Friday, 15 December 2017

Common Law Marriages

In the Province of Ontario in Canada, couples who have lived together as husband and wife for three years or more even though they didn’t have a marriage licence or underwent a marriage ceremony, are considered as actually being legally married. As such, they each have the same rights as couples who have a marriage licence and underwent a marriage ceremony. This even applies in instances where two men or two women have lived together for three or more years in Ontario.

However, if they have a baby that was born while the couple lived together less than three years while they cohabited in a relationship of some permanence, then the time it takes to be considered  as a common law marriage  may be much shorter.

Common law relationships are on the rise in Canada, however many couples are unfamiliar with the legal rights and responsibilities they have with respect to one another should the relationship break down. In most cases, it is possible for common law couples to end the relationship without having to take any of the legal steps married couples who are seeking a divorce must take.  Such cases generally end up in family court.

The laws governing common law relationships differ from province to province. In Ontario, two people are considered common law after they have lived together for at least three years unless as I said earlier, they have had a child together

Common law partners sometimes assume that if they separate, they have an automatic entitlement to half of the assets accumulated during the relationship. But the reality is that they do not have any automatic right to property like married couples do under the Family Law Act. So, whatever the parties brought into the relationship is what they are entitled to leave with (division of property based on ownership), and they generally must divide any shared property equally. A common law partner also has no intrinsic right to inherit property if the other party dies and did not include them in their estate plan or will. That includes the home that both parties lived in.       

However, it is possible to make a claim against a common law partner’s property using an equitable relief claim such as a constructive trust claim. Someone would make this claim if, for example, they did not hold title to the home they shared with their partner, but made significant investments into bettering the household, or if they shared mortgage payments.

In an unjust enrichment claim, one partner asserts that through the contribution of his or her labour/time or money, the other partner was enriched through the first partner’s expense. A court will recognize that it would be unfair for the first partner to suffer a deprivation without a “juristic reason” (such as a legal contract) to rationalize or justify it, and seeks to redress the unfairness of allowing the recipient partner to enjoy the benefit without having to reimbursed the other partner.

Common law partners can claim spousal support, and like married individuals, a party who cohabited with their ex-partner would have to request spousal support to a court.  Determining the amount, duration and type of spousal support that one partner may owe the other will depend on numerous factors including the means and needs of each party, the ability of the paying party to afford support, and the employment and self-sufficiency prospects of the recipient party. There is no limitation period for a common law partner to claim spousal support under the Family Law Act, however it is always best that the applicant make the request as early as possible.

It is highly recommended that common law couples create a cohabitation agreement before they move in together. This domestic contract details how the parties will deal with issues such as property and spousal support should the relationship break down, or if one of them dies. Custody, access and child support of any children of the relationship cannot be included in a cohabitation agreement.  It would require a separate agreement.      

Now, I will take you to an unusual case that was heard by the Court of Appeal in New Foundland that involved two people who lived together in a common law relationship.         Both were widowed.

 The issue presented in this case is therefore whether or not the applications judge erred in concluding that Mr. Bussey could not be regarded as a spouse of Ms. Dwyer for the purposes of property division because he and Ms. Dwyer did not intend to comply with the recognized marriage formalities in the jurisdiction of New Foundland. It was Ms. Dwyer who filed the appeal. They were now separated and she wanted to be able to claim part of Mr. Bussey’s home as her own.

.Lloyd Bussey and Linda Dwyer had been living together for a few years beginning on July 12, 2008 when they participated in a peculiar ceremony. Alone in Mr. Bussey’s house in Port de Grave, and with no official, witnesses present or having a marriage  licence,  and while sitting on the edge of their bed, they exchanged rings that had been blessed by a minister, opened a Bible, and read out the verse, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” As far as they were concerned, they were now a married couple.

In some sense, Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer may have intended to create a traditional marriage. They were living together in a conjugal relationship. Their ceremony deliberately echoed the formalities of a Christian wedding. Over the next few years they called each other husband and wife and introduced themselves as husband and wife to friends, family, and the congregation at their church. They received and preserved cards congratulating them on their wedding.  They characterized themselves as widows on tax forms, and believed that they were complying with the marriage laws. But Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer did not intend to create a legal marriage.

This certainly raises an interesting legal issue. If they were legally married to their original spouses and weren’t divorced from them, would their common law marriage would then be considered as a valid marriage?  I don’t think it would be a valid marriage any more than if they were married to each other after fraudulently obtaining a marriage licence. However they were widows and didn’t fraudulently obtain a marriage certificate. In fact, they didn’t obtain one at all. 

When Ms. Dwyer decided to break of their relationship. she felt that she was entitled to a half share of  Mr. Bussey’s home so she  took him to court.

The applications judge concluded that the relationship of the parties did not entitle her to benefit from the provisions of the Act for the purpose of property division.

Ms. Dwyer then filed an appeal in the Newfoundland Court of Appeal. The issue involved consideration of the legal nature of a conjugal relationship in order to determine if the parties are “spouses” under the Family Law Act

The question facing the court was; was this couple actually married to one another.

At the time of the ceremony the key provision was s.44 of the Solemnization of Marriage Act states;            

Where the parties to a marriage solemnized in good faith and intended to be in compliance with this Act were not under a legal disqualification to contract the marriage and after that solemnization have lived together and cohabited as husband and wife, the marriage shall be considered to have been validly solemnized, notwithstanding that the person who solemnized the marriage was not authorized to solemnize marriage and notwithstanding an irregularity or insufficiency in the issue of the licence.

