Court ruling vindicates couple who lost foster girls over refusal to say Easter Bunny is real

HAMILTON, ON: The Justice Centre is pleased with the ruling of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the case of Derek and Frances Baars v. Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton (CAS) . The decision, released Tuesday March 6, declares that CAS violated the Baars’ Charter freedoms of conscience, religion and expression by ordering them to tell the two young girls in their care that the Easter bunny is real, and by closing the Baars’ foster home when they refused to lie.

The Court vindicated the Baars, finding that “the Baars were constantly promoting the children’s wellbeing” and “were clearly operating with the children’s best interests in mind” (see para 139). Not only that, the Court found that the Baars “complied with all of the [biological] mother’s requests” (para 138).

In its decision the Court reiterated the question of “is it more important to have the Easter Bunny or permanency?” before finding “[t]he [CAS] very clearly chose the Easter Bunny” (para 145).

The Court was “more than satisfied that the CAS’ actions interfered substantially with the Baars’ religious beliefs” (para 73), including their belief that it is wrong to lie.  Further, in finding that CAS violated the Baars’ freedom of expression, the Court noted that the social worker’s “arbitrary conduct effectively sought to compel the Baars to express an opinion with regard to the Easter Bunny that was not their own” (para 114).

Derek and Frances Baars, who now reside in Alberta, still desire to serve as foster or adoptive parents, but the decision of CAS to abruptly remove their foster children and close their foster home tarnished their record.  The Court ordered that when responding to inquiries from foster or adoption agencies concerning the Baars, CAS “shall fully apprise that agency about this ruling.”

The court application was launched in April 2017, after CAS had closed down the Baars foster home because the couple refused to tell the girls in their care that the Easter Bunny is a real entity.