I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Law societies under fire

Apr 30, 2009 by Kate Lunau

Cora MacPhail doesn’t dislike lawyers. She has close friends who are lawyers; family members, too. MacPhail considers the law to be an honourable profession. Which helps explain why her dealings with the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) left her shaken.

In 2006, MacPhail was confined to a wheelchair for eight weeks following ankle surgery. The retiree, who lives alone in London, Ont., asked for help at home from a local care centre, but due to a mix-up, was at first denied (the centre later apologized, and provided her with services including a personal care worker). MacPhail’s son fired off a letter of complaint to the local MPP, and copied it to the centre; days later, the elderly woman got a knock on her door. It was the care centre’s “director of quality and contracted service delivery,” who questioned her and her son about the letter, she says. The meeting left her feeling uneasy. Weeks later, her son typed the care centre employee’s name into Google and discovered he was a lawyer, not a social worker, as they had believed. On Dec. 4, 2006, MacPhail filed a complaint with the LSUC, which regulates Ontario’s lawyers and paralegals. “He did not disclose who he was—a lawyer,” she wrote in her letter. “I trust you will take action.”

MacPhail, who was hoping for an apology, figured it would be an open-and-shut case. In fact, the process dragged on for almost two years. Her complaint was at first dismissed; when she requested an independent review, it bounced back to the law society instead, where it was rejected again. MacPhail appealed to a higher power, the complaints resolution commissioner, who is funded by the law society to conduct impartial reviews of their investigations. Then she learned the commissioner had a conflict of interest and had to withdraw. When her complaint was finally reviewed, the commissioner’s delegate found in MacPhail’s favour, asking the law society to reconsider. It did—and rejected her complaint a third and final time, deciding the man was not working in his capacity as a lawyer at the time of the visit. (For confidentiality reasons, the LSUC declined to comment on the case.)

MacPhail’s story is just one small example of what critics call a fundamental problem with the way the Canadian legal profession is regulated. Law societies, the regulatory bodies to which every practising lawyer must belong, have the authority to investigate and discipline their own members. But if you feel you’ve been bamboozled by a lawyer, complaining to his or her membership group can quickly undermine faith in the system. A bright, vivacious woman, MacPhail becomes visibly deflated when discussing her case. “It makes you feel very powerless,” she says. “They’re all such pals.”

In other countries, concerns like MacPhail’s have become an impetus for change. In England and Australia, for example, law societies are having some powers stripped away, and independent bodies have sprung up to deal with complaints. Among the Commonwealth countries, Canada’s system of lawyer discipline is fast becoming the exception instead of the rule. “People think it’s Caesar judging Caesar, when it’s the legal profession [handling complaints] itself,” says Steve Mark, legal services commissioner for Australia’s largest state, New South Wales.

In England and Wales, a new law came into effect in 2007 aimed at taking power away from lawyers and putting it in consumers’ hands. The profession’s self-regulating bodies, like the Bar Council and Law Society of England and Wales (which represent barristers and solicitors, respectively), no longer have free rein: the Legal Services Act created an independent body, chaired by a non-lawyer, to watch over them. The complaints process has also been revamped. Instead of seeking redress from the law society or bar council, members of the public will soon be able to go directly to the independent Office for Legal Complaints (OLC). Having a separate body perform this function is crucial to bolster public confidence, says Mary Seneviratne, director of research at Nottingham Law School and one of the OLC’s recently appointed members.

England isn’t the first to move away from pure lawyer self-regulation. In Australia, most states have an independent legal services commissioner to handle complaints. Steve Mark has been in the role in New South Wales since 1994; his office has proved so successful it’s served as a model elsewhere, including in England. As the “sole port of call” for complainants, he can decide whether to handle them in his office (about three-quarters of complaints stay with him), or refer them to the law society or the New South Wales Bar Association. “As an independent body, I can advocate for the consumer and not seem to have a vested interest,” Mark says. And when he chooses to dismiss a complaint, he adds, “it’s not assumed I’m trying to protect the profession.”