First of all, if they were previously married under this Act and not divorced, then they were disqualified from being officially married to one another. Secondly, no one legally solemnized their marriage and thirdly, they didn’t get a marriage licence.

   Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer’s ceremony could not be brought within the Solemnization of Marriage Act

It was not a case where the official (religious leader or justice of the peace) was not authorized to solemnize marriages”. There was no “person who solemnized the marriage”. There was no “irregularity or insufficiency in the issue of the licence” as there was no licence at all. Further, Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer did not intend to be in complete compliance within the Act.

As Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer were not legally married, they can only count themselves as spouses under the Act  if (1) the ceremony between Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer was a form of marriage and (2) Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer went through it in good faith.

The appeal court judge who wrote the opinion for himself and the other two appeal court judges said;

“I am prepared to assume for the moment that the ceremony was a form of marriage. The central question is whether Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer went through the ceremony in good faith.”

  There are three possible meanings of the phrase in good faith that were  suggested:

1.      An intention to form a conjugal relationship.
2.      An intention to be married in any sense—legal, social, religious, etc.
3.      An intention to be legally married.

   Choosing among these interpretations requires an analysis of the statutory text, the jurisprudence, the scheme of the Act, and the policy of the Act.

There is a strong presumption that every word in a statute has meaning.  Whatever “form of marriage” may mean, it implies an intention to form a conjugal relationship and an intention to be married. So the words “in good faith” are redundant unless they mean “an intention to be legally married”.

The good-faith exception can actually be traced to  Lord Hardwicke’s Act in 1753, which set out mandatory formalities for entering a marriage in England. The Act provided without exception that any marriage that failed to comply with the formalities was void. The courts interpreted that to mean that any deliberate departure from the statutory forms was fraud and invalidated the marriage. However, a small inadvertent departure would not invalidate the marriage.

This policy was expanded and given a firm statutory basis in section 22 of the 1823 Marriage Act. If only one party was aware of the informality, the marriage was valid; if both were aware, then the marriage becomes fraudulent and void.  Fraud is the antithesis of good faith.

 Canadian courts have consistently followed that policy. An invalid marriage formed in good faith is valid if the parties thought it would be legally valid.

   Like many family-law statutes of the late twentieth century, the Act is organized around a distinction between “spouses” and “partners”. In contrast to spouses, partners are persons who have cohabited in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage.

  Parts I and II, which ensure a sharing of the matrimonial home and family property, apply only to “spouses”. Part III, which deals with spousal support, applies equally to spouses and partners. And Part IV distinguishes between “marriage agreements” (for “persons who are married to each other or intend to marry”: s. 62) and “cohabitation agreements.

Unmarried cohabitants, on the other hand, maintain their respective proprietary rights and interests throughout the duration of their relationship and at its end. The general principle is that, without taking some unequivocal consensual action, these cohabiting persons maintain the right to deal with any and all of their own property as they see fit.

The Matrimonial Property Act, then, can be viewed as creating a shared property regime that is tailored to persons who have taken a mutual positive step to invoke it. Conversely, it excludes from its ambit those persons who have not taken such a step. This requirement of consensus enhances rather than diminishes respect for the autonomy and self-determination of unmarried cohabitants and their ability to live in relationships of their own design.

If, as in this case, a couple deliberately avoids the legal consequences of marriage, it is difficult to conclude that they have taken a mutual positive step to bring themselves within the matrimonial property regime. In assessing the fairest and most practical way to interpret the Act, it is important to acknowledge that restricting the matrimonial property regime to couples who believe they are legally married can bring about a real injustice.

The matrimonial property regime is meant to protect and recognize the equal contributions of partners, especially partners who are economically dependent on each other in whole or in part. However, this marriage is not a realistic option for some people.

Some people mistakenly believe until it is too late, that unmarried relationships have the same legal effects as married ones.

These situations are partly addressed by the modern law of unjust enrichment. Unjust enrichment, however, can be an imperfect substitute for a statutory property-sharing regime.

And yet couples who deliberately choose to avoid the legal consequences of marriage may have good reasons for doing so. That is because couples differ in age and stage of life; in commitment; in values; in interdependence; in division of domestic and economic labour; in wealth and earning power; in obligations to dependents, family and others; in aspirations for career or children. The Act is not suitable to every couple’s circumstances.  Certainly one size does not fit everyone.

   Respect for couples’ autonomy requires deference to couples’ choices about how to arrange their own affairs. Couples can express their choices through a marriage or cohabitation contract. But, as long as the law distinguishes between the rights of the married and unmarried, couples also may signify their choice of property regime by entering into a legal marriage or deciding not to do so.

These arguments have a special force in jurisdiction of New Foundland because, uniquely among Canadian family-law statutes, the Act automatically places every matrimonial home in joint tenancy. The difficulties this can create were explained with characteristic vigour and fairness by the then Minister of Justice T. Alexander Hickman when he first introduced the joint-tenancy system.

A man has one major asset, the family home, that he has built, acquired, paid for, worked for over a period of, many years. And then he decides to marry and he marries a lady who for one reason or another, has either property she inherited from a former husband or property she has worked for and bought, and she decides that the matrimonial home will be the one that her husband owns.

There can be a situation where, should there be a dissolution of the marriage, or death of the husband half of that home goes to his wife, whereas her properties are not subjected to that distribution of the marriage assets. Now, surely, there will be that kind of problem existing from time to time.

