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Landmark Case: The Parental Rights Case – Trociuk v. British Columbia (Attorney General)

Each OJEN Landmark Case includes a case summary, classroom discussion questions and worksheets that encourage students to explore both the legal and societal importance of the case.

Darrell Trociuk and Reni Ernst were an estranged couple who had triplets on January 29, 1996. Shortly after the triplets were born, Ms. Ernst filled out the birth registration forms on her own, listing the father of the children as “unacknowledged by the mother.” Mr. Trociuk applied to have his identity included on the children’s birth registration forms and to change the children’s surnames. However, ss. 3(1)(b) and 4(1)(a) of the Vital Statistics Act of British Columbia prevented fathers from amending registrations. Mr. Trociuk applied to have the legislation struck down as violating his right to equality under s. 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The majority of the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of Mr. Tociuk, holding that the provision violated the equality guarantee of the Charter and could not be saved under s. 1.  The full decision is available here.

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