Holy rash stunt, Batman! Mischief charge pending
Fathers 4 Justice protest follows on heels of Saturday's scaling of Mount Royal cross
 
KATHERINE WILTON
The Gazette

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

CREDIT: JOHN KENNEY, THE GAZETTE
A rescuer waits for a man dressed as superhero Robin to finish his cell call yesterday as a two-hour drama comes to an end on the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Benoit Leroux, who was arrested, said he did it to draw attention to the plight of fathers in custody battles.
CREDIT: GORDON BECK, THE GAZETTE
The Maasdam of the Holland American Line passes under the Jacques Cartier Bridge at 6 a.m. on an overcast holiday weekend as the first cruise ship to visit Montreal this season.

Frustrated by his inability to see his children, Benoit Leroux dressed up as Robin, Batman's sidekick, scaled the Jacques Cartier Bridge yesterday morning and unfurled a large banner demanding parental equality.

Traffic on the bridge was stopped for two hours while Montreal firefighters scaled the structure to try to persuade Leroux to come down.

When Leroux finally climbed down about 10:30 a.m., he was arrested and probably will be charged with mischief, Surete du Quebec Constable Manon Gaignard said.

During the publicity stunt, Leroux spoke live with the LCN French television network, via a cellphone, and said he was trying to draw attention to Fathers 4 Justice.

Fathers 4 Justice, an international organization that fights for fathers' rights in child-custody cases, has become famous for its headline-grabbing stunts, is campaigning for a child's right to be raised by both parents.

"If I am here climbing a bridge, it's because I have no other alternative," Leroux said in the interview. "The family courts don't recognize our rights. I haven't seen my children for two years."

Leroux said he was dressed up as a superhero "so children could understand what we are doing."

On Saturday morning, another Fathers 4 Justice activist dressed up as Spiderman and scaled the cross on top of Mount Royal. He remained there for two hours before police persuaded him to climb down. He was not charged.

A spokesperson for the group's Canadian chapter said acts of civil disobedience are the only way they can get their message publicized.

"Fathers are often denied access, have no hope of having custody of their children and are treated as nothing more than a wallet," said Steve Osborne, the spokesperson for the group's Canadian chapter, which was founded last year. It has 700 members.

"In most cases, the family courts still give sole access to the mother and often fathers are cut off from their kids."

Osborne said his group is using civil disobedience to try to persuade politicians and judges that custody of children should be divided equally between parents.

Last week, the group said it unleashed thousands of live crickets in MPs offices and court houses across Canada, including 1,000 at the Montreal courthouse.

"We want equal parenting to become the norm across Canada," Osborne said.

kwilton@thegazette.canwest.com

 The Gazette (Montreal) 2005

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