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 Canadian Senator speaks for fathers in the U.S.

 

http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/columnists/story.asp?id=5D84F915-FE65-4FF7-9AAD-812AD8DAB1F8

The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, June 08, 2002

Senator speaks for fathers
by Dave Brown

Senator Anne Cools is becoming something of a star in the United States
with her pro-father politics.

The International Fatherhood Conference in Washington, D.C., on May 27 --
at which Ms. Cools was a keynote speaker -- drew 2,000 delegates. When she
was introduced, according to Howard University political science professor
Stephen Baskerville, who attended the event, she drew a standing ovation.
When she finished, he said, the crowd was again on its feet roaring approval.

Asked about the different attitudes between the countries, Ms. Cools said
Thursday: "In Canada we (pro-family and pro-divorce reform) have the
support of the public, but the government won't act. It's the reverse in the
U.S."

Some excerpts from her speech:

"Misguided social policies of the last many decades have been reckless
with children's lives. Misguided policies have created fatherlessness.
Misguided policies in social welfare law, in family law, in divorce law,
in child welfare law ... Fathers face courts, laws, and systems that will
not hear their voices ...

"The economic consequences of a father's absence are often accompanied by
psychological consequences, which include higher-than-average levels of
youth suicide, low intellectual and educational performance and higher
than average rates of mental illness ... "

Quoting a 1996 Gallup poll, she said 79.1 per cent of Americans agreed
that the most significant social problem facing the U.S. was, and is,
fatherlessness.

Ms. Cools used three Canadian cases to highlight her call for changes, as
Americans and Canadians face courts with similar attitudes. First was an
Ontario case (Oldfield v. Oldfield, 1991) in which a former wife appealed
for court approval to move with her children to France to marry her
boyfriend. The judge ruled there was a loving and caring relationship
between the children and their father, but he was in a tight corner. In
the end, the judge said he was forced to make a ruling that defeated the
best interests of the children by removing one parent and giving custody
to "a mother who loves them dearly but who is shackled by her discontent."

The romance failed, the marriage didn't happen and the judge later
increased the father's already substantial support payments to cover the
cost of flying the children back and forth for visits.

The second case (heard in the B.C. Supreme Court in January 2000) involved
the removal of a child from loving adoptive parents after the birth father
challenged the adoption. He showed he had offered to raise the child, but
the unmarried mother had refused. The mother later told the court she was
coached by a social worker from an adoption agency. The court ruled the
natural parent's right to parent had to be honoured.

The third story involves Darrin Bruce White, 34, a B.C. railroad engineer
who committed suicide in March 2000, after being ordered by a court to pay
support twice as much as his income.

"The number of suicides of fathers like this is high and climbing. This
was a case of yet another father crushed by this grinding system of family
law, family support payment regime ... as money they do not have is
extracted and gouged out of them."

The conclusion Ms. Cools makes in her speech echoed a 1965 report by
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then U.S. assistant secretary of labour. The
report has been revisited through the 1990s and is still quoted as a
definitive work.

"Children without fathers will flounder and fail," Ms. Cools quoted from
the study. "We should dust off this report and re-examine it."

In closing, she called for more support for men from women. "I urge all
women here to take the lead in America in politics and in public affairs
to uphold a new definition of womanhood, which includes the love of men
and children. I urge you all to support fathering as a pressing public and
social policy issue, a major political initiative, and to vindicate the
entitlement of children to the love and support of both parents."

Ms. Cools says she came away from the conference with a new idea. "I met
people from Atlanta who last year rescued 4,000 men. They were men about
to be jailed for three months for contempt of court (for non-payment).
They said, 'Don't send them to jail, give them to us and let us work with
them and show them how to be proud to be fathers and meet their
obligations.' "

Ms. Cools is now trying to determine if a similar program should be in
place in Canada. First, she has to find out how many are being jailed.

Dave Brown is the Citizen's senior editor.
Send e-mail to
dbrown@thecitizen.southam.ca
Read previous columns by Dave Brown at www.ottawacitizen.com
[Find his previous columns at:
http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/info/columnists/brown.html ]

According to Mr. Baskerville, the purpose of the three-day conference was
not to protest, but to encourage men to accept with pride their roles as
fathers, and if necessary fight for them.

