Political Commentary and Opinion
Trociuk, the father, and Ernst, the mother, were the parents of triplets and were estranged. On the statement of live birth, the mother marked that the children's father was unacknowledged. She alone chose and registered the children's surname under s. 3(1)(b) of the Vital Statistics Act (BC). The father requested that the registration forms be amended to include his particulars. The request was refused pursuant to s. 3(6)(b) of the Act, which precluded fathers from having such registrations altered. The father applied for a declaration that the sections violated the Charter. The application was dismissed. The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal. The father appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Held: Appeal allowed. The sections violated s. 15(1) of the Charter and were unconstitutional. They permitted differential treatment on the basis of sex. They had the effect of excluding the father's particulars from birth registrations, excluding him from participating in choosing his children's surname and then precluding any recourse. This arbitrary exclusion affected an interest that was significant and gave rise to the perception that the father's dignity had been infringed. The s. 15(1) violation was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter as the sections did not impair the rights of fathers as little as reasonably.
From the Canadian Children's Rights Council
Trociuk vs. The Attorney General of B.C.
Dad wins in the Supreme Court of Canada. He takes on the provincial government of British Columbia to get his name on the birth records.
Darrell Wayne Trociuk - v. - Attorney General of British Columbia, the Director of Vital Statistics and Reni Ernst
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the British Columbia Vital Statistics Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 479, on their own or in their effect, discriminates against biological fathers on the basis of sex, by providing biological mothers with sole discretion to include or exclude information relating to biological fathers when registering the birth of a child, contrary to s. 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Canadian Children's Rights Council views this a victory for fathers and their children.
We believe that this court decision is supportive of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) with reqards to a child's relationship rights.
The President of the Canadian Children's Rights Council stated " It's been 50 years exactly since Irish father Desmond Doyle ( see right sidebar "Evelyn" ) won the right to the society of his children in the Supreme Court of Ireland. We are still facing substantial discrimination in family law against father - child relationships."
Will it take another 50 years to get mandatory paternity testing before or after a child is born?
CTV CANADA AM - Interview with Darrell Wayne Trociuk
Darrell speaks about the beginning of his plight and where it has lead him, to see that his children have his name on the birth certificates and now he has started a 6.3 million dollar lawsuit on the BC Liberals for discrimination based on being a father who is denied his rights.
CTV NEWS STORIES
Top court recognizes dads' right to name kids
OTTAWA — Mothers shouldn't have sole power to name a child when they arbitrarily refuse to acknowledge the father, Canada's highest court says. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled 9-0 Friday to strike down British Columbia's Vital Statistics Act because it violates guaranteed equality rights.
Dad files $6.3M B.C. birth certificate lawsuit
CTV.ca News Staff
Convinced British Columbia is unjustly preventing him from adding his name to his children's' birth certificates, Darrell Trociuk is suing the province for $6.3 million. Backed by a Supreme Court of Canada decision that keeping his name off the birth certificates is unconstitutional, Trociuk says B.C. is blocking his attempts to be a dad.
October 28, 2004
"Dad sues gov't for $6.3m in case of 'discrimination' "
Father claims B.C. 'negligent' for not putting his surname on his triplets'
By Jack Keating - email@example.com
CREDIT: Les Bazso, The Province
Darrel Trociuk shows off his family portrait with eight-year-old triplets Ryan (left), Daniel and Andrew, posing with his recently deceased dad, Bill Trociuk. He says the provincial government has acted in 'bad faith' for not helping him give the boys his surname.
A father has filed a $6.3-million lawsuit against the B.C. government for "discrimination and or negligence" for not allowing his surname on his triplets' birth certificates. Despite Darrell Trociuk's victory in the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled he is entitled to be named on the birth certificates of his children Ryan, Andrew and Daniel, his suit says B.C. has acted in "bad faith" by not allowing that to happen.
