Three mothers who claim that their children were removed from their care as a result of faulty drug and alcohol hair tests at Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk laboratory have gone to court to call out what they see as a lack of transparency at the commission set up to review their cases.
The very people the commission was established to help want to see everything the commission has seen when looking at their story.
The three argue in court documents that Commissioner Judith Beaman, a retired provincial court judge, and her staff have failed to allow them to participate in the reviews of their cases. They want the Divisional Court to order the commission to allow them to make submissions to the commissioner and to hold hearings in their cases.
They also want to see the children’s aid society files that may have been consulted in the review of their cases, as well to get the commission to order court transcripts from their child protection proceedings to get a full picture of what role Motherisk hair tests may have played in removing their children from their care.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. The women’s lawyer, Julie Kirkpatrick, declined to comment as the matter is before the court. The commission also declined to comment.
“The Commissioner has failed to interpret her mandate correctly, has erred in law, and has exceeded her jurisdiction by not conducting her review in a way that places inadequate Motherisk testing in a factual context through a fair, transparent and thorough process,” argues part of all three women’s applications for judicial review, which were filed in court this week.
The applications go on to say that Beaman has also failed to interpret her mandate correctly by “denying all rights of participation to all affected parties, except for the Children’s Aid Society, in conducting a review.”
The Motherisk Commission was established by the provincial government earlier this year in the wake of a damning independent review which found that the hair tests at the Hospital for Sick Children lab were “inadequate and unreliable.”
The tests were used in thousands of child protection cases across the country. The independent review sparked by a Star investigation that found that prior to 2010, Motherisk did not use what is considered to be the “gold standard” hair test.
The hospital has since discontinued hair testing in the Motherisk lab, and has apologized to individuals and families who may have been affected.
The commission’s two-year mandate includes reviewing Ontario cases from between 1990 and 2015 where Motherisk may have been involved, either at the individual’s request or on Beaman’s initiative.
The commission’s review and resource centre can offer individuals counseling and, if Motherisk is determined to have played a significant role in the outcome of the person’s case, the commission can also refer them to lawyers.
Those individuals can then explore the possibility of applying to the courts to have Crown ward or adoption orders with respect to their children set aside, for example.
Two of three women who have taken their case to Divisional Court have publicly shared their stories in the past.
Christine Rupert, who specifically wants a public hearing at the commission, told the Star in 2014 that her two children were removed at birth and later adopted out.
(Beaman has said in correspondence with Rupert that the Order-in-Council from government appointing her as commissioner does not authorize her to hold a public hearing, according to court documents.)
Rupert’s two children remained in foster care because, she claims, Motherisk hair tests showed she was a heavy cocaine user — a finding she has always fiercely denied and has gone to great lengths to disprove.
Beaman did conclude in her review in April that “although it was not the only evidence supporting the decision, it is clear that the results of the Motherisk testing were a significant factor leading to the decision made in the case involving Ms. Rupert’s children,” according to an excerpt quoted in Rupert’s application to Divisional Court.
Rupert wants the court to quash that part of the conclusion, arguing that Motherisk was the only factor in her children being made Crown wards for the purpose of adoption.
Another applicant taking the commission to court is Yvonne Marchand, who is also the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit brought by law firm Koskie Minsky against Sick Kids and Motherisk’s former director and manager.
“For years, I would just cry and tell anybody who would listen that I was a good mom, but people just think you’re crazy,” Marchand told the Star earlier this year when the lawsuit was launched.
Marchand underwent a Motherisk hair test that wrongly showed she was abusing alcohol, according to her statement of claim from the lawsuit. None of the allegations have been proven in court. The statement says Marchand then went for an independent test from an accredited lab, which concluded she was negative for alcohol abuse.
But the judge at her court proceeding refused to admit the independent test because the author of the test wasn’t present, Marchand claims. The lab’s manager was in court, but Marchand, who represented herself, didn’t know how to qualify the manager as an expert in order to testify, according to the statement of claim.
She claims the judge then relied on the Motherisk test result to strip her of custody of her child, whom she said she now sees for a set number of hours a week.
Marchand was told on June 1 that her file had been requested from the children’s aid society by the Motherisk Commission, but has not been provided with any further information, according to her application for judicial review.
She says that she also asked that the commission order transcripts from her case, but has received no response.
The third applicant is a mother whose child protection case is ongoing — she is appealing a lower court’s decision to make her child a Crown ward without access.
After reviewing files from the children’s aid society, Beaman concluded in March that there was “no reasonable basis” related to Motherisk hair testing to question “the legal process or existing status quo” of the woman’s child, according to the woman’s application for judicial review.
She wants the Divisional Court to quash that conclusion.
A Motherisk hair test showed that the woman and her child both tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. The woman, who denies that she was using cocaine, argues in her court application that the positive cocaine test was the only reason that her child was apprehended by children’s aid.
The woman argues in her court application that the Motherisk Commission relied on the ruling of the trial judge to make her child a Crown ward without access, even though that decision is currently under appeal.
The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Irwin Elman, continues to express concerns about the way the Motherisk Commission operates, and told the Star in an interview that he believes the three women raise questions that the commission should be considering.
Elman especially wants the commission to review every one of the thousands of child protection cases that used a Motherisk hair strand test.
(The independent review that led to the creation of the commission recommended that the commission should not look at every case as it “would be a formidable, time-consuming, expensive, and impractical exercise.”)
“For young people or former young people, it might not be perceived as a burden for someone to review their file,” Elman told the Star. “For young people who were or are in care, knowing the truth about what happened to them might in fact be a remedy.”
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Its a tragic fact that Ontario spends billions of dollars on the country's largest Criminal Cartel of Children's Aid Societies who are experts at fabricating evidence.
They rely on manufactured expert evidence that their OWN judges, former lawyers for the Children's Aid Societies rely on absolutely knowing that their own experts are some of the despicable forms of humanity around.
In Ottawa, one Dr. David Alexander McLean knowingly fabricated a very large number of reports to assist the Children's Aid Societies of Ottawa to achieve success in Ottawa Courts using corrupt Judges who are former lawyers for the Children's Aid Society.
There is an ongoing campaign by the Children's Aid Societies of Ontario to "stack the courts" with their own lawyers who justify the every increasing funding to Ontario's criminal child abusers, the Children's Aid Societies who spend most of their resources ensuring that children never see their fathers again.
Ottawa Mens Centre
Dr. David Alexander McLean