There may be a situation  where there was a child of the marriage who is forty or fifty years of age, who has worked hard with her father—her mother is dead and looked after the family home, and suddenly, the father decides to remarry and then the matrimonial home is owned by the father and his new wife; the father dies and the daughter finds herself in a situation where there may be some inequities especially if the new wife claims the property as her own. This could be a real injustice if the daughter put a lot of her own money into the home and is asked to leave by the widow.

 Another practical problem is that the Act in its current form presumes that there is a bright line distinguishing married from unmarried couples. In particular, the joint-tenancy provisions of Part I of the Act require couples and third parties to be able to ascertain with certainty whether there is a valid marriage in the appropriate sense.

Interpreting “good faith” as an intention to be legally married ensures certainty. Only couples who honestly believe they are legally married will be considered spouses under the Act.

The couple in this article knew that they weren’t legally married (licence and all) but believed that they were still a married couple. 

A couple of years ago, a couple who lived in Florida  six months of the year and six months in Ontario decided to get married in Ontario. The man (who is an old friend of mine) retained the services of a lawyer who failed through his own stupidity to obtain a marriage licence by the time his relatives and friends arrived to attend the marriage ceremony. The person who conducted the ceremony was licenced to conduct the ceremony but because no licence was obtained, the marriage wasn’t a valid one. Further, they hadn’t lived with one another for the past three years so in Ontario, they were not even considered as a married couple. Subsequently, they were legally married in Florida several months later. Now they are a legally married couple.

 Any other definitions in Newfoundland would create an ambiguous intermediate class of people who are not legally married and do not believe themselves to be legally married, but may nevertheless be spouses under the ActIt is difficult to foretell whose relationships might afterwards be characterized as marital or conjugal.

 Cohabiting couples often hope or plan, with varying degrees of commitment, to live together exclusively for life. Sometimes couples who are not married choose to pass as a married couple to ease some particular social situation. It would be difficult for a court to piece together, from fuzzy memories clouded by pecuniary consequences, all the various promises of a conjugal relationship to discern whether the couple’s commitments passed some threshold of firmness. And taking the law it prophecies of what the courts will do in fact, it would be impossible for many couples to tell whether they would turn out to be married or not married.

After a breakup of the marriage, this uncertainty would take the form of needless, acrimonious litigation. The formalities of a legal marriage ensure clear evidence of the parties’ intentions. Creating an intermediate class of semi-marital relationships will invite the parties to present wide-ranging evidence about the nature of their relationship and intentions—with some being true and others no so.

 People often have mixed or complex reasons for their actions. They rarely leave unambiguous evidence of those reasons. Litigation will often invite a broad analysis of each party’s character and conduct and often an unflattering one that will undermine the statutory policy of keeping the matrimonial property regime separate from any moral evaluation or condemnation of misconduct.

The statutory text, a long and cogent line of jurisprudence, the scheme of the Act, respect for couples’ autonomy, and the need for certainty all imply that a couple only enters a form of marriage “in good faith” if they intended to become legally married.

The Court of Appeal said, “Mr. Bussey and Ms. Dwyer are not married and, because they deliberately chose not to enter into a legal marriage, they did not enter into a form of marriage in good faith therefor they are not spouses.”  

Her appeal was dismissed. Because the case was a novel one, the court didn’t order her to pay the costs of the appeal. 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Prince Harry and his girlfriends 

In May 2014, a 19-year-old woman claimed that she was pregnant with Prince Harry's child. According to it was a one-night stand. If his girlfriend was pregnant with his baby, then the 31-year-old royal was going to have a real problem. 

His then long-time girlfriend, Cressida Bonas called it quits after reports of them having a pregnancy scare in May 2014 that had started doing the rounds, hinting that a royal wedding would have been imminent if a baby was on its way.  Harry went into total shock, visualizing horrific headlines and the Queen's wrath.

Not quite knowing what to do, so he and Cressida divulged their secret to William and Kate that she'd missed one period cycle, which was very unusual for her.

When Kate urged her to do a home pregnancy test, she said she was afraid to face the results  but Kate emphasized the urgency, telling Cressida that if she were indeed pregnant, wedding plans would have to start immediately.
The pregnancy test came out negative and a few days later the couple decided to split amicably.

 I don’t know for sure what prompted the split but one thing is for sure;  the prince shouldn’t have been having intercourse with his fiancĂ© without first taking precautions. That wasn’t the first stupid thing this young man had done. He is renowned for doing stupid things.

The prince was said to have partied a little too much and got his one-night stand girlfriend pregnant. The 19-year-old blonde reportedly said that she had proof that the baby would have been  Harry's child if she really was pregnant which as it turned out, she wasn’t really  pregnant.

 Harry getting a woman pregnant in a one-night stand had been one of Queen Elizabeth II's worst fears.  It was the biggest scandal the royals could ever face. The queen was especially upset because that wasn’t the first time such a threat has rocked the palace. She was angry about the whole situation.

The exact reason for the split between Harry and Cressida Bonas wasn’t really known. However rumors were swirling around that suggested that f Cressida felt her ambitions were being quashed by her high profile relationship. Another report indicated that they split up due to issues with money.        

Bonas was expected to accompany Harry to Miami for his friend. Guy Pelly's wedding. But Cressida did not want to shell out £650 air fare if their relationship wasn't going anywhere and she confronted Harry about that issue. That may have been the money issue mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Quite frankly, it is my opinion that she was right about her qualms of having to pay her own airfare. He was asking her to come with him to the United States. He should have offered to pay her airfare as his guest.  Further he has far more money on hand than she ever had.