In both England and Australia, it wasn’t just bad optics that brought about change; law societies’ track records at investigating complaints were notoriously awful. Prior to reform, Zahida Manzoor, a non-lawyer who serves as legal services ombudsman and legal services complaints commissioner for England and Wales, issued a series of scathing reports criticizing the law society’s complaints-handling arm for being slow, poorly run and providing bad service. When it failed to submit adequate plans to improve, she imposed a hefty fine. “It wasn’t just a problem of perception; they were performing badly,” Manzoor says. In the Australian state of Queensland, where lawyer self-regulation came to an end in 2004, legal ombudsman Jack Nimmo concluded the lawyers’ complaints-handling body was “nothing but a post office box” that forwarded complaints to the lawyer in question, then sent the response back to the complainant.

Canadian law societies don’t have the same problems, argues Stéphane Rivard, a Montreal lawyer and president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, an umbrella for the 14 provincial and territorial bodies (Quebec has two). “What triggers government intervention is when you have a lack of rigour [in regulating the profession and investigating complaints],” he says. “That’s not the case here.”

That, however, is up for debate. Canada hasn’t seen reforms comparable to those abroad, but “I’m skeptical it’s because lawyer self-regulation works here,” says Alice Woolley, an associate professor with the University of Calgary’s faculty of law. “There’s been insufficient scrutiny to assess that.” Unlike Australia or England, Canada has no independent legal ombudsman; members of the public must appeal to a law society-funded commissioner. And while the Law Society of England and Wales was criticized for receiving one complaint for every six of its members, turns out the Law Society of Upper Canada, the largest in the country, doesn’t have a much better record. In 2007, the LSUC had 38,879 lawyer members, and got 6,157 complaints, a ratio roughly equal to its English counterpart.

Philip Slayton is a former Bay Street lawyer and author of Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex and Madness in Canada’s Legal Profession. He calls the disciplinary record of our law societies a “patchwork quilt” that varies from province to province, and even from one case to another. “I think the idea of a law society disciplining its own members is contrary to the basic principles of justice,” he says. Beyond that, “they’ve done a bad job.”

Take the case of former Law Society of Upper Canada treasurer George Hunter, which Slayton discusses in his book. In 2004, Hunter sat on a law society panel that for the first time disbarred a lawyer for sexually harassing a client (the disbarment was later overturned on appeal). In 2007, after Hunter admitted he himself had engaged in a relationship with a client—one of three extramarital affairs he’d been juggling—the prominent lawyer found himself back before the panel, this time on the opposite end.

Hunter’s former client was not at the hearing, but her impact statement told of depression, anxiety and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, the Lawyers Weekly reported. Hunter’s counsel presented the panel with a stack of 27 “glowing reference letters” on his behalf, many of them penned by prominent benchers (members of the law society’s governing board). “Spectators remarked on the irony of benchers urging three fellow benchers to mete out the mildest possible sentence to a former bencher guilty of conflict of interest,” the lawyers’ newspaper reports. Hunter was suspended from practice for 60 days.

Whether it creates a conflict of interest when law societies investigate their members is “open to question,” says Paul Paton, vice-chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s national ethics and professional issues committee, and associate professor at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. But, he adds, “a perceived conflict of interest is often equal, in the public mind, to an actual one.” Most dangerously, that perception can put people off from complaining at all. In one British survey, 81 per cent of people who’d used a solicitor in the previous three years said they’d rather complain to an independent body; if it had to be to another lawyer, 52 per cent wouldn’t complain at all.

It’s unfortunate, says Manzoor, the legal services ombudsman for England and Wales, because a lack of public confidence can undermine the entire legal system. “We’re talking about the rule of law. We’re talking about access to justice,” says Manzoor, who supports independent complaints resolution. “It’s not ‘lawyer knows best’; it’s a service that’s being provided,” she says. “We’ve got to make sure it’s of the highest standard, because it affects the public in such a way.”

Yet, unlike in Australia or England, the Canadian public—and its elected officials—have been surprisingly mute on the subject of legal reform. MacPhail can’t help but wonder whether meek acceptance is part of our culture. “I can recall going to a movie once,” she says. “The lights went out, but the movie didn’t start. Everybody just sat there.” After sitting quietly in the dark for several minutes, waiting in vain for the movie to begin, she says, “we finally got up and told someone.”

