudicated cases of decisions where judges had made findings that such accusations were false. I view this issue as a national crisis of epic proportions.

I do not know how many of you have taken the time to read some of these judgments, but sifting through them is a painstaking, tedious process. I have been collecting these cases for many years, and I know there are many more cases to collect.

I should like to now place three more adjudicated cases on the record so that, before the bill is referred to committee there will be 52 adjudicated cases available. These are cases where judges have reviewed the evidence and rendered judgments.

Often when case names comprise initials, it is a sign that minors are involved. When one reads these cases it may sound as though one is reading Greek or some other foreign language.

The first case is by Judge Fisher , 1995, A.L.J.R. v. H.C.G.R. The second case is by Justice Macleod, 1993, Jeanson v. Gonzalez. The third case is a decision by Mr. Justice Flurry, 1996, S.W.C. v. T.L.C.

I would like to put a few quotations on the record. In the case of A.L.J.R. v. H.C.G.R., a case in the Ontario Court of Justice, Provincial Division, in Milton, Ontario, with Provincial Judge Fisher, the judge wrote at paragraph 17, Quicklaw:

From the evidence that I have read, however, I believe Dr. Hurst's report. I find that the father committed no physical or sexual abuse and that the mother programmed her child to give fictitious complaints.

At paragraphs 19 and 20, he continues:

She is not now a candidate for parenting because of the emotional abuse that she has inflicted, not only on her child but herself.

I hope that those interested in this matter have had the opportunity of reading Dr. Hurst's monitoring of a visit between the father and D.R. It is touching. An expert is telling us that there is a close, loving relationship between the father and his daughter.

At paragraph 23 the judge continues:

When, in the past, I have read evidence of alleged abuse, I have decided to err on the side of caution and order supervised access. Judges often do this. I confess to have been taken in by the mother's evidence. However, it appears in making such an order that I simply erred. It is to be hoped that this order corrects that error.

Honourable senators, I put that particular citation by that judge on the record because I thought that was a real mark of character for the judge to admit that he had made such a mistake, and that he was hoping that his correction of the order would correct the error that he had made. That was an extremely fine statement to make.

The next case that I would like to place on the record was also heard in the Ontario Court of Justice, General Division, in Welland, Ontario, by Mr. Justice Fleury, S.W.C. v. T.L.C. In this case, again, at paragraphs 9 and 10, the judge says the following:

There is no doubt that whenever allegations are made regarding sexual abuse of very young children by one of the parents, this throws a major wrinkle in the custody determination process. It is very hard for any judge to ignore such allegations. This kind of abuse has a potential for such long-term trauma that one must take all necessary steps to ensure that a child is not exposed to an individual who would be disposed to engage in such conduct. I am satisfied in this case that these allegations are completely without foundation.

...Why were such groundless accusations made? Although it is difficult to understand how an individual as intelligent and as educated as the wife is, could have prompted her daughter to say such things, I have come to the collusion on a balance of probabilities that she in fact did this. She was so concerned about her husband's claim for custody that she decided to resort to this kind of malicious and devious way of improving her chances of success.

The third and final case - and these again are adjudicated cases with legal findings - is the case of Jeanson v. Gonzalez, Ontario Court of Justice, General Division, Kingston, Ontario, Mr. Justice MacLeod, at paragraph 22, writes:

Her affidavits were absolutely scandalous and outrageous in light of their content. She misrepresented the facts of this case to the Children's Aid Society, to the medical profession, and to her own psychiatrist, if any of their reports are a summary of what she told them. She has caused both Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Jeanson to have extensive legal costs in this matter.

Honourable senators, I forgot to say that this was a case of two relationships and two sets of accusations.

She has caused both Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Jeanson to have extensive legal costs in this matter. Mrs. Watts has been found previously in contempt of court and it should be noted that during the middle of my delivery of these Reasons she walked out of the court-room without hearing them to their conclusion.

While Mrs. Watts is now seeing a psychiatrist, to help her deal with her personal problems and to come to terms with her present circumstances, I do not see any evidence that she has dealt with her circumstances to any sufficient degree and in fact, as I have said repeatedly, her agenda remains the same, to frustrate and obstruct the access by further court applications, each and every time that she can, by both Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Jeansen in hopes that the two fathers will literally give up and return custody of the two children to her.

Honourable senators, in conclusion, I should like to say that this entire area is such a heart of darkness and is really needing some light to be shed on it and some very dutiful study and consideration.

I have spoken to hundreds of people who have been so falsely accused. These are not a list of the accusations that I present here; these are the cases where findings have been made. Thus, I submit to honourable senators that on any kind of ratio that one would want to evolve for basic written arithmetic, these actual findings would be a very small percentage of accusations that have been made.

I thank honourable senators on both sides of the chamber who have been supportive of this particular issue and senators in the past who are no longer here, such as Senator Wood, Senator Phillips and others.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates available here.