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April 26, 2012

HSLDA of Canada Launches Appeal to Supreme Court

From the HSLDA of Canada blog

Many of you have been keeping abreast of our ongoing court case in Québec on behalf of a homeschooling family who had originally been ordered to send their children to school and daycare as a “temporary protection measure.” With the assistance of HSLDA of Canada, they were able to provide educational and socialization plans that met the conditions set out by the court in order for them to continue to home educate their two eldest children and also keep their younger ones at home with them. This, in itself, was a victory for the parents. However, this case should have never succeeded against the parents in the first place, and we need to do everything possible to ensure that it never happens again.

In early March, HSLDA of Canada filed a request to appeal this case at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). Our appeal focuses on the breach of the family’s fundamental freedom to be heard by the court when the court refused to hear their witnesses. Youth Protection Services (YPS) brought a witness before the court who had never actually met the children, who claimed that the children were in need of protection. When the family tried to bring their own medical experts who disagreed, the court refused to hear from them. This is a miscarriage of justice and one we hope the SCC will correct: not just for this family, but for families across the country who may find themselves in the same situation in the future.

Appealing to the Supreme Court is a costly process. Please stand by this family and by HSLDA, as we take this case to the Supreme Court with excellence. In doing so, you are being proactive in protecting your own family from such abusive and unwarranted intrusion.

Background information

November 2010—Trial is held at Youth Chamber during which the parents are refused the right to produce a second opinion from an expert witness, while the Youth Protection attorneys’ evidence of expertise is allowed. This second opinion was necessary to address any concerns regarding parental neglect. When the parents’ attorney insisted that the expert was necessary for a fair trial, he was threatened with contempt of court.

March 2011—Youth Chamber released their judgment stating that the children were in a situation of compromise, and they must attend school or daycare unless the parents are able to provide educational and socialization plans that can be approved by Youth Protection Services YPS. We know and have tried to explain to YPS that it is not their jurisdiction to approve educational plans. The parents had to comply with the court order and provided such a well laid out plan that they have been able to homeschool ever since.

This has not been without continued intrusion in their lives. YPS has access to their home on a regular basis and they are being closely monitored with regards to numerous medical appointments that had already been a part of their lives anyway due to their children’s health issues.

April 2011—Appeal is filed with Québec Superior Court concerning the refusal to hear the parents' expert witness.

November 2011—The court rules that the second opinion is “neither useful nor necessary.” The parents file with the Québec Court of Appeal.

January 2012—Permission to appeal in order to have the expert witness heard is refused on the basis that, because there has been no final judgment, the case is not yet appealable. However, if the parents cannot have this expert heard, they are missing the main element in their favour.

March 2012—Permission to appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada is filed.

Of course, there is much more to these proceedings than this very brief summary. This is a question of fundamental rights for parents and children, where the parent-child relationship is controlled by the state through Youth Protection Services. The family we are representing could be any one of our members, in Québec or elsewhere in Canada. The parents are to be commended for wanting to stand their ground on a principled basis. They understand that the issue is not just home education, but fundamental rights for all parents, and they refuse to give up now.

We hold that the right to a fair trial and the right to be heard are not to be taken so lightly in our provincial courts. HSLDA of Canada is also determined that parental rights be respected and upheld concerning their children’s education, and that this cannot so easily be taken away based on so little evidence.

We Need Your Support

This is shaping up to be one of the most critical years in the history of homeschooling in Canada. There is a growing polarization in Canada between those who love freedom and those who seek to take it away, and homeschoolers are finding themselves in the middle of this fight. We would love to be left alone to teach our own children in peace, but the choice is not up to us.

Homeschooling is one of the most successful freedom movements in Canada and those who are seeking to restrict freedoms know this. Whether it’s in the courts, in the form of new provincial laws, or through the work of school boards and child protection agencies, homeschoolers are being increasingly targeted. While this is an incremental increase, it is very noticeable on a national scale.

Now more than ever, we need the support of homeschoolers across the country as we fight on multiple fronts for homeschooling freedom. These increased attacks should come as an encouragement to us. We have been too effective, have grown too large, have succeeded with our children and those who oppose us know this and hate it.

This is not a battle that will be won or lost in a day. I believe that homeschoolers are more effective than ever and that we are winning. Homeschooling is still legal across Canada, and we will continue to fight to keep it that way.

HSLDA of Canada was founded in 1991 to empower, protect, and encourage home educators across the country of Canada.