DONNA LAFRAMBOISE (ďDLĒ) AND CAROLYN VAN Ee (ďCVĒ)
[As noted elsewhere, Ms. VanEe is a former president of ECMAS-Edmonton, phoned by the reporter right after
the former vice president, Mr. St. Germaine.]
DL:††††† Hi Carolyn, my name is Donna Laframboise.
DL:††††† lm a journalist with the National Post.
CV:††††† Great. Iíve read a lot of your writing.
DL:††††† Cool oh cool. Have I caught you at a bad time?
CV:††††† No not at all.
DL:††††† No? Okay, um im, weíre hoping that you might have a few minutes to chat with me about ECMAS Edmonton.
DL:††††† Um, I have the sad duty to, to write a story about ECMAS which um you know Iíve been familiar with more, with more with ECMAS Calgary I think than with Edmonton, but you know ECMAS has been a great organization Iíve always heard the best Ďthings about it until very recently and I am a little concerned about the news that Iíve heard recently and
CV:††††† Could you just hold for one sec I just got another call.
DL:††††† No problem.
CV:††††† Hello there.
DL:††††† Hi there.
CV:††††† Hi, I am sorry about that.
DL:††††† No problem.
CV:††††† They have a job coming in and they were just calling to make sure I am here.
DL:††††† Well do you want me to call you back at some other time?
CV:††††† Oh no, no thatís fine.† Um but I think what I, I may not be able to help you um maybe as much as somebody else.
CV:††††† Um, I am not the President anymore.
CV:††††† Um, the, the President of the group is Bob Bouvier
CV:††††† and does this have to do with Vice-Presidencies?
CV:††††† Yeah, and yeah I know I was supposed to
speaking with Mike actually out of
CV:††††† They said you know I donít, I donít know what the big issue is on this but I know that there is somebody out there um doesnít personally like the fellow and um you know they seem to have you know a personal vendetta um you know kinda stir the pile here a little bit. [By the time the reporter phoned, the former president had been told by others about Ms. Malenfant's personal reasons for stirring up trouble.]† [Back]
DL:††††† Right, right.
CV:††††† But um, um do you have Bobís phone number?
DL:††††† Yes I do, I sort of have this long list of people who never had anything to do with ECMAS really, not quite but yep. What is wrong is that irn sort of making my way through um what I why im calling some people who, who had an earlier association is because sometimes once youíve got some distance frorn an organization sometimes itís easier to have some prospective sometimes itís easier to say things you might not want to say when youíre still kind of intimately involved in the group
††††††††††† [In calling the former president next, the reporter again says right off the bat that this is why she's phoning. In the conversation that follows she is again unsuccessful in getting negative words to print.]†† †† †††††††††
DL:††††† so you know so thatís why im sort of calling some older people. [The former president
does not go along with this request in the interview, then sends an email the next day:]†††† [Next]††
CV:††††† Yeah sure, not a problem, yeah I thought maybe you know because I still get calls from reporters locally and itís like um I canít tell you about the day-to-day.
DL:††††† Right, right.
CV:††††† Well, sure I would be happy to answer any questions.
DL:††††† Okay. What, what years were you President?
CV:††††† Oh boy, um I was
DL:††††† Sorry.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† JJ00539
CV:††††† im just trying to think, I think from Ď94 right around there till two years ago
DL:††††† Okay so Ď99?
CV:††††† Well yeah, it was it was almost five years that I was you know directly right in there.
DL:††††† Okay. And um can you sort of give me some like, I really am going to be very careful to make the point that look ECMAS has this marvellous and honourable history um so can you sort of give me some, some kind of details of things that you feel ECMAS accomplished when you were there and you were sort of at the helm guiding it?
CV:††††† Yeah, actually I think a tremendous amount when, when I started with the group um a fellow named Phil Bouler and another guy had started um you know ECMAS in Edmonton and um you know my husband, im, im a second spouse, so my husband was going through all the you know no access, high maintenance you know blah, blah, blah and um you know itís just such a frustrating time, so I you know I went to them mostly for support.
DL:††††† When would that be? What year would that be?
CV:††††† Um that would have been Ď93 early Ď94.
CV:††††† And um and yeah I just, I kinda thought to rnyself you know, you know they were talking about changes need to be made, the system isnít fair the way it is um you know, kind of the whole line.† And I said you know darn rights and im gonna see if†† I can do something about this because you know not only you know does a divorce affect my husband, his ex-wife and the kids, itís the second family, our children I mean just everybody.
CV:††††† You know and it just goes on down the line, and um, so I did I, I became involved and you know um at that time we had just started having some meetings with um you know some Provincial Government people and very early on um you know I think before I became President there was a meeting set up with um the Provincial Justice Minister at the time Brian Evans.