If this young tightwad asked her to go with him to an expensive restaurant, would he expect her to pay for her meal? Of course he would.

Harry wanted to party and Cressida didn't see the point in going all the way to Miami to watch him fall out of a nightclub especially since she was expected to pay her own airfare.

Their argument was about going to Miami for his friend’s wedding but it escalated into something much bigger. They were actually very happy until then, even though there have been ups and down between them.  This issue about the Miami trip resulted in a huge blow up, which caused the split between them.

She probably envisioned having to always beg money from this tightwad after they were married.

Kate Middleton, Harry’s sister-in-law was pleased that Cressida Bonas and her brother-in-law had broken up since she felt that the girl wouldn’t fit in with the other Royals. 

 Meanwhile, Kate Middleton and Camilla were said to be wife-hunting on behalf of Prince Harry. 

Furthermore, his sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton and his stepmother, the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Mountbatten-Windsor are said to be very interested in the search of Prince Harry's girlfriend and, eventually, bride.

According to rumors, Camilla wanted to see the prince marry because it will make her husband, Prince Charles, happy. She may have also asked help from her own children Tom Parker-Bowles and Laura Lopes to find suitable candidates.

Kate Middleton, on the other hand, was looking at Prince Harry's previous girlfriends, Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas. She is said to be favoring Davy. However, according to the Express, Chelsy has said that marrying Prince Harry was not the life for her.

It was previously reported that Kate Middleton is against Cressida Bonas and thinks that she is not a love match for Prince Harry. "She doesn't want her in the family," a source told OK! Magazine.

Prince Harry’s current girlfriend, Meghan Markle, is showing off some tell-tale signs she might be in the family way. WHAT? Can’t that damn fool keep his penis inside his pants?

While having Meghan take over the pregnancy spotlight might be unwelcome news for Kate, her alleged baby daddy Prince Harry has been outspoken about his love of children. Known to be a delightfully doting uncle to Middleton’s children George and Charlotte, the prince has not tried to hide his desire to start his own family. Harry predicted that the “time will come” to have children, adding that “whatever happens, happens.

That is very nice but responsible couples wait until they are married before they begin creating a family of their own.

Meghan’s surprising news could make it even more difficult for Kate to view the actress as a friend. Markle reportedly is showing signs that she could steal Middleton’s pregnancy spotlight with her own baby bump, according to Yahoo.

But that time could be within the next eight months, based on the rumors that Meghan has become pregnant around October of this year even before the official engagement announcement was made and certainly before the traditional procession down the wedding aisle takes place.

The prince orchestrated the perfect way to make his relationship with his royal girlfriend official last month, turning their public debut at the Invictus Games in November into a media event.

This indicated g that Prince Harry enjoyed seeing his decision to have his public debut with Markle work out as a happy couple. The lovebirds appeared to be cherishing every aspect of their appearance as pointed out by the media.

While some speculated that Harry wanted to make a good impression on Markle’s mother by inviting her to the significant event, an insider quoted by Yahoo revealed that the public display of a united family meant something even more special.

The prince invited Markle’s mother in order to have the perfect way to tell her that her daughter was pregnant. I don’t think Markle’s mother was too happy about hearing about her daughter’s pre-wedding pregnancy. 

It was revealed that observers were shocked to see the famous actress suddenly swap her usually tight attire for saggy, baggy styles. With the media taking numerous photos and royal watchers scrutinizing her, Meghan had been expected to go for exquisitely fitted attire. It didn’t take long for the media to arrive at the correct conclusion. How long can you hide the tell-tale bump in a woman’s abdomen when they are pregnant? It’s done by baggy clothes but even that won’t help as the months progress towards the baby’s birth.

Notwithstanding Meghan’s pre-marital sexual relationship with the Prince, I am sure she is a fine woman. However, can she turn Prince Harry from a buffoon to a responsible husband and father?  Time will tell us if she succeeds.

If they are married, I hope for Markle’s sake that Prince Harry doesn’t do the same dirty deed his father, Prince Charles did to Prince Harry’s mother by having sex with another woman and then abandoning his wife like his father did to Dianna.  

Monday, 11 December 2017

Mistreatment of young offenders
In 1980, I received an invitation from the United Nations to give a series of speeches at a UN crime conference being held in Caracas, Venezuela.  I could choose any subject I wished to speak on.

Prior to going the conference, I came across a large report about the abuses committed against young offenders being held in US federal young offender facilities. I was shocked at what I had read. I decided that one of my speeches would be on the treatment of young offenders as to how they were being abused in the American federal young offender facilities. I planned to say that what was needed was a bill of rights for young offenders.

When I gave that speech, the American delegation was so embarrassed; they did something right after my speech by asking the chairman of the session to permit them to answer my allegations. Normally, the Rules of the UN prohibit responses right after the experts (that is what we are called by the UN) have given their speeches. Nevertheless, permission was given. They were told that they could have five minutes to respond to my allegations and after they spoke, I would also be given five minutes to respond to their response. Unfortunately, I had left the conference hall so I didn’t hear what the chairman had said.

The spokesman for the American delegation told the other delegates that my allegations were true and that their delegation was going to bring in a resolution instructing the United Nations to conduct a series of meetings around the world for the purpose of creating a bill of rights for young offenders.