With so many Canadians losing faith in the justice system—or feeling shut out of it entirely—change seems inevitable. Legal reforms abroad were intended to empower the public, instead of lawyers; in England and Australia, “change came for good reasons,” Woolley says. “Those reasons exist here.”

Before widespread reform can happen in Canada, though, Paton suggests that public confidence in our legal system might have to hit an all-time low. “I think it will take one more scandal,” he says.

Jerry Dykman says:

I am rather amused that your magazine would advocate setting up yet another commission to deal with complaints against lawyers. This after a long series of articles calling for the abolition of provincial Human Rights Commissions across Canada. This would, by the same token, call for an independent Police Commision, an independent College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dentists, Accountants, Engineers, Chiropractors, Land Surveyors, Architects, or just about any one who charges for a service. How about hookers and teacup readers? You name it, someone will complain about it. As a lawyer with 36 years good standing, I’d like to complain to a commission to rule on clients who tell only half their story before going to court, don’t show up for court, and who pay their retainer with an NSF cheque; or a client who will grossly misrepresent the complexity and length of time required for the work to be done. Then there are the fraudsters and thieves who try to access a lawyer’s trust funds with counterfeit money orders, or obtain a mortgage disbursment on property they do not own. Once the legal profession loses its independence from government, good luck finding a lawyer to safeguard your civil rights.

  • I.M.K. says:

    I have the same problem… however I was given a deadline to hand in my complaints…. turns out the original complaint was from over 20 years ago…. and even after court judgement was passed, the law society still ahs not taken action.

    What is the proper course of duty in this case???

    Lobbying the public.!?

  • Julianna says:

    Oh boo hoo lawyers know their stuff they went to school they can do what they want.

  • Mike Murphy says:

    I think its pretty clear Lawyers are thought of as not overly ethical, greedy (I can certainly justify my $600.00 per hour fees says one) and in Family Law are thought of as living off the avails of family destruction. There is room for them to go lower though. It seems like Jerry Dykman is a lawyer or an apologist for them. We have lawyers with their hands in the pockets of our children’s legacies and supporting a dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW) system that allows moms to have physical custody of children in almost a 9-1 ratio, and they have no trouble marginalizing fathers to 14% visitors, if that. They are part and parcel along with their colleagues the judges in gender apartheid reducing fathers to mere wallets and visitors. When you confront them with this they say “that’s the way the system is” as though they are victims too. What BS! If ever a profession needed independent regulation this is it. Don’t worry about the Dykman “red herring” by throwing out all the other professional bodies as “bait” to sidetrack the issue. Its a canard. Canada lags way behind Australia, particularly in FLAW and needs to move forward. Trouble is though a goodly number of the members of legislatures and the Federal Parliament are also lawyers covering their backs. Interesting isn’t it.

    • Jerry Dykman says:

      Please, Mike Murphy, do not argue about gender apartheid when the enrollment in law schools since the 1980’s has been gender balanced, as it is becoming so in many other professions. I have attended many a court docket where the judge and the lawyer for each side were all women. Raising children is a stressful and demanding vocation, and most mothers and grandmothers traditionally and biologically are seen to be better equipped to put up with the constant needs and wants of toddlers. When it comes to custody arrangements, I believe fathers are better suited to backstop defiant male teenagers. However, by that age, most children decide on the parent with whom they wish to “crash”. I agree that enforcement of visitation rights could be as draconian as child support enforcement. The paying spouse has the payments deducted from his or her paycheque and driver’s licence suspended for failing to pay voluntarily. A custodial spouse should suffer the same kind if treatment in denying court-ordered visits or part time custody for reasons of inconvenience, jealousy, or spite. Society evolves, and the rules of law evolve with it, usually about twenty years later. Society wants musical-chair marriages and live-in unions? Deal with the consequences, and do not expect police, social workers, crisis centres, doctors, lawyers and judges to work themselves into an early grave or beyond their job descriptions. Show me a functional family and I will show you a burial plot.

      • Mike Murphy says:

        Mr. Dykman: I will quote you in my book. You have single handedly stated all that is wrong with the thought process of those responsible for the dysfunctional system of FLAW and you have also managed to insult both loving fathers (I was a stay at home dad) and the gender feminists who believe there is no such thing as gender based roles based on biology.

