A judge’s ruling in Ontario Family Court provides excellent analysis of the social division caused by the government’s mishandling of the Covid pandemic and the pandora’s box of maladies that have bled into marital relations.
In a court ruling released in late February, Judge Alex Pazaratz ruled against a father who wanted to vaccinate two children, ages 10 and 12, over the objections of their alleged ‘antivaxxer’ mother. The court’s judgment did not go well for him. Read on.
The judge opened with making a few bold salvos at the current social environment, which is divided by ‘political correctness.’
“When did it become illegal to ask questions?” the judge wrote. “Especially in the courtroom? And when did it become unfashionable for judges to receive answers? Especially when children’s lives are at stake?”
“How did we lower our guard and let the words ‘unacceptable beliefs’ get paired together? In a democracy? On the Scales of Justice?” he went on.
“Should judges sit back as the concept of ‘Judicial Notice’ gets hijacked from a rule of evidence to a substitute for evidence,” he added. “And is ‘misinformation’ even a real word? Or has it become a crass, self -serving tool to pre-empt scrutiny and discredit your opponent? To de-legitimize questions and strategically avoid giving answers.”
“Blanket denials are almost never acceptable in our adversarial system,” he continued. “Each party always has the onus to prove their case and yet ‘misinformation’ has crept into the court lexicon. A childish – but sinister – way of saying ‘You’re so wrong, I don’t even have to explain why you’re wrong’.”
“In fact, earlier in the pandemic the father went to court complaining the mother was being too protective of the children when it came to COVID,” the judge went on. “In August 2020 the father brought a motion trying to compel the children to attend school in person for the 2020-2021 school year. The mother argued that the risk of COVID exposure was too high; she was particularly concerned about the oldest child’s medical vulnerability as a result of his history of asthma; and she proposed remote learning for the children until the pandemic risk subsided.”
The basic facts are not disputed, the judge stated:
On September 23, 2020 Justice Bale issued a lengthy endorsement dismissing the father’s motion, and confirming that the mother’s position was appropriate and in the best interests of the children.
h. In 2020 the father alleged the mother was being too protective about COVID. Now he’s saying she’s not protective enough. He brought a motion dated January 25, 2022 requesting that L.E.G. and M.D.G. receive the COVID vaccine and all recommended booster vaccines. He also asks that he be permitted to arrange the vaccinations and attend with the children, because he doesn’t trust that the mother will comply even if she is ordered to do so.
i. Meanwhile, soon after the parties signed Minutes in October 2021 the older child C.B.G. elected to be vaccinated. Both parents supported his decision. He’s had two shots, and the parents agree he has exhibited no adverse effects.
j. The mother insists the father is misrepresenting her position. She is not opposed to vaccines. She is offended by the pejorative term “anti-vaxxer”. She has always ensured that the three children received all of their regular immunizations. She says she’s open minded to vaccinating both younger children if safety concerns can be better addressed. But she says her extensive research has left her with well-founded concerns that the potential benefit of the current COVID vaccines for L.E.G. and M.D.G. is outweighed by the serious potential risks. She says there are too many unknowns, and she worries that “once children are vaxed, they can’t be unvaxed.” The mother notes that both children have already had COVID – with minimal symptoms – and they have recovered completely. She refers to medical research which says that since they have already recovered from COVID, the children now have greater protection from future infection.
l. Both parents agree L.E.G. and M.D.G. are in excellent health, with no special medical needs or vulnerabilities.
m. Neither parent provided any evidence from a medical professional about any potential positive or negative considerations with respect to these children receiving COVID vaccines.
 The mother’s evidence focused entirely on the medical and scientific issues.
 In contrast, the father focussed extensively on labelling and discrediting the mother as a person, in a dismissive attempt to argue that her views aren’t worthy of consideration.
a. This odious trend is rapidly corrupting modern social discourse: Ridicule and stigmatize your opponent as a person, rather than dealing with the ideas they want to talk about.
b. It seems to be working for politicians.
c. But is this really something we want to tolerate in a court system where
parental conduct and beliefs are irrelevant except as they impact on a parent’s
ability to meet the needs of a child?
