In a sharply worded ruling about the pandemic’s effect on society, an Ontario judge has shut down a father’s attempt to force his ex-wife to get their two children unwillingly vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Alex Pazaratz sided with the mother and two children, ordering that she be made the sole-decision maker over whether the children get the shots. 

In his Feb. 22 ruling, Pazaratz lamented the polarization the pandemic has caused in society, and how it has divided people even in close relationships. 

The judge also criticized the father’s tactic of trying to smear the mother’s character over her political views – including his pointing out her membership in the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) – rather than focus on the issues of the lawsuit.  

“When did it become illegal to ask questions? Especially in the courtroom?” wrote Pazaratz.

“And is ‘misinformation’ even a real word? Or has it become a crass, self-serving tool to pre-empt scrutiny and discredit your opponent? To de-legitimize questions and strategically avoid giving answers… Each party always has the onus to prove their case and yet “misinformation has crept into the court lexicon. A childish – but sinister – way of saying ‘You’re so wrong, I don’t even have to explain why you’re wrong.” 

The case in question was protected under a publication ban due to the involvement of minors. The father – known in court documents as J.N. – wanted his children aged 12 and 10 to receive COVID shots against the mother’s wishes. 

In his case, the father “relied on numerous downloads from the mother’s social media accounts” to accuse her of misinformation and being an “anti-vaxxer.” 

“In contrast, the father focussed extensively on labelling and discrediting the mother as a person, in a dismissive attempt to argue that her views aren’t worthy of consideration,” wrote Pazaratz. 

Additionally, the father accused the mother, C.G., of spreading misinformation and being a member of the PPC.

“Have we reached the stage where parental rights are going to be decided based on what political party you belong to?” asked Pazaratz. 

Throughout the court process, the children were independently interviewed once with each parent present. Both of them insisted that they “don’t want to receive the COVID vaccines.” 

Recognizing their views, Pazaratz wrote that “the father is asking me to ignore how they feel and force them to be vaccinated against their will.” 

“Rather than simplistically accept or reject what children say they want, the court must engage in a complex and sensitive analysis of the weight to be attributed to each child’s stated views,” wrote Pazaratz. 

In the end, Pazaratz ruled that the father’s motion was dismissed and that C.G. should “have sole decision-making authority with respect to the issue of administering COVID vaccines for the children.” 

“Her current concerns about the vaccines are entirely understandable, given the credible warnings and commentary provided by reputable sources who are specifically acquainted with the issue,” wrote Pazaratz. 

It remains to be seen what precedent Pazaratz’s decision will set for cases involving COVID vaccination of children with separated parents. Several cases across the country have seen judges ruling against the ex-partner who opposed the vaccine for their children, including a case in New Brunswick where a father temporarily lost custody of his son for being unvaccinated himself.