        You live in a nether world clearly displaying the laziness of the current crop of family lawyers and judges while those of us who seek change watch in wonder but who will get the changes we think are appropriate for the 21st century father in the next few years with or without your help.

        Jerry Dykman says:

        I stand by my position. If you want change, donate or work for the abolition of the traffic of children in the sex trade all around the world. I would love to be quoted in your book. Found a publisher?

      • Chantelle LaMarch says:

        Jerry Dykman is your classic lawyer who will safeguard our civil rights. Like most lawyers, he is a legend in his own mind. As a matter of fact, lawyers do not safeguard civil rights; they remove them, as history has shown us. This explains the rise in lawyers in modern society. No lawyer has safeguard civil rights as ordinary people in this country or any other country have! Lawyers are cultural vultures who feed off the flesh of people’s misery. You can see them in family courts picking up the wounds of others and pricing them like precious dinosaur bones. Society may evolve, but lawyers don’t. They are not even part of the evolution!

        Lastly, the traffic of children in the sex trade all around the world is a service that is also used by wealthy lawyers, according to a police friend of mine. I bet that most of these children come from broken homes. Thanks to family court judges and lawyers who do not produce any goods or services or add any value or improvement to quality of life of children. Simply put: “Lawyers are political pork”.

        1. Mike Murphy says:

          The discussion was about lawyers, about the self governance of same and its impotence, and in my comments the gender apartheid practiced by judges in collaboration with lawyers – and you appear to be one of them – in giving custody to mothers in a 9-1 ratio. Stay on topic Mr. Dykman. I’m focused on changes to FLAW and the marginalization of fathers. You do want you want in other areas. You’ve got the bucks.

        2. Demand Lustration says:

          Bravo Mike Murphy! Bravo I.M.K. ! Ignore amateur wonna be Tavistock PsyWar Pupil ‘Jerry Dykman’ …

          Mike, I.M.K. – we need not to wait “… next few years …”, we already have IN PLACE several very high-profile actions directly against:

          - Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC)

          - Mr. Mr. Christopher Bentley, The Guardian of the Public Interest in All Matters Regarding the LSUC Act and the LSUC. LSA, s. 13 (1)

          - so called ‘Judiciary’: Ontario appointed ones: Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ) and its corresponding Ontario Judicial Council (OJC)

          Federally appointed ones: Superior Court of Justice (SCJ), Court of Appeal for Ontario (CAO), Canadian Judicial Council (CJC), “National Judicial Institute” (NJI), Abella, Charron at SCC, and, of course, “The Queen Beverly” …

          just join and get more details at : demand.resignations.lustration@gmail.com

          In the meantime, one analysis here:

          =========================

          Ontario has more lawyers than it has medical doctors.

          “In 2007, the LSUC had 38,879 lawyer members,” and Ontario had a population of less than 13 million people.

          That works out to one lawyer per less than 500 people.

          Ontario workforce is about 6.5 million people (2006 Census) so we have one lawyer per less than 250 working people.

          Total number of people in Ontario with University diploma is 118000 (2006 Census) so lawyers represent one third of all people with University education in Ontario.

          Mid range salary for a lawyer on Ontario government payroll is about 180000.00 dollars a year so it is safe to assume that lawyers in Ontario earn on average 140000.00 dollars a year.

          See: http://www.lawyersweekly.ca/index.php?section=article&articleid=263

          Lawyers do not produce any goods or services that add any value or improvement to quality of life in Ontario but they cost every working Ontarian 560.00 dollars a year to pay lawyers salaries.

          It cost every working Ontarian another 1000.00 dollars or more a year to pay for offices, office staff and office supply, of every lawyer operating in Ontario.

          It is no small wonder that Ontario economy is going bust with so much of totally unproductive luggage that it has to drag along.

        3. Earl Shuman says:

          The day before Kate Lunau’s April 30th article appeared in Macleans, I gave a twenty minute speech at Ontario’s legislative building in Queen’s Park in Toronto calling for legislation to end self-governence of lawyers in Ontario. As justification for that, I tried to explain how lawyers are gaming the Ontario justice system under the guise of consumer protection legislation. If anybody wants a free DVD copy of my speech, please call me (905 342 5560).