The father’s affidavits included the following:
a. “I am aware that the Applicant has political affiliations with the People’s Party of Canada. The Applicant is entitled to her personal beliefs and ideologies, but I am very fearful that it is having a direct, negative impact on the children, especially when it comes to this vaccine issue.”
b. “I searched the Applicant’s recent Facebook postings and was alarmed to see just how involved the Applicant is at perpetuating COVID-related conspiracy theories and vaccine hesitancy.”
c. He attached “a collection of some of the Applicant’s Facebook postings ….. which I believe are indicative of her personal views.”
d. “The Applicant is a self-proclaimed ‘PPC founding member’. In my opinion, she is openly promoting very dangerous beliefs. Surely, these thoughts and feelings are also being promoted in her household, which is where L.E.G. and M.D.G. primarily reside.”
e. “I looked up what the PPC stance is on the COVID-19 vaccine and was not surprised to read under its website’s “FACTS” section that “lockdowns, mask mandates, school closures and other authoritarian sanitary measures have not had any noticeable effect on the course of the pandemic.” Unfortunately, no facts are actually provided.”
f. He attaches a copy of the PPC’s COVID Policy taken from its website.
g. “I am alarmed that the children are being exposed to the Applicant’s unsupported views on the issue of the pandemic, and in particular the efficacy of the available and Government-recommended vaccines.”
h. “The Applicant’s anti-vaccination stance is much more severe than that of a regular concerned parent, who is unsure whether or not she wants the children to receive a relatively new vaccine. Rather, the Applicant is leading the charge, attending anti-vaccine rallies and refusing to follow COVID protocols.”
i. He attaches a Facebook posting of the mother not wearing a mask “in a crowd of 10,000 people at a rally.”
j. He makes other references to the mother’s Facebook account, and attaches numerous pictures of her social media pages.
k. He attaches photographs of PPC leader Maxime Bernier addressing an audience.
“Where to begin,” the judge said.
a. How is any of this relevant?
b. Have we reached the stage where parental rights are going to be decided based on what political party you belong to?
c. Is being seen with Maxime Bernier – or anyone, for that matter – the kiss of death, as far as your court case is concerned?
d. Can you simply utter the words “conspiracy theorist” and do a mic drop?
e. If you allege that someone is “openly promoting very dangerous beliefs”, shouldn’t you provide a few details. A bit of proof, maybe?
f. And if you presume that a parent believes things they shouldn’t believe – can you go one step further and also presume that the parent must be poisoning their children’s minds with these horrible unspecified ideas? (“Surely, these thoughts and feelings are also being promoted in her household…”)
g. The father criticizes the mother for something she didn’t say. He presumes she doubts the effectiveness of school closures, and then criticizes her for providing no evidence. But on this motion she didn’t raise the issue. And back in 2020 she was the one who wanted to keep the children out of school, and he fought (unsuccessfully) for them to attend. As with other allegations, the father provides no evidence of his own, and fails to address the fact that vigorous community debate led to school closures being abandoned.
h. How far are we willing to take “guilt by association”? If you visit a website, read a book, or attend a meeting — are you permanently tarnished by something someone else wrote or said? At what point do the “thought police” move in?
i. And really, how fine is the line between “vaccine hesitancy” and “not taking any chances with your kid”? All of the caselaw says judges have to act with the utmost caution and consider all relevant evidence in determining the best interests of the child. How can we then impose a lesser standard on a demonstrably excellent parent?
“It is of little consequence that an individual litigant chooses to advance such dubious and offensive arguments,” Judge Pazaratz remarked. “Even though the father may not admit it, this is still a free country and people can say what they want. Including him.”
“But there’s a bigger problem here. An uglier problem,” he went on. “We’re seeing more and more of this type of intolerance, vilification and dismissive character assassination in family court. Presumably we’re seeing it inside the courtroom because it’s rampant outside the courtroom. It now appears to be socially acceptable to denounce, punish and banish anyone who doesn’t agree with you.”
“A chilling example: I recently had a case where a mother tried to cut off an equal-time father’s contact with his children, primarily because he was ‘promoting anti-government beliefs’,” the judge noted. “And in Communist China, that request would likely have been granted.”
“But this is Canada and our judicial system has an obligation to keep it Canada,” the judge went on. “I won’t belabor the point, because I still have to get to my real job: determining what’s in the best interests of these two children. But the word needs to get out that while the court system won’t punish intolerance, it certainly won’t reward it either.”
Read the entire excellent court judgment below:
Ontario Family Court Decision: J.N. v. C.G. by Kyle Becker on Scribd
The Toronto Star on reported on Thursday that government workers in Ontario will no longer be mandated to get the Covid vaccines as a condition of employment, nor be forced to ‘test out’ of the requirement.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.