Copyright 2002 The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa Citizen Home: 
http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/

~~~~~~

http://ancpr.org/senator_cools_stuns_washington_i.htm

[Canadian Senator Anne Cools on Fatherhood -- 27 May 02]

International Fatherhood Conference: The 2002 Conference was organized by
the National Center for Strategic Nonprofit Planning and Community
Leadership and sponsored by, among others, the District of Columbia and
the states of Virginia and Maryland.

Senator Anne Cools, Parliament of Canada

"VOICES OF WOMEN IN THE FATHERHOOD MOVEMENT"
INTERNATIONAL FATHERHOOD CONFERENCE
MAY 27, 2002, WASHINGTON, D.C.

"A child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts."
-William Wordsworth [1]

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am honoured to join you here
today at this International Fatherhood Conference organized by the
National Planning for Strategic Nonprofit Planning and Community
Leadership based here in Washington, D.C. As a federal Senator, a woman
from Canada, I am pleased to address the subject matter of fatherhood. I
believe that many here know of my work in the Parliament of Canada on
behalf of fatherhood, and against its diabolical opposite, fatherlessness,
my work upholding the needs of children for meaningful relationships with
both their parents, both mothers and fathers. At the outset, I would like
to situate myself with women who support fatherhood, and who support the
entitlement of children to the love and support of both parents, both
their mothers and fathers. Further, I also wish to situate myself with
those who view the birth of every child as an act of God, of divine
creation. Children are gifts of God.

Ladies and gentlemen, I view life as a pilgrimage, a journey of
discovering God's plan for us. My journey has involved challenging radical
gender feminist ideology, an ideology which has contributed enormously to
the devaluation of fatherhood and of manhood in general. I believe that
any diminution of fatherhood is a diminution of motherhood and a
diminution of parenthood. I invite women's voices to become a chorus for
fatherhood. As a woman's voice speaking for fathers, I shall begin by
quoting the scriptures on fatherhood. The New Testament book Ephesians,
chapter 3, verse 14 and 15, the New Jerusalem Bible tells us:

14. This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father,
15. from whom every fatherhood, in heaven or on earth, takes its name. [2]

In some Bibles, the word fatherhood is replaced by the word family. The
King James Version, for example, states:

14. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15. Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, [3]

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to cite one example of a famous father, Sir
Thomas More, an extraordinary man, with an extraordinary relationship with
his children. A great lawyer, a Lord Chancellor in England, Sir Thomas
More was charged, tried, found guilty of treason and executed in 1535
because he morally and politically defied King Henry VIII. His unstinting
devotion to his children, particularly to his daughter Margaret Roper and
to his son-in-law William Roper is legendary. On his way from prison to
the scaffold, Sir Thomas More met his family members. His efforts to
comfort them are well known. He looked at the weeping face of his beloved
daughter Margaret. She embraced him. This was a terrible moment of a most
terrible ordeal. He said farewell to her and asked her and not to watch
him be executed. As a father, he could not bear that. He said:

". This, my child, is not kind of you. You should let your dear old father
die as he has always tried to live, bravely, my child. Go, my daughter,
beyond the tower where I shall not see you, and you will know when a hush
falls upon the people that your old father has passed beyond the voices of
this weary world for ever." [4]

Saint Sir Thomas More loved his children deeply. Most fathers feel the
same. Sir Thomas More's daughter's voice was a woman's voice for
fatherhood. Fathers are important in their children's lives. Misguided
social policies of the last many decades have been reckless with children'
s lives. Misguided policies have created fatherlessness. Misguided
policies in social welfare law, in family law, in divorce law, in child
welfare law, in abortion law have resulted in national problems, in our
crises of father alienation and fatherlessness. Fathers, men, face courts,
laws, and systems that will not hear their voices.

Ladies and gentlemen, I shall share with you 3 cases studies of men,
fathers before the courts seeking to love their children. These cases are
first a divorce, second a birth father challenging the adoption of his
child, and third a father's tragic suicide. These are three cases among
hundreds of thousands where fathers face courts that do not hear fathers'
pain, their needs, their love for their children or their voices. The
first is the case of Oldfield v. Oldfield, a 1991 Ontario Court of Justice
(General Division) divorce case in which the ex-wife asked the court to
allow her to move their children from Canada to France to marry her
boyfriend. About the children's relationship with their father, the judge,
Mr. Justice Blair, said, at paragraph 5:

"That this is a loving and caring relationship is apparent." [5]

About the mother's wish to move the children to Europe away from their
father and close to her boyfriend, her prospective husband, Mr. Justice
Blair said, at paragraph 6:

"Is it 'in the best interests of the children' to make an order which
