September 4, 2008
Dozens of people took to the streets, some costumed as super heros, to march with Fathers 4 Justice Canada in Sarnia Tuesday evening.
The group was staging demonstrations in seven municipalities across Southwestern Ontario as part of its crusade to amend family law legislation.
About 30 people made the walk from the library at Wellington and Christina streets to Centennial Park, a few garbed in Batman or Robin costumes, although most preferred to remain in their street clothes.
"It's hard to get some people dressed in the costumes," said F4J Ontario Director Denis Van Decker. "I was hoping for a few more super heros. But hey, we got at least one local guy and hopefully people will start understanding why we do it."
The super hero costumes
symbolize the hero roles dads play to their children.
Brian Bedard was one of the demonstrators who dressed up for the march.
He says he's fed up with family court systems that treat cases as sole matters of money and are carrying unfair gender stigmas.
"What we've forgot about in this whole thing is the children," he said. "And that's the most important thing. The children are what matters."
Bedard has custody of his son, but pays support to his divorced wife.
"The system itself is trying
to make up for mistakes of years gone by," he said.
"After 20 years, as it stands, they're saying I have to pay support for the rest of my life. So I'm being held hostage."
Levi Webb, 16, showed up to march with his mother and stepfather to support the message that action should be taken to fix the failing system.
"I'm just out here to support a cause that's being overlooked," he said.
His stepfather's ex-wife has custody of their children and took them, years ago, to live in Saskatchewan.
"When he does get to see
them, they don't even talk to him because they're being manipulated and brainwashed against him," said Webb.
The protests and marches for F4J are focused around the Equal Parenting Private Members Motion M483.
But with the expected dissolution of parliament for an October election, that focus will have to change, said Van Decker.
"The focus is still equal parenting," he said. But, "definitely we have to go into an election strategy.
"And the election strategy will be making sure each politician is on the record for whether or not they support equal parenting."
The organization will have to change gears from rallies outside courthouses and street marches to visiting candidate meetings, campaign offices and putting politicians' "feet to the fire."
One of the most important steps, he said, is creating local groups to contribute to a cohesive national organization.
"They can't ignore the issue, which frankly is what's been happening for too long," he said.