FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Oct. 18, 2016
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett raised questions about Bill 37, Protecting Students Act, 2016 during debate in the Ontario Legislature, Monday.
This legislation was first introduced several years ago and is again being debated at second reading. Barrett said people are concerned about the safety of their children and the threat of sexual abuse and child pornography, adding changes are long overdue with respect to how this has been handled by the school system.
“Are there convicted offenders with our kids now?” he asked in the Legislature. “The law hasn’t passed. It has been debated, off and on, for the last several years. Are convicted offenders moving from board to board? Are they moving from school to school? Is someone fired and then they reapply somewhere else? This is permissible under the present law.”
The original proposed legislation is being amended to require a hearing if an offender wishes to work with children again. Barrett noted the previous bill required no public hearing.
“What would be in place with respect to the membership of this hearing board? Would it have experts on sexual abuse or experts on child pornography to make these kinds of decision on reinstatement?” Barrett asked.
A number of speakers to the proposed legislation, including Barrett, raised the issue of teachers or early childhood educators being falsely accused.
“Bill 37, the Protecting Students Act, doesn’t go far enough,” Barrett said. “It’s incumbent on us as legislators – as a society – to make sure we are protecting all concerned.”
After second reading debate, Bill 37 will be referred to committee for further consultation.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Oct. 18, 2016
Mr. Toby Barrett: There’s no question: People are very concerned about the safety of their children and obviously the threat of sexual abuse and child pornography. Within our communities, we see what I consider a good system, working through the OPP and parole officers. They all work together to shine a spotlight on offenders. They have systems in place of risk management, systems to monitor offenders and mitigate risk, but the concern obviously is in our schools and in our child care centres. It’s long overdue for our child care system and our school system to get up to speed.
LeSage was well over four years ago. The questions are out there. I have a question presently: Are there convicted offenders with our kids now? The law hasn’t passed. It has been debated, off and on, for the last several years. Are convicted offenders moving from board to board? Are they moving from school to school? Is someone fired and then they reapply somewhere else? This is permissible under the present law.
We know, based on the original legislation that was debated here, that the bill is now being amended to require a hearing if an offender wishes to be reinstated to again work with children. That was our objection to the previous legislation: Someone could be reinstated after something like five years, even though they were guilty as a convicted offender. Again, the question is raised—there would be a hearing. I’d like to know: What would be in place with respect to the membership of this hearing board? Would it have experts on sexual abuse or experts on child pornography to make these kinds of decisions on reinstatement?
Mr. Toby Barrett: A number of speakers today have raised the issue of teachers or early childhood educators being falsely accused. I don’t know how often that happens, but it is incumbent on us as we draft this legislation to ensure that those kinds of protections are in place as well.
Last night, my wife and I watched Indictment: The McMartin Trial. It’s a film. It’s based on a court case in California, where members of the McMartin family were charged and jailed—I think they were all jailed. One was jailed for alleged sexual molestation and abuse of children in their preschool.
This ended up being one of the most expensive and longest-running criminal trials in US legal history. Their guilt had already been established by the media, aided and abetted by the state prosecutor or county prosecutor and what was portrayed as an unprofessional therapist who assisted the children to fabricate stories of abuse, devil worship and what have you. The defender is played by the actor James Woods. It’s a film well worth watching. The accusations were made back in 1983. The trial ran from 1987 to 1990. All charges were eventually dropped after years of sex abuse hysteria, $50 million and a seven-year trial.
So I suggest, as we work on Bill 37, the Protecting Students Act, that it doesn’t go far enough. It’s incumbent on us to make sure we are protecting all concerned.