  • In Ireland its the same as here ~ The feminist sirens remained quiet. For the victim is a man

    Independent.ie

    By KEVIN MYERS Tuesday May 05 2009

    There seems to be no empathy, no regard, no compassion for male victims.

    And the case of Michael Hannon is particularly shocking

    I looked, and of course, I looked in vain, for some sign of compassion for Michael Feichin Hannon, from our state-supported feminist quangos. I shouldn't have been surprised about their silence over the grave injustice done to him: yet some small stupid part of me had retained the naïve hope that there might be some sign of ordinary human decency from our professional gender-industry.

    Gender self-pity is now so deeply ingrained in the political psyche of the institutions of this State that it is apparently quite invisible to those who run them. We have lived in a political regime with a one-way rage for two decades now; and like the vegetation on a wind-blasted island, the landscape of our public morality has been utterly distorted by it. We have created a state-subsidised chorus of feminist sirens which only howls when it sees the cases that confirm that women alone are the victims of endless oppression. Naturally, the sirens -- and their colleagues in the media -- resolutely ignore those cases which provide contradictory evidence.

    Now, a few weeks ago I was confident that the various state-subsidised feminist quangos -- from the Rape Crisis Centres, to the National Council of Women, to the Equality Authority -- would say nothing about the preposterously light sentence of seven years for the serial rape of a 14-year-old boy by his mother, and I was right. The fact that the judge was a woman was no doubt a factor in their silence. Her explanation for the light sentence -- that the Edwardian law was more heavily biased against paternal incest was both tendentious and spurious: for the charge of sexual assault alone carries a maximum of 14 years' imprisonment.

    It's possible that I missed some condemnation of the sentence by the vast army of feminist-commentators and feminist quangos: but if I did, it wasn't for want of trying. But imagine the outcry -- and very properly -- if a man who had raped and sexually abused his 14-year-old daughter was sentenced to just seven years' imprisonment by a male judge.

    What troubles me most about these feminist institutions, and the feminists who run them -- not all of them women by any means -- is the double standards which are now a norm. There seems to be no empathy, no regard, no compassion for male victims. So the case of Michael Hannon is particularly shocking, not merely because it could so easily happen again, but because of the lack of outcry resulting from it. Twelve years ago this innocent young man was framed by a malicious 10-year-old girl, Una Hardester, and duly found guilty of assault and sexual assault. His life could have been ruined. That it wasn't was because his family believed in his innocence.

    That same year, three young Irish soldiers on holiday in Cyprus were similarly accused by an Irish girl. Only 15 hours later, after the men had been arrested on charges of rape, and under questioning from a detective who doubted her allegations, did the accuser break down and admit that her claims were baseless. She was sentenced to four months imprisonment.

    Cue, outcry from Irish feminists, not over the attempt by a young Irishwoman to use the proper loathing for the crime of rape to ruin the lives of three innocent men, but because she was imprisoned at all. Condemning the jail sentence, Olive Braiden of the Rape Crisis Centre, said it would deter rape victims from reporting cases, and anyway, there was more to this case "than met the eye": whatever that cheap slur might mean. Anne O'Donnell, formerly of the Rape Crisis Centre, similarly dismissed the seriousness of the false allegations of rape, and, briefly appointing herself as both judge and jury in some hypothetical Cypriot court, declared that the woman's word alone would never have been enough to have secured a rape conviction. Ah. So that's all right then.

    Fast forward to the Hannon case. Racked with guilt, Una Hardester returned from the US nearly three years ago to admit to her false allegations. Her sworn statement was known to An Garda Siochana and the office of the Director Public Prosecutions. But, quite scandalously, it was never passed to Michael Hannon's solicitor. Michael only discovered its existence purely by chance, after his sister encountered Hardester at a petrol station. Thus, no petrol, no justice. And it gets worse. For this state then flatly refused to declare that a miscarriage had been done. Michael Hannon, having once been the victim of the law, was then obliged to return to the courts to fight for a certificate of miscarriage of justice, which the Court of Appeal issued last week.