DL:††††† Oh really, okay.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† JJ00540
CV:††††† Yep. And um we actually, thatís when we let people know, you know you always have contact all over the place, people in Lethbridge and Calgary and such, came up for that and that really got the ball rolling, that got you know Calgary interested in, in starting an ECMAS group um you know Lethbridge, Fort McMurray you know there was interest all over.
DL:††††† Right, right.
CV:††††† And um yeah, so I mean that was I guess the number one thing and, and from that, that helped to open the doors um you know to working with the Provincial Government
CV:††††† Um, you know, and itís, itís been a long road up if you will um you know getting some credibility understanding that it's not just you know a bunch of angry men ah that donít want to pay support you know there are real issues here um you know the lives of children, you know where they are being alienated from their fathers um you know some arenít getting proper support, like thereís, there are all kinds of things† to deal with and um you know from that time we had, weíd bring speakers in you know
CV:††††† have public forums and that kind of thing.
We were able to get our group involved um you know again Provincially in
DL:††††† Law day?
CV:††††† Law day once a year ah the Court House has you know basically itís kind of a lawyers bring their families down show them their stuff, let people have access to the Court House you know on not a scary basis.
CV:††††† And lets them know you know theyíve got all the different agencies, support groups and community agencies that assist with court and police and that kind of thing they set up booths and that there, and so we finally you know were able to be a part of that as well.
DL:††††† Oh cool. So in what way? Would you have your own booth?
CV:††††† We, we had a table set up with information about our organization and what help might be out there, you know, we were um helping to support the ah parenting after separation course.
DL:††††† Oh wow, okay.
CV:††††† Yeah, um I mean and, and you know back with that too, um Madam Justice * you know the big promoter of that you know way back when I, I personally too sat down and met with her um you know talking about these issues and stuff, you know trying to you know weíve tried to really um contact everybody you know, getting different perspectives, what can we do as a group, you know um to affect some positive change.
CV:††††† And then, and then of course you know when times gone on, um dealing with Ottawa, you know and the * senate committees, um you know, first of all too you know with the maintenance committee and then on from that and also in Alberta just you know recently the group has been working ah more closely with Maintenance Enforcement and um helping to get people understanding how that system works and that itís not as you know for the longest time, particularly for men to phone in, you know they truly felt like criminals, um you know being dealt with there, and so that situation is slowly you know evolving and changing and that as well. You know and weíve continued you know Provincially and Federally as well to try and you know be working with the government, working on legislation, we did finally get not the bill that we wanted here in Alberta on access enforcement you know but a start to it.
DL:††††† Okay. So what would you have changed with the bill?
CV:††††† From what it is now?
CV:††††† It, it still it doesnít have a lot of teeth
CV:††††† but as with anything you have to start somewhere.
CV:††††† You know, um you know, weíve got to give it a try see if itís working and ah you know itís because there still really wasnít any um any big penalty for you know actually um denying the access, um you know, as always itís just such a long process even with that and um but you know, and I donít actually, because I havenít been involved as much since that bills come into place I donít know if itís effective† or not.
DL:††††† Okay.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† JJ00542
DL:††††† Okay. So your actually having a life again and not, not bleeding and breathing all these terrible horror stories.
CV:††††† But, yeah, thatís pretty much it, you know I, I try and keep ah connected
CV:††††† With, with the group and stuff but I just you know really didnít have the energy for the ah you know continual lobbying and that kind of thing although like with the Federal elections um you know I was out there again because I donít agree with what Anne McLellan has done with the you know Federally and so worked to get some information out there on how, how you know, sheís been stalling you know in the election and that but ah again otherwise itís been, Iíve been kind of quiet.
CV:††††† Just in the background observing
DL:††††† Right Okay, well as, as youíve probably heard, last week ECMAS Edmonton had their elections and the gentleman who was elected as the Vice-President, um his name is [Tim] Adams
DL:††††† and um he has um a rather unsavoury past I think, is a probably the best way to put
it. I um he was disbarred as a lawyer and he, when the Law Society disbarred him he appealed the disbarment and he hired Eddie Greenspan to make, argue his case. Um they went to the Alberta Court of Appeal and three judges heard the arguments and rejected them. And you and I both know that um judges donít always make these sensible decisions, but um in my view, ah after reading their ten page ruling in this case, um I think they made a just decision. Um I donít know if what Im telling you is news but let me tell you what I know because, because you know
CV:††††† Yeah irn still actually in dark on the exact details.