Whenever a delegation brings in a resolution, they need seven seconders from the other delegations. They got their seconders.

That night, I was invited to meet several members of the American delegation  in the home of the Canadian Ambassador to Canada. Much to my surprise, one of the American delegates was the man who wrote that damning report I had referred to in my speech. They asked me to help them draft up their resolution.

The next morning, they brought their resolution to all the delegates attending the conference and they all voted in favour of the American resolution.

For five years the proposed Bill was studied around the world and when it reached Beijing, China, it was almost finished.  In 1985, while I attended the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the treatment of offenders which was held in Milan, Italy,  the issue of my initial proposal came up for debate. With some minor changes, the America resolution was voted on and all the delegations voted in favor of the resolution. 

Five months later, the UN General assembly gave their approval. Originally it was called the United Nations Bill of Rights for Young Offenders. In 1985,  its title was then changed to The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules on the Administration of juvenile Justice.

Later I learned that in the UN archives, I am known as the precursor of those Rules  for young offenders.

I figured that from then on, young offenders would be treated properly. That presumption on my part was in error.  Abuses in American federal young offender facilities cane to an end but unfortunately, the American delegation attending the UN General Assembly couldn’t vote for those rules as they applied in each of the 50 states in the US. Hence, abuses in some of the state-controlled young offenders’ facilities were abusing their young prisoners.   Some of the abuses were outright horrific.

I decided to give a series of speeches at the UN Eleventh Congress being held in Bangkok in 2005. One of my speeches was; The Bill of Rights for Young Offenders—Why do we as a society, still abuse young offenders? I was later invited to give the same speech in Lima Peru that same year. And the following year, I gave the same speech at a conference being held on juvenile offenders in Brussels, Belgium. 

In 201o, I attended the Twelfth UN Congress being held in Salvador, Brazil. This time my speech on the abuses of young offenders was solely about a young offender’s facility in Toronto, Ontario that was so horrible in its treatment of young offenders—it was finally closed down.

Has anything changed? At the time of the publishing of this article (December 2017) not a great deal has changed. However, the American states did finally shut down their privately-operated young offenders facilities as I suggested in my speech in Brazil but not much else had changed.

Now I will tell you about the abuses that young offenders suffered from in young offender facilities that were taking place in the Province of Ontario beginning in the 1960s. I got much of this information from an article published in the Toronto Star that was written by Kenyon Wallace.

The Province 0f Ontario secretly settled 220 lawsuits where the young offender victims suffered from sexual, physical and emotional abuse by teachers and staff at its training schools for troubled youth between 1960 and 1984 when the young offender training schools were shut down.

Investigations had uncovered information that the financial settlements ranged from several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a condition of the settlements, the victims had to sign confidentiality agreements, what some former residents, now in their late 50s, referred to as “gag orders.” Of course this is a common practice when financial settlements are reached.

Staff and teachers were accused of sodomizing students, forcing them to perform oral sex, and pushing them to engage in “scrambles,” a sort of fight club where students were encouraged to beat one another.

Each of these young boys and girls had been sent by Ontario court judges and provincial government officials to training schools  which were also called residential institutions in communities such as Simcoe, Bowmanville and Cobourg just t name a few. 

These young people—many from broken families, struggling with poverty, or addicted to drugs and even just for being a truant and for these reasons, they had been deemed “unmanageable” or “incorrigible.”

Today, most of the training schools have been abandoned, torn down or converted to housing, while a few have been retrofitted as youth correctional facilities.

Former student, Greenwood, now age 56 said, “There were a lot of warped minds in these schools.” He was speaking about the staff. While many cases have been settled, a the time of the writing of this article, Greenwood’ case is still before the courts. He is suing the province for physical, sexual and emotional abuse he alleges he suffered from at both the Pine Ridge Training School in Bowmanville and the Sprucedale Training School in Hagersville in the late 1970s.

The Training Schools Act was repealed in 1984 and though the Province of Ontario cannot change the past, according to Mr. Naqvi, (Minister of the Department of Corrections) “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that all Ontarians are treated with the compassion, dignity and respect they deserve. Our primary objective with the settlements for abuse victims from training schools is to address the harm suffered while respecting the privacy of these individuals and not re-traumatizing them by publicly revealing their identities.” That makes a great deal of sense. However some of the victims had no problems about giving their names to the Star.

In a statement of claim filed in court, Stephen Burley described one of many attacks he says occurred at the Brookside Training School, where he was sent to at age 13.

Burley alleges that a male staffer beat him with a broken wooden broom handle on a number of occasions, and then used that same wooden handle to sodomize him as two other staffers held him down. Sodomy of anyone who is forced to submit to that act is a crime in Canada. Burley also alleges he was also forced to perform oral sex on the man. He also says he spent a month in Brookside’s concrete-lined solitary confinement cell, known by staff and students alike as “the hole.” It was four feet wide and eight feet in length. When I was in the Toronto jail forty-one years ago, my cell was the same size. My toilet was also a bucket. 

Burley, now 59, who has suffered years of depression, sleepless nights and alcoholism said, “It was cruel and sadistic. I was a child. They broke you apart and you had no chance of putting yourself back together. You can’t get away from it.” Health issues have forced him to go on long-term disability from the Toronto Transit Commission  where he drove buses for 24 years.                                                   

Burley sued the province in 2010 and settled three years later. He was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement that prevents him, on paper, from discussing “the fact and terms” of the settlement.

