Canada
Quebec judge orders kids to state-run daycare

Val Catton, a librarian from the Port Colborne library, reads to children at the Niagara Regional Child Care Centre in Port Colborne.

Credits: ALLAN BENNER/QMI Agency

KRIS SIMS, PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU

A Quebec judge has ordered a family to send their two youngest children to state-run daycare for "socialization."

Along with raising concerns about speech delays in one of the children who has hearing problems, Judge Nicole Bernier said the kids, aged three and five, need "socialization" outside of the family.

The parents also have two more children, aged seven and nine, who were forced last year to send their once home-schooled kids to public school under a court-order.

The most recent compulsory daycare decision was handed down in March and is now being heard by the Quebec Superior Court.

Translated from French, Bernier said of the parents: "They have isolated themselves with their children in a very limited view of what constitutes education of a child, wanting to protect children from the external environment they perceive as bad. They have deprived the children of a proper education."

The parents have not been charged with negligence or abuse. Their family doctor testified, saying the children were all healthy and well cared-for.

The Catholic family is being represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

"We are seeing a real move against freedom of education in Quebec." said Paul Faris, President of the HSLDA's Canadian branch. "Every parent should be concerned about this."

The ruling is making international headlines with homeschooling groups.

"I was shocked to see this in Canada. I would have suspected something like this coming out of Sweden and Germany, and their education laws date back to the Third Reich." said Michael Donnelly, HSLDA's Director of International Relations based in Virginia.

The group represented a German family threatened with prison time for homeschooling their children. the Romeikes fled their country and were granted political asylum in the US last year.

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