By Adrian Crook
My name is Adrian Crook. I'm an independent city council candidate, occasionally known as "Bus Dad" or "5 Kids 1 Condo guy".
A week ago, I launched a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge against the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) in B.C. Supreme Court.
For a year and a half, my family has lived under a ministry decision that stated, “until children are 10 years old, they cannot be unsupervised in the community, at home, or on transit”.
The ministry acted after an anonymous report of my children taking the bus to school on their own. This despite the fact that I'd previously spent two years riding with my kids daily, training them, without incident.
In explaining their decision, the ministry said I was not negligent, and that I had "gone above and beyond what any reasonable parent could be expected to do". Yet the ministry chose to intervene and severely limit my family's charter freedoms, regardless. The ministry ruled out of fear, not fact.
Since September 2017 when I first made the ministry decision public, I have received hundreds of messages of support from fellow parents, and the ministry has received scores of letters from members of the public supporting my side of this case.
On behalf of like-minded parents, supporters of evidence-based policy, and those who believe in the right of kids and parents to be free from baseless state intervention, I am launching this charter challenge. I hope that other parents are undaunted by my ongoing encounter with the MCFD, and choose to make evidence-based parenting decisions they feel are right for their children, rather than fear the ministry, due to what’s happened in my case.
Long before I filed this charter challenge, before I first heard from the Ministry in April 2017, I've fought for evidence-based policy making.
At the municipal level, I cofounded the nonprofit Abundant Housing Vancouver, to advocate for more of the homes we actually need: affordable rental, social housing, co-ops, seniors homes, temporary modular homes, and the like. The data shows that these housing types are what Vancouverites need much more of to stay and thrive in this city.
At the provincial level, I cofounded Abundant Transit BC, a non-profit that advocates for more public transit. Based on clear evidence that transit increases social equity, economic prosperity, and environmental security across BC, it's only logical to support more transit in our region.
Finally, after my case with the ministry first came to light, I learned an important lesson from several people who wrote to me. Of all the children across Canada taken into ministry care, a hugely disproportionate number are Indigenous. Ministry overreach is an epidemic among Indigenous families, with almost 90 percent of children in Manitoba and Saskatchewan ministry care being indigenous (10,000 of 11,000 children).
Yet the marginalized or impoverished among us are almost always denied a platform. For that reason, I have a duty to use my privilege, and the platform it affords me, to advocate for the greater good. Whether it's a charter challenge on behalf of all parents, housing for those who need it most, or public transit advocacy—I fight for issues that need fighting.
This is why I'm running as an Independent candidate for Vancouver city council. As an Independent, I support good ideas, no matter their source. I'm rejecting partisanship or ideological battles that have no place in municipal politics. I can evaluate and author policies based on the evidence.
On October 20, let's elect a group of independent council candidates who will fight for evidence-based policy, push back on needless government interference, and give a platform to those who are denied one.