At any rate, let's see what the neocons have to say today:
We have an article here entitled Dads on the Run, or as I like to call it...How to be a Feckin' Deadbeat...
I'm posting it in its entirety, as I don't want you fine people to have to feel as violated as I do right now...
Dads on the run
You've lost your wife, your kids, your house, and any money you earn goes to your ex. Your only hope may be the highly secretive organization that is helping hundreds of divorced Canadian dads flee the country and start a new life
Candis McLean - September 5, 2005
In January, Gordon, a B.C. divorced dad, was desperately e-mailing men's groups for help. Having lost his job more than a year ago, he had nevertheless been ordered by a judge in December to pay $22,000 in annual child support for his three kids--kids he hadn't seen in 24 months. He was out of money, out of resources and was becoming depressed and suicidal. Then he received a strange e-mail. "We know what you are going through," it read. "Many of your Canadian and American comrades/brothers/friends are taking asylum to start a new life away from the oppression of their governments. To save their lives. Do you want to join them?"
Unsure of what to do, Gordon (not his real name) replied with an e-mail requesting more information. What followed must have seemed like a spy novel come to life: Gordon was told to go to a public library and e-mail the details of his situation, using s-mail, a highly-encrypted e-mail service, that could not be monitored by the FBI or RCMP. He was to use a woman's name as his moniker. "I will then give you another s-mail address and will never use this one again," the source, who called himself Sandy, explained.
Sandy identified himself as a men's rights activist. He confided in Gordon that he had been through a messy divorce of his own: his ex-wife had accused him of sexually abusing their children. And though she eventually admitted all the allegations were made up, the 11 years of court battles that Sandy had fought to clear his name had cost him over a million dollars, leaving him destitute, and inspiring him to help other dads who were facing prosecution and ruin in bitter divorces--by helping them escape.
Sandy instructed Gordon to erase all references to their communication on his home computer and then clean his hard drive. "After that please comm [communicate] only from public libraries. Now, if you want to go any further, send me a new email address, NOT IN YOUR NAME!!! We will set a time and I will give you a phone number. Get a calling card from a convenience store, pay cash. You will use that to call me from a payphone to a payphone." He also prepared Gordon for the major life change he would have to make to extricate himself from his legal troubles. "Start selling and pawning everything you can w/out tipping your hand," Sandy wrote. "Do you have construction skills, a craft or trade that is saleable on the cash market?" Then he told Gordon to "pack as if you are taking a sudden vacation," and gave him the sort of instructions one might need if he were on the lam from the law, or trying to escape persecution in some oppressive country:
PACK LIGHT - CLOTHES, TOOLS OF YOUR TRADE, AND MINIMAL FISHING & CAMPING GEAR. PAY CASH ON THE ROAD. GO TO SMALL STORES W/OUT CAMERAS IF YOU CAN FIND THEM. TAKE EXTRA FUEL SO THAT YOU GET 5-600 MI BEFORE STOPPING TO FUEL. DELETE THIS MESSAGE AND ALL OTHER CORRESPONDENCE W/ME AND OTHERS. COMMIT ADDRESSES TO MEMORY.
In fact, Gordon would be on the lam from the law. And the organization that Sandy represented, the Planetary Alliance for Fathers in Exile, believes that dads just like Gordon all over North America are being persecuted by an oppressive regime--the family court system. According to their website, PAFE is dedicated to helping fathers escape and obtain new identities and jobs in Europe. The way PAFE explains it, divorced dads are at war with a system they cannot hope to defeat. The website claims that 100,000 men are annually forced to leave the U.S. alone due to the "feminist fraud" that has tainted the justice system against men. "This exodus is proof that America is living in a war zone with or without Iraq," the PAFE site reads. "There are dead, dying, wounded and missing among its ranks each day. The number of men forced into illegal and treasonous debtor's prisons in America stands at around a quarter of a million. There are still men paying into this diseased system, so that they can see their children and 'be safe' month to month
. . . [N]o father in his right mind should go along and support this fraud. Fathers have 3 choices--take their kids into hiding overseas, stay and show civil disobedience, or go overseas alone to start a new life. All else is slavedom or death."
