Many parents across the country are shocked and angered by a judge siding with a 12-year-old girl from the Gatineau against her father.
According to court proceedings, the father had banned his daughter from going on line after she posted photographs of herself on an Internet dating site. Then, after she allegedly fought with her stepmother, he told her she could not go on an end-of-year school trip. At that point the girl acquired a lawyer and took her father to court.
It should be noted that the girl’s parents have been divorced for 10 years. While the father prohibited his daughter from going on the graduation trip, his divorced wife approved it. So it might be argued that Judge Suzanne Tessier was simply trying to protect the child’s interests from being submerged beneath a stalemate between divorced parents.
But that’s not how many Canadians saw it. The Montreal Gazette thundered: “By ruling that the father of a 12-year-old girl had abused his authority by forbidding his daughter to go on a class outing because she had disobeyed his order to spend less time on the Internet, Judge Tessier diminished not only the authority of all parents, but also the majesty of the law she serves.”
The Gazette continues: “De minimis non curat lex” – the law does not concern itself with trifles – and what could be more trivial than a pre-adolescent’s whining about missing a school trip?”
This personal example may have some relevance here. We travelled to high school by bus. The bus was occasionally late getting home because we stayed in the high school town for a movie. But during Lent my father would not permit me to stay for a movie. The problem was that if one student objected to staying for the movie, the bus could not stay, and all the other bus students were forced to miss the movie. Not a happy scenario for me.
In the case of the Gatineau girl her father has announced he will repeal the ruling.
What do you think?
Should the girl have been able to go on her graduation trip as the judge ruled?
Or should she have been prohibited from going as her father demanded?