    Now, we can be quite certain if a woman had been so gravely wronged by the State in some matter relating to sexual crime, that the feminist sirens, media and quangos alike, would have been howling in anger, and demanding enquiries and heads. But in the aftermath of this case, nothing: the sirens remained as quiet as a mountain lake. For the victim is a man, so really, the injustice done to him really doesn't count. Not in 1997, not today, and no doubt, not in 2019 either.

    kmyers@independent.ie

    - KEVIN MYERS

    'Feminists demand equality, but women and children come first'

    date7 May 2009 13:28
    subjectColumn ~'Feminists demand equality but women and children come first',
    mailed-byshaw.ca

    Dear Editor and Kevin:

    Your column http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/feminists-demand-equality-but-women-and-children-come-first-1700637.html has started to be circulated in the North American Men’s Rights movement and having just read it wanted to say thank you. Your descriptions involving “Life Boat Feminism” are as good a comparison as I’ve ever seen.

    Your more recent column on “Blasphemy” and the Politically Correct (PC) implications at http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/blasphemy-law-only-panders-to-the-deranged-instincts-of-an-intolerant-immigrant-minority-1731139.html is getting to be a world wide phenomenon of over the top political correctness. Those of us who have watched the UK cow tow to these religious zealots are making sure our politicians are staying away from this nonsense as best we can. We already have a hate crime law that is enshrined as a component of Human Rights legislation and some journalists have been persecuted by the Canadian Human Rights Commission for being too direct when talking about Islam. Thank goodness Ezra Levant won the case but at great personal cost. Google “Ezra Levant CHRC” to see what can happen with this nonsense and his subsequent book called “Shakedown.”

    Another journalist and the magazine his article was published in called MacLeans were also in trouble by the Islamists and the Human Rights Commission. These experiences may portend what is in store for journalists in Ireland if the “do gooder” politician passes this bill. Google “Mark Steyn Macleans” for info on their saga. They also won but at a cost. Mark, in the article referred to Europe’s transformation into “Eurabia.” The original article is here. http://www.macleans.ca/culture/books/article.jsp?content=20061023_134898_134898. Your future as a journalist writing on the Islamist Totalitarian Dogma has already been wrung through the ringer of PC in Canada.

    Continue your fight against this law. It is a regressive step toward the further decline of our mutual Celtic ancestors and our cultural heritage. Read Mark’s article particularly the focus on the European declining birth rate and demographics.

    Best wishes.

    Michael Murphy cid:000a01c705ad$0add39e0$6400a8c0@mikeA2GJRT6TF9

    Independent.ie

    By Kevin Myers

    Tuesday April 07 2009

    'Protect women and children in next week's Budget', declared the headline in a press release from the National Women's Council last Friday. The statement added a couple of paragraphs later: "Women and children are at the greatest risk of poverty and all payments supporting women and children should be protected. Women are already facing serious consequences from the recession with unemployment figures showing the sectors of retail and services have been severely hit."

    So, 36 years after the foundation of the NWCI, we see what the official, government-sponsored version of Irish feminism has mutated into: the cry of the officers on the deck of the foundering Titanic -- "Women and Children First". But at least in those days there was a coherent moral order behind that command. Children were children, and women were seen to be weaker and inferior and thus voteless; gentlemen of all classes would naturally stand back and give them places in the lifeboats first.

    If there is a coherent moral order to the present thoughts of the National Women's Council, it is that words no longer mean what they used to. In the Council's prospectus for the year 2009, the word "equality" is used 38 times. Yet clearly, in the sisters' deviant vocabulary, "equality" does not mean equality of pain, or hardship or suffering or poverty. No: it means the opposite of equality. It means a protection from these conditions, regardless of what men are enduring. In other words, lifeboat-feminism, surely the most ignoble and unprincipled of all the many liberal political creeds which dominate our ethos today.

