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Calgary Herald - Saturday, February 22, 2003
Dad’s charter points blocked. Appeal court denies weapon in
The Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed a
motion Friday by a Calgary father to raise Charter of Rights and
Freedoms arguments in his case against the Calgary Health
In his appeal, Gus Sleiman is trying to argue
the CHR discriminated against him because of his marital status
as a non-custodial parent when it denied him access to the
records of a visit his son made to the Alberta Children’s
Hospital in 1994.
“If they want to shut the door today on my
argument, I’ll open it again tomorrow,” said Sleiman.
“The appeal will continue. Even if I have to
start all over again, I will.”
In Friday’s motion, Sleiman tried to win the
right to present new arguments based on the Charter of Rights,
including gender discrimination.
As part of Sleiman’s motion, the Men’s
Educational Support Association, a non-profit organization of
which Sleiman is president, tried to attain intervener status to
bring forward arguments based on the social context of
non-custodial parents’ rights.
Both parts of the motion were dismissed.
“The appeal is going to go forward on the
initial issues alone,” said Blair Carbert, the lawyer
representing the CHR. “The court found it is not appropriate to
bring in new issues.”
Sleiman moved to Calgary from Toronto with
his wife 10 years ago to start a restaurant. In 1997, he
divorced his wife, who then took their son to Ottawa.
In 1999, during a visit with his family
doctor, Sleiman discovered his son had been taken to the Alberta
Children’s Hospital as a nine-month-old infant in 1994 before
his divorce proceedings had begun.
When he went to the hospital on Aug. 10,
1999, to try to get copies of the records, he was told that as a
matter of policy the CHR does not hand out patient records to
Sleiman had been granted only limited
supervised access to his son by an Ontario court that took over
jurisdiction from Alberta.
He went to the Alberta Human Rights and
Citizenship Commission to argue discrimination based on marital
The commission initially found “merit” in the
complaint in December 1999 but later dismissed it, stating in a
document that the commission did not have jurisdiction over
The dismissal was upheld by the chief
commissioner in an appeal in July 2000. Sleiman took the matter
to the Court of Queen’s Bench, which dismissed it in July 2002.
Then Sleiman launched the current appeal.
© Copyright 2003 Calgary Herald