Spreading hate? Enzra Lavant and Jonathan Rosenthal debate

Should we have our political or religious views on a test in order to be allowed to have children in Canada?

Lawyers debate the seizure of two children from their home due to fears that their father, an alleged neo-Nazi, was filling their heads and marking their bodies with messages of hate.

CTV Newsnet

Origins of the swastika

Swastika     The derivation of the word

Swastika, Ontario

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski and John Jalsevac

WINNIPEG, July 8, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The bizarre story of a Winnipeg mom who had her children seized last March by Manitoba's Child and Family Services Ministry, after her daughter went to school with a swastika drawn on her arm, has become a focal point for the debate over how much say government should have in how parents raise their children.

Conservative commentators who believe that Canada's courts and governmental authorities are becoming dangerously overzealous in their interference in the affairs of private citizens are condemning the decision to remove the children from their home, despite their parents' public and unapologetic adherence to white supremacist philosophies.

Others have defended the decision, saying that the children were emotionally endangered by the nature of their parents' ideological affiliations.

Manitoba Child and Family Services snatched the children because of "concerns that the parents' conduct might endanger the emotional well-being of the children...and that the children may be at risk of harm due to the parents' behaviour and associations," according to an affidavit from a child welfare worker.

The affidavit also says "there were concerns regarding drug and alcohol use," although recent coverage of the case has put scant emphasis on these concerns.

The mother of the children told CTV last week that she is not a neo-nazi, despite her use of the swastika, and that she is simply proud of her European heritage.

"It's OK to be proud to be a native, it's OK to preach black power," she said, adding, "But when you're white and you're proud, it's wrong."

Manitoba Child and Family Services is attempting to gain permanent guardianship over the children.

On Friday, conservative commentator Ezra Levant sparred against Toronto area lawyer Jonathan Rosenthal in a heated CTV Newsnet debate on the issue.

Levant, who is becoming an increasingly well known figure in Canada, largely for his central role in seeking the eradication or radical restructuring of Canada's human rights commissions, argued that "having odious political views is neither a crime in itself, nor a legal reason to break up families."

Parents' rights to have and raise children as they wish, said Levant, trump the government's beliefs about what children should or should not be taught. "In Canada, everyone has the right to have children," he said, observing, "If we have a political test for the state to break up parents, no-one is safe."

Referring to the swastika drawn on the girl's arm, Levant agreed that it is a powerful symbol of an evil ideology. However, removing children from their home because their parents are alleged neo-nazis, he said, is equivalent to punishing the parents and children for a thought crime.

"[Child Services is] basically saying that there should be a political test now for whether or not you get to keep your children," he argued." You don't have to do anything to hurt them. You don't have to be a bad parent. But if you have the wrong political ideas, you can have your kids taken away as a punishment to you and them."

Rosenthal responded to Levant by arguing that, given that the swastika is a hate symbol that is associated with the massacre of millions of individuals, the children of parents' who allow them to go to school with a swastika on their arms are "in serious need of serious protection."

"A seven-year-old should not be wearing a universal sign of hatred anywhere," said Rosenthal. "And if the parents don't understand that, that's a very dangerous thing. They can have that view, but to put a swastika on a seven-year-old, and to let her go to school, if you don't think that's disgusting sir [Levant], you're very troubled."

Manitoba Child and Family Services guidelines allow child welfare workers to investigate any situation where there is concern for the safety or well-being of a child, including cases involving "religious or political practices...if those practices could be harmful to the child," said Nadine Delisle, communications co-ordinator for Family Services and Housing.

The heavy-handed tactics of various child welfare organizations, often directed at children from religious families, has been documented by LifeSiteNews over the years.

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