He is speaking out now because he wants the government to publicly acknowledge its responsibility for what happened to him and others. But in doing so, Burley and others speaking publicly about their settlements are taking a huge risk. As to the province demanding its money back; I will be surprised if the province really wants to add insult to injury.

Shelly Richardson says she was a rebellious child who had a hard time coping with her parents’ separation when she was ten. She stopped listening to her mom, Rita, and started doing “stupid” things like skipping school and stealing.

It soon became evident that Rita couldn’t provide the kind of structure her daughter needed, so Shelly was placed in the care of the local children’s aid society and bounced between foster and group homes.

When she was 13, Shelly and a few friends stole a couple of cars to go joyriding. When she was caught, a judge sent her to Brookside Training School.

Students sent to residential training schools took courses that followed the regular Ontario curriculum, such as English, math, science and shop class. In some cases, classrooms and bedrooms were in one building.

In an interview with the Star, Richardson said the abuse at the hands of three male staff members started almost immediately after she walked through the doors of Johnson House, a locked-down facility for girls, in 1979. Her allegations mirror those in a statement of claim filed against the province in 2004. She has since settled her court case.

Her problems began with one of the senior male staff members, who asked her to help him in the basement laundry room as a ruse. Alone with her, she says this staffer would reach under her shirt and fondle her breasts, rub his groin against her body and force her to touch his penis.

“He just said nobody would believe me if I said anything, so it was better not to say nothing. He said we’re known to be liars and we were in there for that reason,” Richardson said in an interview

On another occasion, Richardson says she was caught smoking in her room by a different male staffer. She says he threatened to report her unless she submitted to sexual acts with him. Richardson’s court claim alleges he kissed her against her will, fondled her genitals, inserted his fingers into her vagina, and forced her to “fondle his penis until he ejaculated.”

Richardson complied, fearing she would be “sent back” to “Day 1, Stage 1” which is a designation that essentially wiped out any progress residents made and reset their time in the institution. “She said, “I just wanted to do my time and get home to my mom,”

There was a superintendent at the former Guelph Reformatory for first offenders who also took away all the good time due  to the prisoners  (a seventh of their time served) even for the most minor of offences committed by the inmates. He was Charlie Sanderson and the inmates referred to him as “Good Time Charlie.” He was finally fired. from his post as a superintendent of prisons in Ontario.

Richardson said, “One night, I snuck into a fellow resident’s room to smoke a cigarette only to discover that my friend was being kissed by yet another male staff member.”  Realizing he’d been caught in the act, the staffer started sexually abusing me  telling me that I would not be believed if I told anyone because I was a “bad kid.”

The abuse took other forms. Richardson said that both male and female staff would also stand and watch the girls shower. “There was no privacy at all. You couldn’t feel comfortable.”

I can’t fault the female staff keeping an eye on the girls when they were showering. They had to make sure that that all the girls were doing was showering themselves. But the men had no right to be in the shower room whatsoever. They were pedophiles, of that there can be no doubt.

Richardson says she remembers one male staffer would often sit in the lounge where the girls gathered to watch TV and start massaging her shoulders and back in plain view of the others. Nobody said a word. Obviously if they did, they would be punished.

By the time Richardson got out of that training school at age 15, She was a different person. She was no longer a rebellious, carefree teenager but instead, she was a damaged, angry young adult.

She said, “If anything, training school made me worse. It made me more defensive. I didn’t trust anybody after that experience.”  

Now 51, Richardson says, “What happened in the school made it difficult for me to be in a trusting relationship. I just couldn’t get the bond with somebody. I had a hard time when I had kids because I was so protective. To this day, they say I’m too protective.” Perhaps it is because she doesn’t want her kids to be sent to a correctional facility for young offenders.

As recently as 1984, training schools were still  in use in Ontario and former residents say they were the scenes of horrible acts by teachers and staff members.

 The  statements of claim list the province as a defendant, and often name individual teachers, though typically, only the last names of teachers or staff are listed since the students never knew their full names, or can’t remember them. In all the court files, the Toronto Star examined, none of the files contained a statement of defence from the province. That doesn’t mean that the province may not file a defence. I believe the province (at the time of this writing) are attempting to find a way of settling the claims in favour of the plaintiffs. The province has to be satisfied that the claims are valid.

Richardson said, “They were wrong for what they did. Did they not do a background check on these people whenever they got hired? Nowadays, you can’t even go on a school trip unless you have a clean background. These people were working with kids.”

Her mother died in 2009 but Richardson never told her about the sexual abuse she suffered in Brookside. “It would have devastated her.” said Richardson.

That I can understand. When I was eleven years of age, my mother visited her sister thousands of miles away from our home. My father anal raped me twice while she was away and then he moved away. I never told my mother what my father had done to me because even as an eleven-year-old, I knew that my mother would be devastated and feel guilty the rest of her life for having left me with my father when she was away with her sister. She died when she was 91 and my secret was kept from her to her dying day.

The allegations contained in the statements of claim viewed by the Star are disturbing and graphic.

One described a ritual known as the “scramble,” which former training school students told the Star entailed staff throwing a sheet over one student and encouraging the others to kick and punch the sheet until it was bloody. Those who didn’t participate would be the next to go under the sheet.

Another punishment would require students to hold a stack of books with their outstretched arms. If the student’s arms fell, they would get beaten.

One former student said he was forced to eat an entire package of cigarettes as punishment for collecting used butts to trade with other boys. He also said he was forced into an empty forty-gallon metal drum, while other residents banged the top and sides of the drum with sticks.

