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February 11, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Back on February 1st, I posted this piece about an Ontario testing laboratory that’s had a class-action lawsuit filed against it due to its years-long incompetence in determining, among other things, whether parents were using illegal drugs and/or abusing alcohol. The Motherisk lab conducted thousands of such tests and many parents lost their children to the province based on the conclusions of its employees. But back in the early 2000s, a doctor who was conducting autopsies was discovered to be incompetent. He was fired and many of the cases he’d worked on had to be revisited.

Despite that, no one considered the possibility that there could be other deficiencies at Motherisk. That was too bad, because there were deficiencies aplenty. Those included flawed testing procedures and employees testifying in court as forensic experts who were unqualified to do so. Retired judge Susan Lang issued a report on Motherisk late last year that said among other things,

I have concluded that the laboratory’s flawed hair-testing evidence had serious implications for the fairness of child protection and criminal cases…

The result was inevitable: (Motherisk)’s testing and operations fell woefully short of internationally recognized forensic standards.

Based on the flawed conclusions of unqualified employees, countless Canadian parents had their children taken from them, often permanently. Unsurprisingly, one mother has filed suit against Motherisk and requested the court certify the suit as a class action.

Meanwhile, Ontario has launched its own case-by-case investigation into Motherisk. Its goal is to ascertain who was impacted and how. The lab did work both for the Crown Prosecution Service and children’s welfare agencies throughout the province and the country.

That’s all sensible enough. Few parents will get their kids back, but most will receive some form of monetary compensation. That’s a far cry from adequate of course, but at this point, it’s probably the best Ontario can do.

Unfortunately, other provinces aren’t doing nearly that much. In fact, they’re doing nothing (Toronto Star, 1/26/16). Why? That’s a good question, because Ontario is only reviewing cases that occurred in Ontario, but Motherisk received referrals from all over the country. Nova Scotia, Quebec, British Columbia and New Brunswick relied on Motherisk to conduct testing on parents whose kids were at risk of being taken by child protective authorities. But none of those provinces will conduct its own review of Motherisk or accept complaints made by its own residents. Ontario is only investigating Ontario cases, leaving everyone else with no way to find out if their cases were handled properly or not.

When William McIntyre reached out to the commission looking into child protection cases that used hair test results from the Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk laboratory, he was shocked to learn that the review did not apply to him.

Motherisk hair testing was done in cases that dealt with some of McIntyre and Natacha LeRoy’s children.

The Nova Scotia residents are among an unknown number of Canadians who have been affected by Motherisk hair test results — described by an independent review as “inadequate and unreliable” — but who don’t have the possibility of having their cases reviewed by commissioner Judith Beaman because they do not reside in Ontario.

While Motherisk tests were used in four other provinces — British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia — none has indicated the intention to form the kind of review currently taking place here.

“It’s an atrocity,” McIntyre, 50, told the Star on the phone from North Sydney, N.S. “How could this be just an Ontario thing? You came down and took my hair and sent it to Ontario … This is not just Ontario. This is a Canada-wide situation.”

It’s hard to fault McIntyre’s logic. The testing was done in Ontario and an Ontario company received the money for doing it. That testing affected cases throughout the country, but now, all of a sudden, Ontario’s decided Motherisk’s bad behavior only impacted Ontario residents. That’s patent nonsense of course, but there’s nothing to require Ontario to investigate at all, and it can certainly investigate what it wants to and not what it doesn’t.

So why don’t other provinces come to the aid of their own people? That’s one I can’t answer. My guess is that they fear civil liability. After all, their child welfare agencies relied on a lab that was known to do shaky science. So it may be that they’re just trying to keep their heads down in the hope the whole scandal will blow over.

McIntyre’s case is a lot like that of Yvonne Marchand, the mother who’s filed the class-action suit. Both had reports that contradicted Motherisk’s, but both lost their kids andyway.

McIntyre and LeRoy’s 3-year-old son was made a ward of the province and later adopted as the result of a proceeding in which Motherisk said both parents had tested positive for traces of cocaine.

McIntyre and LeRoy — who were previously in a relationship and remain good friends — deny using the drug at the time.

McIntyre also claims that subsequent hair testing done in the U.S. showed he was negative. They say they were asking that the court grant custody of their son to McIntyre with access to LeRoy.

Yes, their son knew only one set of parents for the first three years of his life. He’d formed the type of attachment to them only an infant can. But because of Motherisk’s bad lab and Ontario’s reliance on it, he was taken from them and adopted by strangers. Outrageous as that is, it’s made all the more so by the fact that no one - not Ontario, not Nova Scotia – is taking responsibility for their clearly wrongful actions.

Oh, and they’re not the only ones who’ve been hurt.

LeRoy, 40, described feeling helpless when their son was taken away. Now she wants answers.

“I would just like everything to come to light and be transparent,” she said. “My little girl and son have been separated. She misses him and I’m sure he misses her.”

Two little kids had a relationship with each other. That too was forever sundered by the incompetence of Motherisk and the provincial government’s reliance on what was known at the time to be a questionable lab.

“The tragedy for Natacha and William is that the surrounding circumstances suggest that Motherisk was the only factor that led to a permanent wardship order being made for their son, who has not only lost his parents, but his older siblings and extended family,” said LeRoy’s Ontario-based lawyer, Julie Kirkpatrick.

Daily we see the enthusiasm with which children’s welfare authorities take children from their parents, often on the slimmest of pretexts. In the United States, that’s aided and abetted by a federal government that pays states to do exactly that. Outrageous as the whole Motherisk fiasco is, it’s no surprise. That the lab seems to have invariably erred on the side of taking kids from parents is all of a piece with the same tendency by CPS agencies. That those agencies never considered the possibility of fault on the part of Motherisk or simply used another lab, is more of the same.

It’s what happens when governments become too invested in taking children from parents. Parents and children pay the price.


National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

#adoption, #childprotectiveservices, #Ontario, #Motherisk

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