HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Minister Spearheads Child Seizure Law
Pubdate: Sun, 23 Oct 2005
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2005 Calgary Herald
Author: Leanne Dohy
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Forsyth Pushes For Apprehension Of Kids At Grow Ops

Exposing children to illegal drug activity is child abuse, Alberta's
children's services minister says, and proposed legislation allowing
the apprehension of children in grow ops or other drug houses will
make that clear.

"It's an addition to the toolbox," Heather Forsyth said

"A drug scene is a crime scene, and if a child is there, we want to
make it clear that it is also a child abuse scene, and needs to be
treated as such."

The template for the legislation, which will be introduced in the
spring and was discussed by Premier Ralph Klein last week in Red Deer,
will look to the Drug Endangered Children programs in the United States.

Forsyth travelled to Washington in August, meeting officials who work
with the programs, which vary from state to state.

The programs co-ordinate efforts of law enforcement, medical services
and child welfare workers to meet the needs of children found in drug

"We are going to be unrelenting in the pursuit of safety for
children," Forsyth said.

Stephen Jenuth, president of the Alberta Civil Liberties Association,
questioned the need for specific legislation.

"I would think that if a child were at risk, that child would be
apprehended," Jenuth said. "If they are not, then they wouldn't be."

He said the apprehension of children because a parent has been charged
with a drug offence isn't automatically the necessary choice.

"Just because a parent is accused of selling drugs, you're going to
seize a child and put them in foster care, possibly ruining their
life?" Jenuth said.

"Foster care hasn't always been the most positive experience for
children. The best solution is always a loving parent, and if they
need support, give them support."

Provincial child and youth advocate John Mould is looking forward to
discussing the draft legislation with the minister.

"I'll be very interested to look at what's being proposed, and I
expect that at some point I will have an opportunity to provide some
input," Mould said.
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