DL:††††† Well, what, what happened was he was practising as a lawyer, he had a client who was a sixteen year old prostitute and he um was also representing her boyfriend who was in jail. He gets her bail but the boyfriend is still in jail and sheís concerned that he do what he can to get the boyfriend out and he um goes looking for her on the track and propositions her and as it so happens the police notice him doing this and so they talk to the girl and ask her to wear a wire and so he propositions her again, she goes with him to a motel room and um thatís when the police arrested him. So and he played [pled] guilty. Um and itís not the first time heís, heís had a conviction for hiring a prostitute. Okay it does not appear that the other conviction involved an underage person but it's not the first time. So this is, this is the manís history, um and he is, I am told by, by you know people that I have interviewed so
far who are going to ECMAS meetings at the moment, that he is um you know peoples um, support group meetings there advice oh why donít you talk to [Tim] heís, heís a lawyer he knows about this and im told that he gives out his cards at the meetings and that he charges people money and heís giving them legal advice.
CV:††††† Oh no I wasnít aware of that.
DL:††††† The problem from my perspective, from my perspective is that these guys, usually guys, fathers not always but usually fathers who are coming to these support group, have enough trouble in their lives.† They do not need to be associated with someone like ************* they are not being warned, they are not being rationally informed *** about whether they want him to ****** they are going to ECMAS for help, you know they donít know who to trust and ECMAS is saying oh you know go talk to this guy, heíll help you. Um you know and some people have, have gone as far as to suggest to me that they do not believe that this man, Mr. Adams, is particularly interested in fathers rights at all but that he needs to make a living and that heís just going there so he can make money off of these guys. [As the next hyperlink shows, this version didn't distort what the sole accuser said. But here the reporter says that "people" made this accusation to her--a change that makes her pluralizing even more suspect.]† [Back]
CV:††††† Yeah though is that not illegal to kind of represent yourself as a lawyer when you are not?
DL:††††† Well yeah I think so, you know im sort of thats one of the avenues im sort of looking at with this story and heís giving out a card, thatís a card im told, although im still waiting for someone to photocopy it and send me it, the card im told you know has all his legal credentials on it um which is yeah im still waiting to hear from the Law Society whether your allowed to do that or not.
CV:††††† No, im pretty sure your not, my sisters a lawyer and um, yeah.
DL:††††† Yeah so, you know if he was just someone who is hanging around at ECMAS which has been the case for a number of years
CV:††††† Yeah we had that as well, yep.
DL:††††† you know that might not be so bad, but heís now an official, he is an elected official, he is a spokes person for the group with this unsavoury past and unfortunately that doesnít look very good. So um you know what im looking for is, is, is you know your reaction. Are you concerned about this? Do you think this is bad for the non- custodial parents community? Do you think you know that, that this is a mistake, the election was a mistake? Or you know do you think it's no ones business?
CV:††††† Well, you know, I guess it if that's kind of a tough question to answer in that I myself just found out about this.
DL:††††† Right, right, right. And im sorry to kind of put you in a awkward spot.
CV:††††† Yeah, and ah you know on the surface, um I guess if, in a sense if heís done a crime um been convicted blah, blah, blah um cause he is a non-custodial father as well from what I understand.††††††††††††††††† †††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† JJ00544
CV:††††† And did have some issues as well in thatís why he came to begin with.
CV:††††† Um and the rest of it, I, I think everybody has some kind of baggage um you know and that is the problem with volunteer organizations, you donít know the details of everybodyís story, your only getting what, what they tell you.
CV:††††† So I donít know um you know everybodyís credentials sort of thing. Um you know and nobody within the group does, I guess, um but if he is at present representing himself as a lawyer or giving legal advice, because that was something we were always, myself very open about telling people, you know we're not lawyers this is how we interpret the law, you know this has happened in this case or blah, blah, blah um but that you do need a lawyer or you represent yourself. And you know, educate yourself and, and that was the biggest part of it was you know, hereís the information um you know, do what you can with it.
CV:††††† And that was you know I guess a big part of it is providing information to people.
CV:††††† But, that um that was always I guess kind of a disclaimer because well not a disclaimer but you know to let people know no weíre not lawyers. Cause I would be asked that - are you a lawyer - well no im sure not.
DL:††††† Right, right.
CV:††††† Okay um I think it's really unfortunate that um you know, like ECMAS has worked really hard over the years to get a reputation, a good one, you know that theyíre not a bunch of goof balls out there, um you know trying to make you know positive changes for everybody and, and this is a negative and um
CV:††††† and thatís, you know, I donít know if it needs to be an issue but I guess it is.
CV:††††† You know.† And it will be for some people.† And I, I just know from conversations just in the last two days, thereís um, thereís a third party involved that doesnít like him and um wasnít happy with the results of, of the election at the ECMAS meeting
DL:††††† Okay.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† JJ00545
CV:††††† and seems to be wanting to make um an issue out of this.
CV:††††† You know, and maybe it should be, you know, like I say I donít know, but I, I think thereís somebody there trying to get some personal gain or, or revenge or something.
DL:††††† Okay, okay, so, so do you, when you say maybe it should be your not sure if it should be? Like would you want an organization that you belong to, to have someone with that kind of past have someone in a spokesperson role? I wouldnít.