In his first Canadian interview ever, the man who heads up PAFE, "Jean Kelly," admits that even his own name is a pseudonym. A decade ago he was a New York City emergency room physician, when a friend of his, a Canadian doctor, approached him to help him find a way to reduce the suicide rates among divorced fathers, and to help his associates who found themselves unable to continue with their careers because they were consumed by custody, access and child-tax issues. Kelly happened to hear about a policy begun by the French government, seeking highly educated immigrants as part of its competitiveness policy. He immediately realized that the opportunity represented a way out for thousands of men who thought they had none.
Today, Jean Kelly says he has four nationalities, and goes by two different names, and he and the colleagues he has helped are all in hiding. Over the past five years, he says, his organization, headquartered in Nice, France, has helped 4,700 divorced fathers from several countries to escape what they consider to be "illegal and inhumane" custody and access laws, by moving to Europe and changing their identities. Nearly 100,000 men, Kelly says, have fled from Great Britain and 137,000 from Australia. So far, he claims 1,000 Canadian men have gone into exile.
"My former Canadian wife took my two daughters to her mother, claiming sexual misconduct," says one father, who chooses to call himself "Lee" rather than reveal his identity for this story. Lee fled Canada and was able to find work, through the assistance of PAFE, in the information technology industry, with a major multinational corporation in Japan. He could not stay in Canada. "I had 17 witnesses in court stating they never saw anything unusual in my behaviour towards my daughters. It was no use," Lee says. "The Toronto judge gave her custody, and myself supervised access. If I ever was to have [another] family I would be greatly disadvantaged both financially and socially with the burden of the decision of the judge. I chose to cut all ties to my past and start anew."
Some of the men PAFE helps are hiding from convictions that would see them go to jail if they were ever tracked down. But many others simply see no future in Canada, where they believe they will never be treated fairly. "Mainly, though," says Kelly, "they love children, they love to have a relationship, and hardly any new wife is going to put up with having to pay tax to the ex. Especially those who are highly educated professional women, because their income, as well as their husband's, is going to be taken into consideration in the [support] equation."
Kelly says that once they are overseas, the men find work all across the European Union. And the opportunities are tremendous for men who have skills: "We've got scientific institutions, high-speed railways, a space agency," says Kelly. "We've got the biggest passenger plane in the world. We take anyone who's got experience and education. For those without, we provide work in the building industry, farming and transportation." PAFE says that officials in the French and Spanish governments are actively helping the group to make it easier for skilled workers to start a new life. "We take the skilled and highly educated gladly--engineers, high-tech computer skills, scientists--but we are also doing a lot of humanitarian work, preventing people from going to jail." Among his clients, he says, "a large number have PhDs--the 'who's who' among scientists and engineers." Men who aren't highly skilled often work in the underground economy and pay no taxes. "We help anyone who wants to have a life again and use their potential to the fullest," Kelly says.
In addition to helping what he sees as a persecuted group, Kelly is paid to bring fathers over by the companies that want to hire them--like a headhunter. For the father on the run, the services are free. All he must do is get himself overseas. "Everything is arranged. We can even provide an assortment of East European women from whom to choose a new wife--those that don't suffer the illusion of feminist indoctrination dished out by Hollywood about leaving marriages for imagined greener pastures," Kelly adds.
Fleeing one's home naturally means leaving behind children. But the majority of fathers are non-custodial parents who have no access to their kids anyway. "Too many fathers don't see their kids because there were sexual allegations made against them by these women in order to get cash and custody," says Kelly. "They are not classified as missing people, but have to be crossed off the child support computers because they've been out of the system for two years. They are known to be overseas because, upon leaving the country, the information from their passport is fed into the computer."
One father who identifies himself simply as "David," who fled Canada several years back, writes in an e-mail to the Western Standard about the decision to leave his children behind: "I figured that, despite the heartache of leaving the kids, either I don't see them from jail, or I don't see them from the U.K. So I chose to not see them from the U.K." David, who works in the computer industry, says that his child support had been calculated by the Justice Department based on a salary he was earning during the nineties' dot-com boom. When his salary fell, along with the fortunes of the computer sector, he was no longer able to keep up with payments. David insists that he continues to pay support according to Canadian government guidelines, but he now uses his actual salary in the formula. "However that's not good enough for the government," he writes. "I still probably won't be able to return to Canada due to the arrest warrant which has been issued, although I can't be extradited for a non-criminal offence. I try to speak with my children on the phone each week, but it's not the same."