"I feel that the B.C. government has blocked every attempt I've made to be acknowledged as the father of my children," said Trociuk of Delta. Trociuk's lawyer, Dairn Shane, said the government "seems to be continuously thwarting him." "They have not done anything to assist him on getting on the birth registration forms despite the fact the Supreme Court of Canada said it's wrong he's not on there."
The provincial government has spent an estimated $100,000 to help the children's mother, Reni Ernst, keep Trociuk's name off the birth certificates. Ernst broke off a two-year relationship with Trociuk and moved to Vancouver Island shortly after the triplets were born on Jan. 29, 1996. She used the term "unacknowledged" for the children's father on the birth registration forms. She does not dispute that Trociuk is the father and accepts regular child support from him.
Trociuk applied through the Department of Vital Statistics to be added to the forms and to have the surnames of the children altered to a joint surname, Ernst-Trociuk. Statistics rejected the application without explanation. His claim was rejected by the provincial court and B.C. Supreme Court. In a 2-1 split decision, Trociuk's appeal was dismissed by the B.C. Court of Appeal. But the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the section of B.C.'s Vital Statistics Act that prevented Trociuk's name from being on the birth certificate was unconstitutional and gave B.C. one year to change it.
Trociuk's suit claims that the amended act does not comply with the Supreme Court ruling. The triplets are now eight and live with their mom in Nanaimo. Trociuk's suit says the B.C. government has been "motivated by malice, bad faith, improper purpose, breach of fiduciary duty, discrimination and/or negligence."
It claims the government's actions have caused Trociuk "emotional upset, humiliation, degradation and pain and suffering and have caused him to be separated from his children, both physically and emotionally, and the damage and loss caused by this separation can never be recovered."
The suit seeks $100,000 per child for malice, bad faith, improper purpose, breach of fiduciary duty, discrimination and/or negligence and $1 million per child for aggravated damages for malice, improper purpose, breach of fiduciary duty, discrimination and/or negligence and a further $1 million per child for punitive damages. "I won in Ottawa 9-0 that this was discrimination," said Trociuk, a 39-year-old landscaper.
"And instead of restoring my human rights and my dignity, they continued to abuse me. "I proved that they robbed me of my rights and then more than a year later, I'm still sitting here with no rights either. "I've been raped of my human rights. I have a right to be treated fairly. And that's what the Charter is all about."
The Vancouver Province 2004
Supreme Court of Canada decision:
Amended shortfall in BC legislation:
Children have the innate and inalienable right to both natural parents equally.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE - LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Monday, November 01, 2004
Talking Point: Father seeks compensation for surname game.
Unbalanced, biased legal system hurts the children the most
By Kevin J. Berg, Richmond , B.C.
CREDIT: Les Bazso, The Province
Province readers are adamant: Darrell Trociuk is entitled to share his surname with his triplets.
I'm responding to Jack Keating's recent article in The Province about Darrell Trociuk, who is suing the B.C. government for "discrimination and or negligence" for not allowing his surname on the birth certificates of his triplets.
I support the actions of this father. Although my case is not exactly the same as Trociuk's, almost all fathers who seek justice for themselves and their children face an unbalanced, biased system that favours the mothers. There are many studies that prove the importance of both parents -- even when they are separated -- in a child's life, yet we consistently see courts fail to protect a child's right to have both parents involved in their lives.
Most fathers would prefer to be involved with their children, but to do so comes at great expense -- well into the tens of thousands of dollars. Why? Because they must fight the inherent bias, such as physiologists who prepare custody and access reports, police who typically and wrongfully respond with greater vigour to a mother's claim of wrongdoing, and to a judicial system which assumes men asking for shared custody only do so in an effort to reduce child-support payments.
Many women choose to take advantage of these inequities in the legal system and use the courts, rather than using mediation and dealing fairly with the issues. Clearly, the system needs to be overhauled -- quickly. Never assume that because a woman has gained custody of the children and receives support payments that justice has been done because, more often than not, the father is guilty until proven innocent.
In the end, this approach hurts the children most.
© The Vancouver Province 2004