effectively
defeats this prospect and leaves them in the daily care of a mother who
loves them dearly but who is shackled by her discontent?" [6]

The judge ruled. The judge permitted her to move with the children to
France. This case revealed the exaltation of an adult's, the mother's,
personal love life, personal happiness, over the children's need for their
close relationship with their father. Interestingly, the marriage to her
boyfriend never ensued. Later, in 1995, in another proceeding, the same
Mr. Justice Blair increased the father's already large child support
payments to finance the children's trips to visit him in Canada. Certainly
the term 'best interests of the child' does not mean the mother's or
either parents' romantic interest. Certainly the first interest of the
best interests of the child means the child's interest, its own
relationship with its two parents, both its father and mother.

Ladies and gentlemen, the second case is about an adoption. The birth
mother favoured adoption but the birth father opposed the adoption from
the start. He offered to either marry or live with the birth mother and
raise the child together with her, or failing these, he offered to raise
the child himself. She, the birth mother, was adamant. She placed the
child for adoption. [7] He went to court and challenged the adoption. He
won. In a British Columbia Supreme Court judgement of January 4, 2000,
British Columbia Birth Registration No.99-0733 (Re), Mr. Justice Paris
said, at paragraph 6:

"She testified that she now feels that she made a mistake in placing the
child for adoption. . She now feels, rightly or wrongly, that the social
worker from the adoption agency with whom she dealt was effectively
pushing her in the direction of adoption by warning her that if she named
the father his consent to the adoption would be necessary." [8]

The judge took the child from the adoptive parents and gave the child to
the natural birth father. Many men, fathers, have faced enormous legal and
systemic challenges.

The third case study is the tragic suicide of a 34 year old man from
British Columbia named Darrin Bruce White. He had been, as had his
ex-wife, a railroad locomotive engineer. He was on disability with a
disposable income of about $1,000 per month. On March 1, 2000, the court
ordered him to pay his ex-wife a total of $2, 071 per month, being $1,07l
in child support plus $1,000.00 for spousal support for herself, with the
first payment due immediately. He was ordered to pay twice his real income
on disability. He disappeared a few days later and was found dead in the
woods shortly thereafter. He had hanged himself. Two weeks before he
killed himself, a doctor had indicated that Mr. White was suffering from
divorce related depression, cognitive impairment and an inability to
concentrate, and that he was not fit to work even part-time. The doctor
was obviously correct. One ponders why the court could not discover this
fact. The court documents reveal marked harshness to Mr. White and also
disregard for his personal emotional state and needs. His income level
seemed to be the court's major concern. In the March 1, 2000 judgement,
Master Baker stated, at paragraph 11:

"I must conclude that the current interruption to the defendant's income
stream is temporary and of short duration." [9]

Yet the same court defended his ex-wife's right not to be expected to work
and to receive financial support payments from him, though she was also a
locomotive engineer. Master Baker stated, at paragraph 5:

"It may be that the plaintiff can return to her former employment as a
railroad engineer or perhaps trainman, but it is not reasonable at this
time to expect a quick return to that or similar employment in the
immediately foreseeable future." [10]

This young man was overtaken by despondency. The number of suicides of
fathers like this is high and climbing. This was a case of yet another
father crushed by this grinding system of family law, family support
payment regime. This man's feelings, like many men's feelings, were not
received by the system, as money they do not have is extracted and gouged
out of them. His voice is silent.

Ladies and gentlemen, I come now to the well known 1965 Moynihan Report
entitled The Negro Family: The Case for National Action written for the
United States Department of Labor's Office of Policy Planning and Research
by Daniel Patrick Moynihan the then Assistant Secretary of Labor. The
Report stated:

"At the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the
deterioration of the Negro family. It is the fundamental source of the
weakness of the Negro community at the present time." [11]

In the next paragraph, the Report continued:

"It is more difficult, however, for whites to perceive the effect that
three centuries of exploitation have had on the fabric of Negro society
itself. Here the consequences of the historic injustices done to Negro
Americans are silent and hidden from view. But here is where the true
injury has occurred: ." [12]

The Report cited testimony saying:

"Both as a husband and as a father the Negro male is made to feel
inadequate, ." [13]

and that:

"The Negro wife in this situation can easily become disgusted with her
financially dependent husband, and her rejection of him further alienates
the male from family life." [14]

Moynihan's Report hit hard, declaring that:

"Negro children without fathers flounder-and fail." [15]

Children without fathers will flounder and fail. We should dust off this
Report and re-examine it.