    Only a lifeboat-feminism could spout the gibberish "Women and children are at greatest risk from poverty . . . Women are already facing serious consequences from the recession", the very day after the unemployment figures were released. These showed that of the 19,600 jobs lost in March, 13,600 were those of men, and 6,000 were those of women. That is to say, job losses amongst women were just 44pc of the rate endured by men. Moreover, the area in which job losses are not going to occur, the public service, is heavily dominated by female employees. Only an organisation driven by a demented sense of counter-factual, gender self-pity could promote the fiction of female victimhood at such a time.

    And no, the NCWI press release doesn't mean "mothers", it makes no mention of mothers, not even once. Though interestingly enough, it refers to "women and children" four times, and to "women" just three times. Psychologically, this is simply placing women at the protected level of children, just as was done on the Titanic: quite an achievement for a state-subsidised feminist body in 2009, if a largely unsurprising one.

    Naturally, the National Women's Council is a quango, of which there is (equally naturally) no male equivalent. Over 70pc of its budget comes from the Department of Justice and, wait for it, Equality and Law Reform. Now, you just know that those terms "equality" and "law reform" are never intended to apply to improve the lives or the legal position of men, don't you? Other state-providers of funds to the NWC are Combat Poverty and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. So, we have two government departments and one meaningless quango subsidising yet another quango, which is simply telling untruths, and making totally unrealistic demands of the Government which is paying for it.

    This wouldn't matter if the shrill and unprincipled emanations of lifeboat-feminism were ignored. They are not. They are treated with a deferential respect by the Government and media alike. More than that, they have created a systemic imbalance in which women are consistently treated by less exacting standards than are men. The most grievous example of this of recent times concerned an Army officer who one night deserted her post as barracks-orderly, and left the armoury unprotected. She falsified the log to make it seem as if she had conducted perimeter patrols, which had never occurred, and she later lied to her commanding officer when questioned about her suspected absence from her post.

    In other words, she had betrayed the greatest single institution in Irish life, and let down her fellow soldiers in a manner for which there could be no other proper outcome: a court martial, with an ignominious dismissal from the service. Instead, she was merely fined, and allowed to retain her commission. (Dear God in heaven, what would the great Bull Callaghan or Mickie Joe Costello have made of that?)

    If the Army, the embodiment of the very qualities of steadfastness, stoicism and duty that we, as a society, most require in the maelstrom into which we are now sailing, can find itself applying the exceptionalist dogmas of lifeboat-feminism, what hope for the rest of us?

    The blades of fiscal prudence will cut hard and low over the coming months, but you can be reasonably sure that, standing no less tall at the end than they were at the beginning, will be the state-sponsored feminist institutions of Irish life. And as the suffering deepens, their cry will doubtless ring over the ice-covered decks of Irish life: "Equality For All! Women And Children First!"

    kmyers@independent.ie

    -

    ..because lying in the Family Court is CHILD ABUSE, says Fathers4Equality

    Fathers4Equality respond to recent comments by the Chief Justice of the Australian Family Court Sydney, May 7, 2009:

    A case of poor judgment

    The Chief Justice of the Family Court, Diana Bryant, has recently launched an extraordinary attack on Australia's internationally regarded 2006 Family Law amendments, by writing to the Attorney-General and asking him to urgently repeal important provisions within the amendments.

    These provisions in the family law act were specifically implemented to reduce the epidemic of false allegations and parental alienation that permeate every corridor of the Family Law Courts, to the clear detriment of the innocent children caught in the cross-fire. But Bryant wants them removed, and fails to explain how the innocent victims of maliciously false allegations would be protected without them.

    What is more astonishing it seems is that unlike the parliamentary committee that recommended these laws in the first place, the Chief Justice has not consulted widely before making such an extraordinary intervention (in fact she has not consulted with any fathers' groups at all). Rightly or wrongly, Bryant will now be perceived to have compromised views on this issue, denying her the opportunity to have played a unifying force in the process of family law reform in this country, much like the wasted opportunities of her predecessor.

    The two provisions Bryant wants specifically removed include:

    • the order of costs, at the Judge's discretion, against a parent who has been proven to have "knowingly" made false allegation in Court, and
    • unspecified actions, at the Judges's discretion, against a parent who has purposely alienated or deliberately maligned the children against the other parent

    The importance of these provisions

    These provisions have been specifically implemented to reduce the disturbingly common practices by some separated parents in making contrived and sinister allegations in Court against the other parent, and to otherwise engage in concerted efforts to destroy the relationship between the child and the other parent. This is done knowing full well the children will be irrevocably harmed in the process, both psychologically and emotionally. Yet it goes on and will continue to go on given human nature, unless we have laws to help it stop.