Another alleges that a member of the kitchen staff at Brookside Training School would take students to his home, where he gave the boys marijuana, showed them pornographic films and fondled their genitals.

In one case, a former student said he was ordered to stand with a cigarette in his mouth while a staff member used a bullwhip to snap the cigarette out of his mouth.

Another staff member at Brookside would sneak up on boys while they were watching TV, jump on them, sit on their heads and fart, one claim alleges.

The first provincially operated training school opened in 1925 in Bowmanville with the enrolment of 16 boys. More than a dozen would be established across the province in the ensuing five decades to eventually provide thousands of children, some as young as 8, with “moral, physical, academic and vocational education” training, according to the 1965 Training School Act.

Section 8 of the Act gave family court judges the power to commit children under the age of 16 to training schools even when no crime had been committed. These children were often deemed “unmanageable” or “incorrigible.” The province repealed this section in 1977.

The courts made little distinction when it came to transgressions. Children sent to training school for truancy or running away from home could find themselves in the company of drug dealers and gang members.

“These were not treatment centres, these were basically jails for kids,” said Simona Jellinek, a Toronto lawyer who practises in the area of sexual assault law and who has represented dozens of former training school students.

“The emotional abuse alleged was just as harmful. This included staff members telling children they were no good, no one wanted them, that if they didn’t do what the staff wanted, they would never see their families again,” said Toronto lawyer Loretta Merritt, who has represented dozens of former training school residents, mostly men. “All these kinds of comments, statements and treatment were designed to really break the kids down.”

The shame that can come from suffering abuse, particularly sexual, and the fear of not being believed are what make many victims of training school abuse reluctant to come forward, she said.

“Generally, the perpetrators were expert at getting the children to think the abuse was their fault,” said Merritt. “Maybe they didn’t fight back, maybe they accepted cigarettes or other bribes, maybe they were just afraid and said nothing. But somehow, they formed the belief that it was their fault or that there was something wrong with them.”

There is an added level of complexity, she says, when there was alleged sexual abuse of a boy by a man.

“There’s this whole element of ‘what does that mean with regard to my sexuality?’ ” she said. “Being a victim doesn’t really fit in with the male myth of our society. Men are not supposed to be victims.”

Lawyers who have handled such cases say when former training school students alleging sexual abuse come forward, they often don’t make “good” witnesses in the eyes of the law. Many have criminal records. Many have tried not to remember abuse they suffered.

When former students sue, it’s not usually just about the money, Merritt says, although that financial compensation can be helpful in funding treatment and therapy.

“It’s about being heard, getting acknowledgement, standing up for themselves, seeking some form of justice, healing, and closure,” Merritt said. “The sad thing is, many people have never come forward and they take this to their grave.”

The statements of claim filed in court allege criminal acts by training school staff, yet they are being dealt with in civil court. Lawyers say former students chose the civil route because criminal convictions for sexual abuse are rare. As well, given the time periods covered by the claims—some go back 50 years—many of the alleged perpetrators are now dead.

There have been some criminal investigations into sexual abuse allegations at non-religious training schools, but with little result.

An investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police in the mid-1990s surrounding allegations of abuse at White Oaks Training School in Hagersville, Ontario saw more than 300 former students interviewed. The probe resulted in charges against two men who used to work at the school, which closed in 1982.

One of the men, Dwight Wadel, a former housemaster, was acquitted of 15 counts of sex-related charges in relation to five boys who attended the school between 1966 and 1975. In his 2001 ruling, Superior Court Justice Walter Stayshyn characterized the five complainants as “unsavoury” and noted that they all had “significant criminal records and dysfunctional lifestyles.” Wadel died in 2009. The judge should have been fired. Even if the complainants had all those characteristics;  that doesn’t mean that they weren’t abused by Wadel.

The Star found only one instance in which a former staff member at a non-religious training school was convicted on abuse charges. He was Raymond Arthur Elder, a former house manager at White Oaks, was convicted in 2000 of gross indecency and breach of trust after admitting he had a 14-year-old boy perform oral sex on him in the late 1960s. He was acquitted on nine other sex-related charges in relation to four other students due to a lack of evidence.

During his trial, it was revealed that in 1969, Elder went to the  Les Horne, as an assistant superintendent at the school  and confided about some of his behaviour to Horne. But Horne didn’t report Elder to the province or police.

“The real tragedy of this case is that nothing was done for the boy. It was obvious he was a victim and society’s answer was to ship Elder off somewhere else,” said Superior Court Justice Nick Borkovich during his ruling, according to a report in the Hamilton Spectator. The Catholic Church did the same thing with priests who sexually abused small children in their parishes. They were sent to other parishes and sexually abused children in those parishes. 

Lawyers who have handled such cases say when former training school students alleging sexual abuse come forward, they often don’t make “good” witnesses in the eyes of the law. Many have criminal records. Many have tried not to remember abuse they suffered.

When former students sue, it’s not usually just about the money, Merritt says, although that financial compensation can be helpful in funding treatment and therapy.

“It’s about being heard, getting acknowledgement, standing up for themselves, seeking some form of justice, healing, and closure,” Merritt said. “The sad thing is, many people have never come forward and they take this to their grave.”

The statements of claim filed in court allege criminal acts by training school staff, yet they are being dealt with in civil court. Lawyers say former students chose the civil route because criminal convictions for sexual abuse are rare. As well, given the time periods covered by the claims where some of the abuses go back 50 years.  Also many of the alleged perpetrators are now dead.

