Two weeks ago, a Quebec court overruled a father who had grounded his daughter. It’s the end of the world as we know it.
I don’t mean to be alarmist, but when the government starts deciding the best way to discipline our children, we’re in trouble.
In this particular case, the father, who had sole custody of the 12-year-old girl, had been attempting to no avail to stop her from using the internet inappropriately. So far, he sounds like an exemplary father. Isn’t that what all parents should be doing, when we think of how many children are lured into dangerous situations by predators on the net?
However, after disconnecting their internet connection, he discovered that his daughter had circumvented his prohibition by using another computer, so he forbade her from attending her grade 8 graduation party.
That’s when the girl, with the help of her mother, took the father to court. And the Quebec judge decided that it was too cruel to deny this girl her rite of passage. The father now says he can’t raise his daughter if his authority is constantly being undermined by his ex-wife and the state, so the girl is now living with her mother, a woman who presumably is not that concerned with the 12-year-old’s internet use. Perhaps this is one reason the father was granted custody in the first place.
In other news, the Liberal majority in the Canadian Senate passed a bill last week that will outlaw spanking. Before becoming law, the bill still has to clear the House of Commons, which hopefully will exercise more common sense. I like what Conservative Senator Anne Cools—who voted against the measure—had to say: "It is an act of arrogance on our part to believe we can place laws and then say to people, 'Follow them, because we are so enlightened.'"
Isn’t that the heart of the issue? The state somehow believes that they know more than we do when it comes to raising children.
Personally, I believe the next major battle in Canadian political life will be over parental rights. We’ve already seen freedom of speech being chewed up and spit out by the Human Rights Commissions across the country. British Columbia has taken Maclean’s magazine to task for printing an article that on demographics and Islam, and Alberta has hauled Ezra Levant in front of a tribunal for republishing the Danish Muhammad cartoons, which by any reasonable standard were indeed newsworthy.
If freedom of speech, which is fundamental to our democracy, can disappear, why should we think that parents’ rights are safe?
Today in Quebec a grade 8 graduation has been declared a de facto teenage right. What’s next? Suing parents for disconnecting cable, or for forcing a child who took the car without permission to clean out the garage? The state is punishing parents who are trying to punish children. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how that’s going to turn out.
It only reached this point, of course, because families dropped the ball. But what the state fails to understand is that their track record is nothing to gloat about, either. On May 30, Terry Fox Elementary School in Barrie reported Victoria Leduc, an 11-year-old autistic girl, to the Children’s Aid Society because an educational assistant had gone to a psychic, who had told her a child in her class was being abused. She and the principal put their heads together and decided it must be this child. To the credit of the CAS, the case was dismissed almost immediately. I wouldn’t trust that school anytime soon.
Parents are the only ones who truly have a personal, vested interest in the way children turn out. We don’t want them living with us at forty, or stealing all our money, or never letting us see grandchildren. We have the most at stake. The state can afford to experiment; we cannot. Not all families are perfect, and we need measures to protect the weak. But right now the state is overstepping its bounds. The family was the first social institution; the state only came much later. Stable families can exist without a state, but a stable state cannot exist without stable families. It’s time our government institutions realized that.