    So these are "good", modest provisions designed to stop misguided parents from misusing the system and abusing innocent children.

    Introduced only after extensive community consultation

    These provisions were agreed to by a bi-partisan parliamentary committee (both Labor and Libs/Nats) that went around Australia canvassing the views of all Australians for over two years. Finally this committee was so appalled at the extent of institutional abuse in the Family Court that it recommended measures to protect innocent children and parents who were victims of contrived allegations and parental alienation by spiteful ex-partners.

    But Bryant wants to override the will of the Australian people and the will of Parliament, and to completely remove all disincentives against lying in the Family Court

    Really soft penalty for a very serious crime

    Proving that someone has "knowingly" made false allegations rather than "mistakenly" or "recklessly" is quite a tall order. The standard of proof in these matters is a very tough hurdle to pass, and as a result "knowingly false" allegations have only been proven in a relatively few cases in recent years. If they are proved, they may result in a costs order, although this has been rarely applied in children's matters by the judiciary.

    Now given that perjury in any other Australian court may result in 10 years or more jail time, one must be mindful of the fact that this is a really soft penalty for a very serious crime. It is a provision however that can work as a disincentive, albeit a modest one, in dissuading many parents from lying in the Family Court in the first place.

    So these are "good", modest provisions designed as a disincentive to those misguided parents who may in a moment of weakness be tempted to make contrived allegations in Court.

    Measured responses to issues of concern

    Bryant justifies the need for these changes by suggesting that some people have misunderstood these provisions. Even if this is true, her suggested fix is a remarkable over-reaction to an issue that could be addressed through a number of simple measures.

    • Given that most parents in family law proceedings are either represented by lawyers, have visited a family relationship centre or have sought government funded legal services, a simple review could identify the cause of this misinformation from within these service providers, and provide an opportunity for corrective measures to be implemented.
    • Secondly, a request to the Attorney General to implement an educational campaign to educate parents about these provisions would go a long way in addressing any existing misconceptions, and would be a more measured and effective approach to the issue at hand.

    Given the unprecedented nature of these family law amendments, what is required are sensible, well-measured & ultimately timely approaches to these issues, in order to allow for proper outcomes based research to develop. Anything less than this would put at risk the very wellbeing of those we are trying to protect.

    Broader consultations as a first step

    1. Fathers4Equality would like to encourage the Chief Justice to put some thought into what checks and measures she would alternatively suggest be implemented, if the current provisions are removed, to protect children from the devastating damage resulting from alienation and perjury in Court. Given that lying in the Family Court and parental alienation are forms of child abuse, we stress the importance of carefully considering the implications to the welfare of children if these safeguards are removed.
    2. Secondly and in reference to a recent campaign that has promoted a less than accurate reflection of these new laws, we would ask the Chief Justice to consider making a public statement to the effect, as is the case, that no evidence exists of any escalation of child abuse as a result of the new amendments. This would be an important statement from the Chief Justice in the interests of an informed community discussion on this matter, and would help ensure that the debate is discussed in terms of facts, not innuendo.
    3. Finally, we would like to draw attention to the increasingly under-resourced and overworked child protection authorities in this country, and the fact that too many cases of genuine abuse are not thoroughly investigated, in part because of the level of false allegations emanating from the Family Court. It must be recognised that for every hour that a child protection officer is investigating a false allegation, it is one hour less protection that can be given to a child in genuine need, and this is a cost that the children of Australia simply cannot afford.

    Fathers4Equality would be open to discussing these important issues further with the Chief Justice, if she is willing to accept our invitation.

    written by Ash Patil & James Adams fathers4equality - australia http://www.fathers4equality-australia.org

    Fathers4Equality Media Spokesperson: James Adams: (email) media@fathers4equality-australia.org

    Other Media Enquiries http://www.fathers4equality-australia.org/equalparenting/f4efeedback.nsf/mediaenquiry