Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ottawa CAS attempts to silence advocates

Two years after John Dunn made a request for a list of the Children's Aid Society's of Ottawa's regular members for the purpose of advocating for kids in foster care to become members of the agency which makes decisions which seriously affect their lives, Dunn has filed a second request for a list of the members of the Society to ask the them to vote on a by-law amendment which would allow former wards of that Society to become members of the Society regardless of where they have moved to in Ontario as adults.

This way, former wards whose lives were affected by the Society would be able to become members even if they happen to live just outside the city, or if they were placed outside of the city while in care, resulting in them living there as adults.

The Society once again hired the same lawyer, Robert C. Morrow of Burke-Robertson Barristers & Solicitors to help them to refuse the list of their members, which is an offence. However, this time, the Executive Director, Barbara MacKinnon even intentionally and openly refused to give the legally filed request to the other Board of Directors members. The relevant parts of the statute are bolded below;

"Offence

(5)Every corporation
or transfer agent that fails to furnish a list in accordance with subsection (1) when so required is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $1,000, and every director or officer of such corporation or transfer agent who authorized, permitted or acquiesced in such offence is also guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a like fine"

As shown above, subsection 307 (5) of the Corporations Act clearly states that it is an Offence for the Society to fail to furnish a list of their members as required by a person making a proper request for it under section 307 (1) of the Corporations Act.

Pressing Charges in 2009
I took the matter to court to press charges and the Justice of the Peace suggested I try and save the court's time and seek a resolution with them first. I agreed that it would be a good idea to use the same solution we came up with in the 2007 matter which was to have the CAS give their list of 53 members to the Crown. I then gave the letter to the members to the Crown and she stuffed the envelopes and mailed them out.

Society Attempting to Silence Advocates
I contacted the Society through their counsel, Robert C. Morrow to let them know that I would like to meet with them and the Crown to discuss this option and the Society responded with an attempt to persuade me to accept their own proposal, which would have me agree to a one-time appeal to their members on the condition that I agree to a non-communication clause -- presumably preventing me from communicating with the members ever again -- and preventing me from ever making a lawful request for their members, in addition to having me agree to never make claims about the Society preventing me from being a member with the Society.

I have enclosed their letter below, followed by my response, which rejects their shocking and unreasonable proposal.

Sincerely

John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada
http://www.afterfostercare.ca

The Society responded
-----------------------------------------------------------
From: jthompson@burkerobertson.com
To: afterfostercare@hotmail.com
CC: tengelking@casott.on.ca; Yvonne.Goebel@ottawa.ca
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 14:11:25 -0400
Subject:

MESSAGE FROM ROBERT C. MORROW
VIA JANE THOMPSON, ASSISTANT

Dear Mr. Dunn,

Further to your email to me of July 14, 2009, I can indicate to you the following:

The Children's Aid Society is willing to circulate on your behalf a further advocacy letter/by-law amendment to its members, on one condition - this would be the last one.

For the sake of clarity (given that you are of the view, in error, that you can send an infinite number of Section 307 Corporations Act notices; and that the Children's Aid Society allegedly commits an offence each and every time the members list is not provided to you), any new initiative would include a comprehensive non-communication clause that, among other features, would stipulate a prohibition against (a) future claims concerning membership issues, and, (b) the delivery of any further Section 307 requests. Any breach of the non-communication would be the subject of judicial proceedings.

Please indicate your agreement to this proposal by sending to me a draft of your advocacy letter/proposed by-law amendment, at your convenience.

I would also ask you to indicate to me (i) which Justice of the Peace you met with, (ii) the date of the meeting, and, (iii) what allegations or complaints you presented to him/her.

Yours truly,

Robert C. Morrow

Jane Thompson
Assistant to Robert C. Morrow
Tel: (613) 236-9665
Fax: (613) 235-4430
Email: jthompson@burkerobertson.com

My response:
-----------------------------------------------------------
From: afterfostercare@hotmail.com
To: jthompson@burkerobertson.com
CC: tengelking@casott.on.ca; yvonne.goebel@ottawa.ca
Subject: RE: 2009 Request for Ottawa CAS members
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 17:10:11 -0400

I am sorry but I can not agree to the enclosed proposal by the Society as it is unreasonable.


