Image Credit: Pixabay

Requirement to say ‘Easter Bunny is real’ violated couple’s charter rights: court

Couple argued telling children in their care the character was real violates religious beliefs

A couple’s charter rights were violated when a children’s aid society closed the pair’s foster home over their refusal to tell two young girls the Easter Bunny is real, an Ontario court has ruled.

Frances and Derek Baars, who describe themselves as a Christian couple with “strong religious faith,” took the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton to court in April 2017, about a year after the girls in their care — aged three and five — were taken away and their foster home was closed.

The couple said the Easter Bunny was at the core of the dispute and argued telling children in their care the character was real was a violation of their religious beliefs — a position Superior Court Judge A.J. Goodman agreed with.

“There is ample evidence to support the fact that the children were removed because the Baars refused to either tell or imply that the Easter Bunny was delivering chocolate to the Baars’ home,” Goodman wrote in a decision released Tuesday. “I am more than satisfied that the society actions interfered substantially with the Baars’ religious beliefs.”

Court heard that CAS support worker Tracey Lindsay had visited the Baars and acknowledged that the girls looked well cared for in all respects.

However, the Baars argued Lindsay told them it was part of their duty as foster parents to teach the girls about the Easter Bunny, court documents show.

The Baars told Lindsay they intended to hide chocolate eggs and have the girls find them on Easter and play other games, but didn’t plan not to speak to the children about the Easter Bunny, unless the girls specifically asked questions about the character, documents said.

The CAS contended Lindsay “never asked (the Baars) to lie or betray their faith.”

Goodman found the Baars did try to have the children enjoy holidays such as Easter and Christmas.

“There is sufficient evidence to assert that the Baars did, indeed, attempt to preserve the children’s enjoyment of the holidays, even of they were not able, pursuant to their religious beliefs, to positively perpetuate the existence of the fictitious characters that are associated with those holidays,” Goodman wrote.

Reached at the couple’s Edmonton home, Derek Baars said they are “very thankful” for the judge’s decision.

“Many Christians have been praying for us and so behind the actions of the judge, for which we’re very thankful, we see the hand of God to direct him in the judgment,” Baars said, adding they hope the decision will be helpful for other Christians hoping to foster or adopt children.

Baars said they are trying to adopt a child and hope the ruling will aid in that process.

In light of the Baars’ desire to be adoptive or foster parents, Goodman ordered the Hamilton CAS to ”fully apprise” any agency inquiring about the couple’s suitability of the ruling.

Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Hamilton CAS, said he hadn’t read the decision and couldn’t comment on it directly, but said the CAS could have handled things better in its dealings with the Baars.

At the time the court action was launched he had said that staff and foster parents were expected to put their “personal beliefs and values aside” when caring for children who are coming from “different settings.”

Verticchio said Wednesday that the CAS has made changes in the way it deals with foster parents in the wake of the Baars case.

Peter Cameron, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sunshine Valley songbird releases EP

Fifteen-year-old Ashley Pater has been singing and performing since age 9

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Hope arena turns green for hockey tourney

A second attempt at green ice, with proper ice paint, after food colouring experiment last year

Project Hope celebrates first birthday

Also: lego-mania comes to town, lineup of all-female comedians entertains Friday

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

LETTERS: Two views of oil pipeline protests

U.S. and other petroleum-rich countries aren’t cutting production

Canadian Paralympic team picked up record 28 medals

The 55 athletes strong had set a cautious goal of 17 medals for PyeongChang

Canadian comic Mike MacDonald dies at 63

Ottawa-born comedian had performed on David Letterman

B.C. VIEWS: Speculation tax, cabin tax or asset tax?

Targeting empty homes seems confused and ineffective

Inspections, training needed to prevent repeat of Fernie ammonia leak across B.C.

Ammonia is inherently dangerous and should be not used in skating and curling rinks, says one expert

Fraser Valley Thunderbirds take game one

Quarter final BC Hockey Major Midget League series underway

RCMP move to arrest pipeline protesters at entrance to Trans Mountain work site

28 demonstrators began blocking the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s work site at about 10 a.m. Saturday

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Most Read