Samra Zafar, keynote
Toronto Reference Library
In-person / Virtual Event
The Honourable Justice Heather McGee will preside over this year’s Pre-Conference Institute
October 13, 2022, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The Advocates Society, 250 Yonge Street, Suite 2700, Toronto
Expert Evidence: Effective Examination and Cross-Examination of a Mental Health Professional in a Relocation Case
Justice Heather McGee, Superior Court of Justice
Julie Hannaford, J K Hannaford Barristers
Dr. Barbara Fidler, Psychologist
Martha McCarthy, McCarthy Hansen and Company
Watch and learn from the dynamic duo of Julie Hannaford and Martha McCarthy and the experienced expert witness.
The process for having a mental health professional declared an expert will be reviewed and the strengths and weaknesses of the expert’s report will be critiqued throughout the mock trial.
Legal professionals will learn techniques to conduct an examination in chief and cross examination.
Mental health professionals will learn how to give evidence consistent with the scope of their expertise.
Annual Conference Agenda:
Friday, October 14th
Welcome and Introduction
Developed by Big Bang Beige for Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke for National Day of Truth & Reconciliation
Experiences and perspectives of youth raised in care
Children’s Aid Society Teens Ottawa
Disclosure of children’s counselling notes
Ian Ross, Office of the Children’s Lawyer
Dr. Rana Pishva, Psychologist
Justice Nicole Tellier, Superior Court of Justice
Join a judge, lawyer, and mental health professional consider the implications of disclosing children’s counselling notes in legal proceedings. This panel will provide a legal framework for release of counsellors’ notes, applicable legal tests, and other considerations found in caselaw. A robust discussion of the pros and cons of disclosure from the child’s perspective will follow – ethical issues and alternatives will be highlighted. Finally, a review of responsibilities of the OCL, family law lawyers, and mental health professionals to safeguard children’s rights and wellbeing will be shared.
Trans and gender-fluid children and youth
Professor Claire Houston, Faculty of Law, Western University
Justice Manjusha Pawagi, Ontario Court of Justice
Patric Senson, Office of the Children’s Lawyer
Family court judges are increasingly being asked to resolve parenting disputes involving conflict over a child’s gender expression or identity. This panel will draw on the medical and social science literature and reported decisions to provide social and legal frameworks for considering the best interests of trans and gender-fluid children and youth. The panel will apply children’s participation rights and offer a number of suggestions for resolving parental conflicts over a child’s gender, including hearing and placing significant weight on the views and preferences of the child.
Presentation A: Openness post-adoption
Pat Convery, Social Worker
Kenneth Atkinson, Office of the Children’s Lawyer
Elizabeth McCarty, Office of the Children’s Lawyer
Chantel Carvallo, Child Counsel, Collaborative Family Lawyer and Mediator
This panel will share social science research, practical tools, and a legal framework for understanding issues related to Openness. Pat Convery has developed a toolkit for Openness Mediators. This toolkit will assist in helping the parties reach Openness Agreements that focus on the individual needs and interests of the child being placed for adoption, recognize and include the people who are important to that child, and recognize the realities of the adult parties involved. Ms. Convery will be discussing the tool kit and it will be provided to attendees.
Ms. Convery will be joined by Elizabeth McCarty and Kenneth Atkinson who will provide the legal framework for Openness as outlined in the CYFSA followed by a discussion of pivotal cases and recent trends. Chantel Carvallo will wrap-up by sharing her own lived experience and the importance of hearing the child’s voice.
Presentation B: How to effectively present evidence of culture in a family or child protection matter
Meccana Ali, Clinical Supervisor, Khalil Center Canada
Lisa Laborde, Lawyer, Mediator
Justice Pamela MacEachern, Superior Court of Justice
Tawny Allison, articling student with Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa
This panel on culture and family law will provide a robust multidisciplinary discussion about how to bring evidence of culture before the Court. Panel members will share a legal framework, obligations of the OCL related to culture and identity under the Divorce Act amendments, and practical skills for talking with children in the middle of family law/child protection disputes about culture and identity. Possible accommodations for children to help them develop a sense of belonging in a complex and conflictual family situation will be shared. The panel includes Tawny Allison sharing her own lived experience at the intersection of culture and family law.