I also have never stated that I will submit an infinite number of 307 requests to the Society. This is only the second one in over two years. If the Society were to discuss these matters openly with me, there would be no requirement to make such requests.

Also, the law clearly states that it is an offence for a Society to fail to furnish a list of it's members.


Sincerely
John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada
http://www.afterfostercare.ca


The Society's Response
-----------------------------------------------------------
From: jthompson@burkerobertson.com
To: afterfostercare@hotmail.com
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 10:23:23 -0400
Subject: RE: 2009 Request for Ottawa CAS members

Dear Sir,

I acknowledge with thanks receipt of your email dated July 21st.

Is it your position that:

(i) You can deliver as many Section 307 Corporations Act requests as you wish to the Children's Aid Society, and,

(ii) The Society commits an offence every time it declines to provide you with the membership list?

I look forward to your reply. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Yours truly,

Robert C. Morrow


My Response
-----------------------------------------------------------
RE: 2009 Request for Ottawa CAS members‏
From: John Dunn (afterfostercare@hotmail.com)
Sent: July 22, 2009 5:11:14 PM
To: Jane Thompson (jthompson@burkerobertson.com)


I thank you Robert for asking these questions, as this in my opinion suggests a willingness to discuss the matter at least. Therefore, I will answer your questions gladly.

I am not sure exactly how the word "position" is used in the courts and legally so I will not necessarily say that it is my "position" for that reason. I do not know the implications of saying it is my position.

You asked the following


"Is it your position that:

(i) You can deliver as many Section 307 Corporations Act requests as you wish to the Children's Aid Society, and,

(ii) The Society commits an offence every time it declines to provide you with the membership list?"


My answer to item (i)I do not think it is, nor would be reasonable for any person in any position to bombard a corporation with several unnecessary Section 307 Corporations Act requests per year or every year or at any interval for no good reason. I would even go as far as saying that if more than two requests for a corporation's list of members was made in a single year by the same person that those requests could be suspect as being abusive, frivolous, or not made in good faith, however without knowing the circumstances we can not speculate. As for myself and the work I am engaged in, I do not however see myself ever making more than one request in any given year for any reason. I only see it being done as the need arises. I have a legitimate issue to be raised to the members just as I did in February of 2007 when I wanted to contact the members to advocate for kids in care to become members of the Society (non-voting). That purpose was only supported by one member of the Society therefore, I let it go at that as agreed and did not attempt to bring the Stayed charge back because everything was done as agreed and the issue was finished.

Then, a couple of years later (June 2009) I made another request for a list of the Society's members because I had learned that former wards of the Ottawa CAS were not allowed to become members because they might happen to live just outside the City of Ottawa. Therefore, I wanted to propose to the current members (unsure of the 2009 number of members) that they requisition the Board for a meeting as per section 13 of the Society's By-Law (if I recall correctly which refers members to section 295 of the Corporations Act) to see if they would support a by-law amendment which would enable adult, former wards of the Society to become members of the Society since it was this Society that affected their entire lives not another Society in another region.


My answer to item (i)The statute says quite clearly that every corporation that fails to furnish a list in accordance with subsection (1) when so required is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $1,000, and every director or officer of such corporation who authorized, permitted or acquiesced in such offence is also guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a like fine. The corporation (Society) failed to furnish the list in accordance with subsection (1) when the list was so required. Also, since the list was requested from the Society fully in accordance with subsection (1), subsection (5) is clear in stating that it is an offence for the Society to fail to furnish the list when so required. Even a Director or Officer of the Corporation who authorizes, permits, or acquiesces to such an offence can be separately charged for authorizing, permitting or acquiescing to such an offence.

I hope this is helpful.


Sincerely
John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada
http://www.afterfostercare.ca

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