There have been some criminal investigations into sexual abuse allegations at non-religious training schools, but with little result.

An investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police in the mid-1990s told of allegations of abuse at White Oaks Training School in Hagersville. More than 300 former students were interviewed. The probe resulted in charges against two men who used to work at the school, which closed in 1982.

Today, the former site of Pine Ridge, which opened in 1925 as the Bowmanville Boys’ Training School is closed permanently.

As an aside, I was offered a job at that particular young offenders facility by the Superintendent back in the early 1960s.  He was interested in a disciplinary system I had designed earlier. I turned down his offer.

I had previously been the senior supervisor of an Indian Residential school in Kenora, Ontario where I had devised a disciplinary system that was used to deal with the many unruly boys in the school. It worked and it was later used successfully in a training school that was north of Toronto. No physical punishment was included in the system of discipline I designed. It was based on the withdrawal and regaining of privileges.

Buildings that housed hundreds of children for half a century are now boarded up, overgrown with weeds and covered in graffiti. No trespassing signs and security cameras warn passersby to keep away.

Despite the current dilapidated condition of the Bowmansville site, the solitary confinement cell, in which former resident Steven Greenwood spent many tortured hours when he was 15, remains. Standing outside the four-by-eight-foot concrete room, Greenwood recounted a time when he was thrown into “the hole” for 14 days while suffering from poison ivy he contracted after escaping from the school.

He said, “I had blisters on my fingers, my face, everything. They let me have one Epsom salt bath in two weeks. I was in here in the middle of summer. Can you imagine the heat in these places?” said Greenwood, who was sent to Pine Ridge in 1976 after he became a Crown ward.

A self-described drug dealer at 12 who was putting needles in his arms by 13, Greenwood came from an abusive home and resorted to stealing to support himself and his sister, he says.

After just three months at Pine Ridge, Greenwood was sent to another training school, Sprucedale, in Hagersville. His transfer was prompted, he said, after he and a group of other residents, sick of hearing about a female staff member abusing students in their beds at night, decided to put a stop to it. They confronted the female staffer, who radioed for help.

“The next thing we know a bunch of guys with baseball bats showed up. We fought back. A couple of guys pulled knives. They beat the shit out of us,” Greenwood recalled. He said he spent 11 straight days in the “hole” after that.

Greenwood’s statement of claim alleges that while at the two schools he was subjected to a range of abuse, including being sodomized by two male staffers, being forced to perform oral sex on two male staffers, and having a sexual relationship with a female staff member. He alleges staff used to tell him that he “had no future” and that he was “destined to spend many years in jail.”

“There was no self-worth taught here. If you wanted to survive in here, you better learn to fight,” said Greenwood, now 56. “Every day you looked forward to bed. Once you got your eyes closed, you prayed they stayed closed all night, that nobody bugged you. That was our way of life.”

During another escape, Greenwood says he overdosed on PCP, an anesthetic known on the street as “horse tranquilizer” or “angel dust,” and ended up at Toronto East General Hospital

Greenwood says two male staffers from Sprucedale came to get him at the hospital in a pickup truck. On the way back to the school, he believes he was raped, but can’t remember details or the identities of the men because he was still recovering from his overdose. When his drug-induced haze cleared four days later, he said, “certain parts of my body were hurt and bleeding that shouldn’t have.”

Greenwood said he wonders what qualifications these men, and other staff, had to deal with kids like him.

In February. 1973, the Globe and Mail reported that 86 per cent of the 62 supervisors at Pine Ridge had no professional training, nor were they enrolled in any upgrading courses. At Sprucedale, where Greenwood was sent later, only 30 per cent of supervisors had degrees or certificates. The numbers for the remaining four training schools profiled by the Globe weren’t much better.

“I’m speaking up now because I never had a voice when I was a kid, and nobody wanted to listen,” said Greenwood, a retired electrician, who has suffered years of tortured memories, depression and battles with addictions to hard drugs and alcohol. In 2014, he found Christianity and now wears a silver cross around his neck. Last month, he completed a three-month rehab program.

The idea was that young people went into these schools in order to learn better behaviour and improve themselves was a fallacy.  Instead, the adults in these schools broke the trust of these kids by abusing them. As a result, many of these former young offenders went straight from training school and right into adult jail and the penitentiaries in Ontario.

Following the closure of the last training school in 1984, remaining students transitioned into alternative forms of community care, such as group homes or foster homes. Some former students stayed in touch while some others drifted apart. A lot had run-ins with the law. Many are dead. Most suffered in silence.

Of the eleven former training school students who spoke to the Star, only four agreed to their name being used; recounting their experiences publicly was simply too painful, they said.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s that a large number of former students began to come forward with allegations of abuse. This was prompted, in part, by media reports surrounding settlements and benefits paid out to other victims of abuse at two Ontario training schools operated by a Roman Catholic lay order. Students of other training schools began to wonder if they, too, had cases and started reaching out to lawyers.

They lived in a moral cesspool for so many years, their minds and bodies couldn’t take it anymore. They needed somebody else to know and to understand what they went through. Stephen Burley, told his wife after 23 years of marriage about what happened to him. With her support, he reached out to a lawyer.

Hopefully, my UN Bill of Rights for young offenders will put an end to the abuses brought down on these kids who are sent to young offender facilities.  Well, we all have a right to hope.