Edward Kruk, a social work professor at UBC and author of the book, Divorce and Disengagement: Patterns of Fatherhood Within and Beyond Marriage, confirms that, in his studies of "disengaged non-custodial fathers," he has interviewed fathers living in Canada and Britain. And, he says, in his experience, their decision to leave their families, their careers and their country behind is typically made only when there appears to be no hope for them to escape their desperate situation. "When parents cannot agree on a parenting plan and the court must decide, 85 per cent [of decisions] result in sole maternal custody, 10 per cent in sole paternal custody, and the other five in a variety of arrangements including split custody," such as splitting the kids up between the parents, says Kruk. But shared parenting--or joint physical custody--is virtually non-existent in Canada. That's despite the fact that the body of study "indicates that on every single adjustment measure, children fare better in joint custody than sole," Kruk adds.
The judicial system's structural barriers, the mechanisms and institutions that polarize parties, and the feeling that many men have of being seen strictly as someone to be harassed for financial support rather than someone to provide social and psychological support for their families--all that, combined with the pain of being unable to see their children, can be overwhelming. Many divorced fathers, Kruk says, find they get little support through the mental health system where they are considered "deadbeat" or violent and irresponsible--both as marital partners and parents. "A lot of stereotypes dominate the field," Kruk acknowledges. "It's rare to find much sympathy in my own field [of social work]. Most programs are geared to toward mothers and children, as though children's needs were identical to mothers, but there is almost nothing for fathers. For all these reasons, many fathers just disappear."
When the father is reduced to the status of visitor, the relationship becomes constrained and artificial, particularly for fathers who were previously very close to their kids. "They soon find they have very little influence and aren't really able to parent, so they take on an avuncular, rather than a parental, role," Kruk says. "The stereotype is that they don't care, but the reality is that fathers have made every effort to establish meaningful parental relationships and are thwarted." In his own study, Kruk found those fathers who are most attached and involved with their children's care, and who want to share parenting, are the ones most at risk of losing access over time, because the courts often view their attempts to gain more access as harassing their former wives. Child Custody and Domestic Violence: A Call for Safety and Accountability, a 2003 training book for family court judges, by London, Ont., psychologist Peter Jaffe, actually warns judges to be suspect of fathers looking to increase access: "Many batterers pursue visitation as a way of getting access to their ex-partners," writes Jaffe. "They may seek custody to engage in prolonged litigation during which their legal counsel and the court process mirrors the dynamics of the abusive relationship." In the past, studies showed that over 50 per cent of non-custodial divorced fathers gradually lose all contact with their children, notes Kruk. At that point, it's not hard to see why some dads begin to consider a fresh start altogether.
While PAFE exists precisely to help fathers escape what it considers unjust custody and support arrangements, the ideal, says Jean Kelly, would be for dads to be able to stay home, near their children, and be treated fairly by the courts. "If Canada wants a healthy society it should not bow to minority interest groups," he says, referring to the feminist activists he says have upended the justice system, turning it against men. "Individuals anywhere will escape from laws which are unfair and damaging to themselves and society."
The societal damage isn't all that hard to see: hundreds, perhaps thousands, of skilled and educated men fleeing Canada for life is something any economist would easily recognize as an undesirable policy outcome. Kelly estimates that in a typical case, a single exiled father could cost Canada $2 million in lost skills and foregone future income. And there is the immeasurable cost that comes from such a large number of children growing up without a father in their life.
But Kelly speculates that, in many cases, politicians are unlikely to worry about those sorts of things: "Feminist governments are happy they [the dads] are overseas because they are not the ones who are going to vote for them." For those Canadians, however, who are uncomfortable with the idea of so many fathers being driven out of Canada, the answer is to demand a fairer divorce system. There should be a requirement for joint physical custody in all but the most extreme cases, with the financial responsibility for the kids falling to both parents, rather than aggressively going after the father's income alone. "That gives incentive to the fathers, saves the kids and saves on taxes," says Kelly. "Fathers would be working and contributing." More importantly, they could remain in their old lives, in contact with their loved ones. For, while lawmakers here may largely see them as financial sponsors, and governments abroad see them as a way to attain badly needed skills and labour, in the end these men on the run are, above all, somebody's dad.