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‘The right thing was done:’ Manitoba family gets guardianship of seized baby

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  • WINNIPEG — The mother of a newborn who was seen in a social media video being taken away by authorities in hospital says she is relieved a judge has given guardianship to the family.

    But she says her daughter shouldn’t have been apprehended in the first place.

    “They caused a lot of hardship for my baby, myself and my family,” the mother said Thursday after a child protection hearing in which a judge transferred guardianship of the 10-week-old to the mother’s aunt.

    That means child-welfare agencies are no longer involved in the girl’s care. The aunt is the caregiver the mother had requested before the child was born and she has been looking after the baby, under supervision of social workers, for a few weeks.

    “It is really hard when a kid gets taken away like that, especially when we are not heard,” the aunt said. “We really do need changes in situations like this.”

    The family cannot be identified under Manitoba law.

    The video of the two-day-infant’s apprehension by social workers and police in a Winnipeg hospital was broadcast live on Facebook by the mother’s uncle in January. It shows the woman crying softly as a family member weeps nearby before officers place the baby in a car seat and take her away.

    First Nations leaders have said the case shows that child welfare in the province is biased against Indigenous people.

    Statistics from the Manitoba government reveal that newborn apprehensions occur, on average, about once a day and about 90 per cent of kids in care are Indigenous.

    The mother said she was aware she needed help before the baby was born and made it clear she wished to have her aunt take care of the child.

    She can now work on her own recovery knowing her daughter is officially in the care of a relative, she said.

    Documents filed in court said the mother was honest with social workers during her pregnancy about concerns with addiction and had asked about having family care for the infant. She gave a name to workers, but the documents said the family member required further assessment.

    They said hospital staff believed the mother was drunk and smelled of alcohol when she was brought to the hospital to have the baby. The family disputed that she was intoxicated during labour.

    The documents also said the mother told social workers she used cocaine while pregnant and tested positive for the use of OxyContin.

    On Thursday, she said she is disappointed that her honesty with social workers was used to take her baby.

    “I’m very grateful that the right thing was done today, and she is where she needs to be (and) I can take care of me.”

    She will remain a part of her baby’s life, she added, but the aunt has legal guardianship.

    A man who has come forward claiming he is the baby’s father agreed to the court’s decision. He also hopes to be a part of the girl’s life one day, said his lawyer.

    The aunt said the infant has provided the entire family with strength.

    “I talk with her and tell her things about what’s happening. She has a look sometimes like, ‘It’s OK. Everything is going to be OK.'”

    Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press


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    Health

    Ontario court upholds stay of legal proceedings against 3 tobacco companies

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  • TORONTO — An Ontario court has upheld an order that suspended legal proceedings against three major tobacco companies, rejecting arguments from lawyers representing Quebec smokers.

    Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas McEwen issued his decision Wednesday but did not lay out his reasons, saying those would be released at a later date.

    The companies — JTI-Macdonald Corp., Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. — were granted the stay last month as part of the creditor protection process.

    They obtained the protection shortly after Quebec’s highest court upheld a landmark decision that ordered them to pay more than $15 billion to smokers in two class-action lawsuits.

    The companies have said they had no choice but to seek the stay so they could continue to operate as they try to negotiate a global settlement with all those who have claims against them, including the class-action members and several provincial governments.

    But lawyers representing the class members argued the stay in their case should be revoked if the tobacco companies plan to appeal the Quebec ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

    At a hearing earlier this month, they said the companies cannot negotiate a settlement in good faith while also challenging the findings of the court.

    The lawyers said if the companies plan to seek leave to appeal, the matter should be sent back to the Quebec court so it halt the implementation of its ruling until the appeal process is complete.

    In his decision, McEwen said the stay order would require parties to seek the court’s permission before launching new proceedings involving the companies, including any applications for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

    The judge had previously extended the order to June 28, with a hearing to be held a few days earlier.

    The Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health, which was behind the class-action suits, said it would hold off commenting on the ruling until the judge’s reasons were released. 

    Lawyers representing several provincial governments had opposed the Quebec lawyers’ application, saying one group of claimants should not be prioritized over others.

    Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Supreme Court of Canada sides with police in internet child luring case

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  • OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says undercover police officers do not need to obtain a judicial warrant before using email or instant-message services to communicate with someone suspected of child luring.

    The ruling today comes in the case of Sean Patrick Mills, a Newfoundland man who was convicted of internet luring after a police officer posed online as a 14-year-old girl named “Leann.”

    The constable created an email account and Facebook page for the girl in 2012 to see if people online were preying on underage children.

    The officer received a Facebook message from Mills, who was 32, leading to an exchange of emails that turned sexual.

    Police used a screen-shot program to capture and record copies of the communications, but they did not have a court-approved warrant.

    Mills was arrested in a St. John’s park where he had arranged to meet the girl.

    The Canadian Press


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