Ladies and gentlemen, all social science tells us that fatherlessness is a
major social problem as do the public opinion surveys. A 1996 Gallop Poll
on fathering entitled "Fathers in America" commissioned by the National
Center for Fathering based in Kansas, reveal that 79.1% of Americans agree
that the most significant social problem facing America is fatherlessness
and father absence. [16] In a 1990 article entitled A Progressive Family
Policy for the 1990s published by the Progressive Policy Institute, social
scientists Elaine Ciulla Kamarck and William A. Galston addressed the
enormous social consequences of fatherlessness. They said:

"The economic consequences of a parent's absence (almost always the father
's) are often accompanied by psychological consequences, which include
higher than average levels of youth suicide, low intellectual and
educational performance, and higher than average rates of mental illness,
violence, and drug use. . . . Equally suggestive is the anecdotal evidence
of the difficulties many young single mothers experience in raising their
sons. The absence of fathers as models and codisciplinarians is thought to
contribute to the low self-esteem, anger, violence, and peer-bonding
through gang membership of many fatherless boys." [17]

Elaine Ciulla Kamarck and William A. Galston continued:

"Nowhere is this more evident than in the long-standing and strong
relationship between crime and one-parent families. . . . The relationship
is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the
relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This
conclusion shows up time and time again in the literature; poverty is far
from the sole determinant of crime."

The connection between family structure, fathering and the well-being of
society is the burning question of the day. Governments, courts, and the
law should adopt this position. In 1993, the then Senator, the same Daniel
Patrick Moynihan, in an article Defining Deviancy Down published in the
American Scholar, revisited his 1960's work and wrote:

"In 1965, having reached the conclusion that there would be a dramatic
increase in single-parent families, I reached the further conclusion that
this would in turn lead to a dramatic increase in crime. In an article in
America, I wrote:

"From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern seaboard to the
riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in
American history: a community that allows a large number of young men to
grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable
relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational
expectations about the future - that community asks for and gets chaos.
Crime, violence, unrest, unrestrained lashing out at the whole social
structure - that is not only to be expected; it is very near to inevitable."

The inevitable, as we now know, has come to pass, ." [18]

Ladies and gentlemen, many in this room work in their communities to
correct this massive human problem called fatherlessness. I encourage them
to persevere in bringing fathers and children together, in mending broken
families. This is the work of the heart and soul of any nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, at the outset, I cited Ephesians. I said that in
parenting and fatherhood God's divinity is joined to our humanness.
I believe that parenting, fatherhood, is redemptive, as God the Father
redeemed us in Jesus Christ the son, there is redemption in good
fathering. Fatherhood is redemptive and regenerative because of the
remedial and restorative influences of the natural and pure human
relations, that is, the father-child relationship. I searched for an
articulation of the redemption that is fathering and fatherhood, wishing
to express the depth of the father-child bond, of the father-child
attachment and affection. I found it in a woman's voice for fatherhood.
I found it in fiction in a literary classic, in a 19th-century novel written
by a woman, George Eliot, the pen name for Mary-Ann Evans. This novel,
Silas Marner, is the story of the miraculous healing and redemption of
Silas Marner, a weaver. Silas was a broken, closed, selfish, unhappy
hermit, with a hoard of money. In his isolation, he shared nothing,
neither his goods nor his being. His sad, inadequate life worsened when he
was robbed of his money. One night, during a bad snowstorm, a woman
and her small child struggled, on foot, on the road near Silas's cottage.
Exhausted and freezing, the child's mother collapsed and died. The child,
desperate, frightened and alone, crawled into Silas' cottage, and
simultaneously crawled into his life. Silas took this child as his own
daughter. He adopted her and named her Eppie. He viewed this child not as
a burden but as a gift and a blessing. He cared for her, raised her, and
loved her. This child, Eppie, transformed Silas Marner into a fulfilled
and whole human being. The novelist, George Eliot, showed in fiction, in
literature, that it was only by fathering and by love that Silas could shed
his past wounds and failures, and be restored. In this transformation,
he found meaning for his life, his redemption. George Eliot wrote:

"Silas might be seen in the sunny mid-day, . strolling out . to carry
Eppie . till they reached some favourite bank where he could sit down,
while Eppie toddled to pluck the flowers, and make remarks to the winged
things that murmured happily above the bright petals., calling 'Dad-dad's'
attention continually by bringing him the flowers." [19]

About Silas's regeneration and rebirth, George Eliot continued:

"As the child's mind was growing into knowledge, his mind was growing into
memory: as her life unfolded, his soul, long stupefied in a cold narrow prison,
was unfolding too, and trembling gradually into full consciousness." [20]

The novelist had Silas tell his daughter Eppie:

"If you hadn't been sent to save me, I should ha' gone to the grave in my
misery." [21]

I end now with George Eliot's most beautiful description of Silas Marner's
transformation and redemption through fatherhood by the love and care of
this child, Eppie and her love of him, her father. Eliot wrote:

"In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led
them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now.
But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into
theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so
that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child's." [22]

I repeat, the hand of a child can lead men from the city of destruction.

Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you all to place the hands of America's
children into their fathers' hands, so that God's love, the love of Jesus
Christ, can do its work. I urge all women here, particularly all Black
women here to take the lead in America in politics and in public affairs
to uphold a new definition of womanhood, which includes the love of men
and children. I urge you all to support fathering as a pressing public and
social policy issue, a major political initiative, and to vindicate the
entitlement of children to the love and support of both their parents,
both mothers and fathers, public policy that supports fatherhood and that
is father friendly. I urge you to place the hands of children into the
hands of their fathers. I thank you for listening to my woman's voice for
fatherhood.

===
Citations

[1] Wordsworth, William, printed in the book Silas Marner by George Eliot,
Penguin Books, edited by Q.D. Leavis, title page
[2] Bible, Ephesians, chapter 3 verses 14,15, The New Jerusalem, Reader's
Edition, Doubleday Publishing, New York
[3] Bible, Ephesians, chapter 3 verses 14,15, King James Version, Thomas
Nelson Publishers
[4] LARKIN, Rev. Michael J, Saint Thomas More, pamphlet printed by The
Paulist Press, New York, USA,October 1937
[5] Judgement, Oldfield v. Oldfield, Ontario Court of Justice (General
Division) June 27, 1991, Justice Robert Blair, Report of Family Law,Report
of Family Law, 33 R.F.L.(3d) 237, page 237, paragraph 5
[6] Judgement, Oldfield v. Oldfield, Ontario Court of Justice (General
Division) June 27, 1991, Justice Robert Blair, Report of Family law, 33
R.F.L.(3d) 237, page 238, paragraph 6
[7] Judgement, British Columbia Birth Registration No.99-0733 (Re),
British Columbia Supreme Court,January 4, 2000, Justice Paris, Quicklaw,
page 2
[8] Judgement, British Columbia Birth Registration No.99-0733 (Re),
British Columbia Supreme Court,January 4, 2000, Justice Paris, Quicklaw,
page 3, paragraph 6
[9] Judgement, White v. White, British Columbia Supreme Court, March 1,
2000, Master Baker, Quicklaw,page 3, paragraph 11
[10] Judgement, White v. White, British Columbia Supreme Court, March 1,
2000, Master Baker, Quicklaw,page 1,2, paragraph 5
[11] Moynihan Report:, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,
1965, United States Department of Labor Office of Policy Planning and
Research, chapter 4, page 5, printed in the book The Moynihan Report and
the Politics of Controversy by Lee Rainwater and William L. Yancey, The
M.I.T. Press, USA, 1967, page 51
[12] Moynihan Report:, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,
1965, United States Department of Labor Office of Policy Planning and
Research, chapter 4, page 5, printed in the book The Moynihan Report and
the Politics of Controversy by Lee Rainwater and William L. Yancey, The
M.I.T. Press, USA, 1967, page 51
[13] Moynihan Report:, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,
1965 United States Department of Labor Office of Policy Planning and
Research, page 34, printed in the book The Moynihan Report and the
Politics of Controversy by Lee Rainwater and William L. Yancey, The M.I.T.
Press, USA, 1967, page 80
[14] Moynihan Report:, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,
1965 United States Department of Labor Office of Policy Planning and
Research, page 34, printed in the book The Moynihan Report and the
Politics of Controversy by Lee Rainwater and William L. Yancey, The M.I.T.
Press, USA, 1967, page 80
[15] Moynihan Report:, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,
1965 United States Department of Labor Office of Policy Planning and
Research, page 35, printed in the book The Moynihan Report and the
Politics of Controversy by Lee Rainwater and William L. Yancey, The M.I.T.
Press, USA, 1967, page 81
[16] National Centre for Fathering, Kansas, 1996 Gallup Poll on Fathering
"Fathers in America", Internet Download, page 1
[17] KAMARCK, Elaine Ciulla and GALSTON, William A., A Progressive Family
Policy for the 1990s, Progressive Policy Institute, September 1990, page 162
[18] Moynihan, Daniel Patrick, Defining Deviancy Down, American Scholar,
Winter 1993, page 26, which included Moynihan quoting himself from his
article A Family Policy, America, September 18, 1965, page 283
[19] ELIOT, George, Silas Marner, Penguin Books, edited by Q.D. Leavis,
page 184, 185
[20] ELIOT, George, Silas Marner, Penguin Books, edited by Q.D. Leavis,
page 185
[21] ELIOT, George, Silas Marner, Penguin Books, edited by Q.D. Leavis,
page 226
[22] ELIOT, George, Silas Marner, Penguin Books, edited by Q.D. Leavis,
page 190
 

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