The province will examine how child custody cases are handled in Ontario courts to ensure the protection of vulnerable children
like Katelynn Sampson, a seven-year-old Toronto girl whose caregiver has been charged in her death, Premier Dalton McGuinty
"We want to see how frequent this occurs, what steps might be taken, do all judges approach this in the same way, those kinds
of things," McGuinty said after touring an aerospace parts manufacturing facility in Mississauga, Ont.
"Obviously what needs to prevail here is the safety of the child."
The circumstances surrounding Katelynn's death have angered many since the girl's battered body was found by police Aug. 2
in her caregiver's apartment, where Katelynn had been staying with her mother's consent.
One officer said the injuries the girl suffered were the worst thing he had seen in 20 years of policing. Screams of anguish
could be heard outside her funeral last week after friends and loved ones saw the grotesque injuries to the child's body.
Opposition parties say Katelynn paid the price for a flawed system which allowed a woman with a criminal record to obtain
custody of the child. While some are calling for tougher legislation, others say the province needs to look more closely at
provincial judges who preside over child custody cases.
NDP justice critic Peter Kormos filed a complaint Friday against Ontario Justice Debra Paulseth, who awarded custody of Katelynn
to Donna Irving.
Irving has been charged with second-degree murder along with her boyfriend, Warren Johnson.
Katelynn had been staying with the couple with her mother's blessing, but court transcripts revealed that few questions were
asked about Irving, who had a criminal record for drugs, prostitution and violence.
Kormos said the case raises troubling questions about Paulseth's conduct that must be investigated.
"The only defence that child had was the law, which is designed to defend her, and the court, who has an obligation to uphold
that law," he said.
"I suggest to you that the judge in this instance failed that child miserably, but also failed in her duty as a judicial officer."
The rules must also be changed before another child slips through the cracks, said Progressive Conservative leader John Tory.
Criminal record checks should be mandatory and a lawyer representing the child should always be present in court, he said.
"I think somebody should be looking into what happened in this particular case," Tory said.
"But what's more important is changing the rules going forward, so you always have a criminal background check, so that you
always have proper representation for the child."
Last week, Attorney General Chris Bentley said work was already underway to review the Children's Law Reform Act and promised
to make any changes necessary to ensure that children were protected.
Kormos wrote to Bentley on Aug. 8, asking him to lodge a complaint about Paulseth with the Judicial Council, which probes
complaints against provincially appointed judges. Bentley refused, saying he has no authority to do so, Kormos said.
But that didn't stop his predecessor, Michael Bryant, from asking the Canadian Judicial Council in 2004 to investigate the
conduct of an Ontario judge who presided over a 1999 murder trial, Kormos countered.
At the time, Bryant acknowledged that attorneys general rarely made such requests, but it was done in the interests of the
"administration of justice."
Paulseth, who practised for 13 years in family courts, was appointed to the bench in 2005, according to government documents.
She had previously served as assistant deputy attorney general for court services, "responsible for all legal, policy and
administrative support to the operation of the court system in Ontario," the ministry release states.