CV:††††† No, like you say, I didnít know all the details, I you know didnít even know [Tim]ís name until two days ago, you know.
CV:††††† Um, and um yeah well it just it doesnít make it good for everybody and if you know we never you know because to we, we would get people sometimes um with really strange ideas and you know people would come to rne and say well blah, blah, blah they were showing up at the meetings and I said you know you canít prevent them from being a member but if they are a spokesperson,like I was always again careful with that that this, we had goals and objectives and, and the rest of it and that was what we followed, you know we set those out,these are the guiding principles of this organization um thatís what we are here for and you know thatís what your to be following if you want to be part of it sort of thing.
CV:††††† You know.
DL:††††† Right. Okay.
CV:††††† So yeah, it, itís unfortunate and I hope, hope it will be rectified you know without I guess doing a lot of damage to ECMAS and the volunteers that have worked so hard, um to do good work.
CV:††††† You know.
DL:††††† How, how would you envision it being rectified, like you, you knowthe organization, you know the structure is there any way that um, you know like unfortunately, you know this is news, if um, you know if the Red Cross elected someone as a Vice- President who had this kind of background it would be news. Itís news that ECMAS has done it. And you know so the question is what's, you know, when, when, when everyone becomes aware of it whatís going to happen. What do you anticipate could be some of the options?††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† JJ00546
CV:††††† Well, I would think possibly or probably and I think that itís already in the works is
asking [Tim] to step down
CV:††††† I, I think thatís being *[put forward] to him. You know because of the implications of it um you know or at least letting him know that um you this isnít the kind of thing that you can do. You have to be upfront with people. Um my understanding is that he had, had been letting people know, you know that he was disbarred and you know and gave a few of the details of the whole situation
CV:††††† Um, but um you know I suppose somebody new coming in might not be aware of that and, and thatís not a good thing.
CV:††††† But ah you know and I would hope that he would see thatfor the greater good of the organization that, that might be the best option. I donít you know its kinda hard to say cause I donít know him
CV:††††† and I havenít been actively involved um that you know just kind of um from the outside ah you know that may, may help.
DL:††††† Right, right, now one of the things unfortunately is that you know lets now use my example of the Red Cross, is if I found out that the Red Cross had just elected someone like that as their Vice-President, you know, I would say, well this past out on the judgment of the rest of the people in the organization that they let this guy stand for election and that they did not create a fuss about it, that, that suggests to me that their judgment is flawed and unfortunately,† if I think someoneís judgment† is flawed itís much more difficult for them to make a case to me that you know they need more blood or um you know that the implications are broader than oh we just elected the wrong person. Um can you give me anything about the organization which suggests that most of the time they exercise good judgment? Is this something that you would expect to normally happen in ECMAS.
CV:††††† Well, I mean not when I was there. Um you know, its um I guess the biggest difficulty with ECMAS whether Edmonton or Calgary thereís lots of groups out there feeling the same frustration with the system but again you dealing with volunteer people that are in personal for the most part really great personal turmoil
CV:††††† their lives are um many of them are on the verge of bankruptcies because of their divorces um you know emotionally you know weíve had you know some members
that a um well people commit suicide over, over this particular issue, that's a fact.
CV:††††† So um you know if, it is difficult dealing with this issue when their own personal lives are in such upheaval. You know, um you know, I donít think im being very clear in answering you.
DL:††††† Well Iíve sort of just sprung this on you so fair enough, um you know, im sorry to do that and in fairness if you wanted to sort of think about it and you know call me back or send me an email tomorrow for example, when youíve had a little more time to you know kind of you know think of a more coherent response, I think that would be okay. You know and maybe not, maybe you want to get on with your life and not worry about this. But let me leave you my phone number.
DL:††††† Itís 416-383-2374 and my email address, do you have an email?
CV:††††† Yes I do.
DL:††††† Okay so itís just my first initial D for Donna followed immediately by my last name which is
DL:††††† No L-A-F-R-A-M-B-OISE at national post which is one word dot com. So um I have to leave the office in about fifty minutes today but I will be in all day tomorrow.
CV:††††† Oh, okay.
DL:††††† And you could call me collect if you wanted to chat or you know if you have any other thoughts on it and youíve been very generous with your time.
CV:††††† Alright thanks Donna.
DL:††††† Thank you, oh actually let me just get the spelling of your name.
CV:††††† Oh okay. Itís Carolyn - C-A-R-O-L-Y-N
DL:††††† C-A-R-O-L-Y-N okay.
CV:††††† and the last name is Van Ee. Big e little an, big e little e.
DL:††††† Capital e, e. Perfect.
DL: Thank you so much.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† JJ00548
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CV:††††† Alright then.
DL:††††† Have a great day.
END OF INTERVIEW