'Boy Wonder' shuts down bridge

By Tom Zytaruk

September 29, 2004



The Surrey RCMP and New Westminster police are no superheroes for closing the Pattullo Bridge on Saturday morning, says a man who dressed up as Robin and perched on the bridge for nearly five hours to protest what he believes is court bias in child custody cases.

Hal Legere - a.k.a. the Boy Wonder - was arrested after climbing onto the girders high above the bridge deck at about 4 a.m. Saturday and unfurling a large banner supporting Fathers4Justice.

"A charge of mischief will be recommended to Crown counsel," Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dave Attfield said.

The traffic congestion that resulted enraged even Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum.

"He's just seeking publicity," said McCallum, adding that "thousands" of motorists were inconvenienced by the stunt. "He should get treated as harsh as the courts can."

But Legere doesn't agree.

"The police, in order to establish the justification to charge me with something because of the political aspects of what I was doing, blocked the bridge," he said.

But Surrey RCMP Const. Marc Searle said police had to close the bridge because they couldn't tell what Legere planned to do.

"Safety is paramount," he said. "You always approach this with an abundance of caution."

Fathers4Justice has been staging protests in the UK for some time now, "campaigning for children's rights to see both parents." But the group is new to Canada and the U.S. Some members dress up as comic book superheroes and stage zany public protests against what they perceive to be unnecessarily adversarial court systems that are biased against dads in child custody cases.

Legere, 48, is a New Westminster steam engineer who shares custody of his three sons with his ex-wife, following court battles he says cost about $150,000 since the couple separated in 1998.

Asked why he dressed as Robin, Legere, Fathers4Justice co-ordinator for B.C., said "the whole idea that it came from is fathers are superheroes to their children."

He said he was prepared to stay up on the bridge - with his 10 foot by four foot banner - all weekend, until police told him to get down.

Legere said he showed police his safety harness and WCB-approved safety lanyards, and suggested that they should move their cars as they were causing "unnecessary blockage of traffic."

Legere said he expects similar stunts across the county if some changes aren't made to the family court system soon.

"We're fed up with the crap," he said.

Maple Ridge resident Rob Robinson pulled the group's first protest stunt in Canada in May, when he dressed up as Batman and perched atop a 120-foot-high crane in Burnaby for 18 hours.

His stunt netted him a mischief charge. As for Legere, he said, "I thought what he did was great. Spiderman's a-coming, that's all I can tell you."

Steve Osborne, national co-ordinator of Fathers4Justice, says fathers are losing contact with their children all over Canada.

"We have no effective mechanisms to enforce access orders," he said in an interview from St. John, New Brunswick.