Patulla Bridge Protest in Vancouver BC
Saturday, September 25, 2004 10:30 AM Pacific time
In the pre-dawn fog over the Fraser River in British Columbia, on Canada's west coast.
300 feet over the river Robin rolled out a Fathers-4-Justice Banner and took up the quest to bring truth, justice and equality to family law in Canada where Batman left off with the Burnaby Crane Protest. Robin expects to spend as long as he can on top of the Patulla Bridge .
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Fathers 4 Justice, a burgeoning pressure group crusading for fathers'
custodial rights to their children, may have a valid concern about Canada's
inconsistent family justice system. But if the group is seeking to win the sympathy and support of Lower Mainland residents, it should rethink its strategies. It's one thing to dress up like a comic book superhero and hang a banner off a crane or stage a placard protest at the steps of the B.C. Supreme Court, but it is quite another to tie up traffic on the Pattullo Bridge for five
hours. Fathers 4 Justice Canada -- the Canadian branch of F4J in Britain -- did
just that last Saturday, to the anger and frustration of thousands of
early-morning motorists who got stuck in gridlock when three costumed
protesters scaled the narrow bridge and a nearby overpass.
The activist fathers -- with an estimated 2,500 aggrieved members nationwide
-- undermine and marginalize their own cause with such stunts. Indeed, their
criminal acts comprise behaviour unbefitting a responsible father.
The Pattullo Bridge stunt echoed recent public protests in Britain, where
one F4J member breached security to scale a Buckingham Palace wall and
others threw condoms filled with purple-stained flour at Prime Minister Tony
Blair in the House of Commons. A local "foot soldier in the cause" told The Province such radical measures are necessary to raise public awareness and affect changes to laws currently favouring mothers in custody battles.
"We've tried every other way to get the message out," argued Rob Stone,
adding the courts allotted him 2.5 hours access to his infant son each week,
and two hours every second Christmas following an "amicable separation" from the child's mother. "Some fathers have been pushed over the edge and will go that extra length to get the word out. We're treated as a chequebook in our children's' lives."
While F4J argues that mothers are granted sole custody in almost 90 per cent
of Canadian cases, surely there are other legal routes and official processes for fathers frustrated with the status quo. F4J Canada members in B.C. have begun lobbying candidates who are seeking voter support in the upcoming B.C. election race and MLAs currently in office for changes to family law, said Stone.
These measures are more apt to win the group sympathizers and supporters
than they will closing down arterial roads and bridges with silly stunts.
What do you think? Leave a brief comment, name and town at: 604-604-2099,
fax: 604-605-2099 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
RESPONSE FROM F4J CANADA
I was thrilled to see the Province take a public position this morning on
the issues near and dear to the hearts of the Fathers-4-Justice family as a
result of Robin's recent visit to the lower mainland. The issue of the lack
of such concepts as truth, justice and equality in family law has been too
long ignored in Canada's media, stifling crucial debate on what is best
described now as the western world's next great social issue - rights as
they relate to the family.
As a peaceful grass-roots movement we at Fathers-4-Justice have pursued
family law reform via the remedies you suggest herein only to find our voice
overwhelmed by publicly funded - well funded -lobby groups and our concerns
summarily ignored. We have found the systems you suggest we take advantage of to be clogged with lobbyists using public funds and civil servants at all levels of government ready, willing and somehow able to prevent our message from being heard on the basis of personal ideological belief.
Elected representation in Canada is isolated from community views by
advisors in Departments of Justice and political correctness. Training
provided in secret at the National Judicial Institute to judges openly makes
mockery of the fundamental principles of justice guaranteed in the Charter.
The Supreme Court of Canada, the National Judicial Institute, the Canadian
Judicial Council and the Canada Court Challenges Program are immune to
requests made under freedom of information provisions in legislation
designed to create an open, accountable government for all.
Truly, we have no access to the avenues you describe, such as they exist in
Canada today. In a political climate of that nature our options are limited, however our resolve remains strong and grows stronger daily. At F4J Canada we have a growing list of members willing to don costumes to make our message visible and known, all keenly aware of the personal cost of actions such as Robin's on the Patullo Bridge.
All are also keenly aware that whether they live in the U.K., Canada,
Australia or The Netherlands, together we are Fathers-4-Justice and when we
speak to the issue of family law reform the world listens - you know who we
are. I suspect that if the Prime Minister were to find that a Canadian Steamship
Lines vessel was denied access to its passage through a waterway, as we have
been denied access to our children, he would come to understand quickly that
he has a personal interest in creating a statutory presumption of parental
equality. Paul Martin's public responsibility to s. 15 of the Charter seems
to be all too easily ignored, hence he now finds himself to be welcomed to
You can reasonably expect to see us fighting for our rights, and our
children's rights, in the very near future.
National Coordinator and Spokesperson