© Eric Sparling – Amherst Daily News
Church Street was the scene of a protest by the Grandparents Rights for Nova Scotia Association. They gathered outside the office of Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar, who was not in the office at the time.
AMHERST – Grandparents should have the right to see their grandchildren, and vice-versa. That’s the message Pauline Glenn has vowed to spread across Nova Scotia this summer.
The Grandparents Rights for Nova Scotia Association were picketing outside the Amherst office of Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar last week. The office was closed as the MLA was out of town.
“We’re asking for access to our grandchildren,” said Glenn, one of three founders of the 12-year-old organization.
Under current rules, according to Glenn, grandparents need to work through the legal system to see grandchildren if parents deny access.
“We can go to court,” she said. But she also said she’s never heard of someone being successful.
Four bills promoting the cause have been introduced into the provincial legislature, according to Glenn, but all have been quashed.
The co-founder acknowledged not all grandparents are fit to have access to children, but she wants a basic right established, and for exceptions to be addressed after that.
“We want to get our foot in the door,” she said. All grandparents shouldn’t be judged by the bad actions of a few.
Glenn used the word “abuse” to describe preventing a grandparent-grandchild relationship.
She said her suspicion is that legislation supporting her cause hasn’t been passed because it would take away income for lawyers.
“It’s an old boys club,” she said.
She’s hoping the protest – and others like it leading up to the provincial election – makes the public aware of how tenuous she thinks a grandparents relationship with her grandchild can be under current guidelines.
“Keep your purse open and never say ‘no’,” she said, presumably referencing the danger of falling afoul of a vindictive parent.
Tracy Bernard was crossing the street with her teenaged daughter, Chelsea MacIntyre.
“They have a right,” said MacIntyre. She said the elderly grandparents want to spend as much time with their grandkids as possible with the time they have remaining.
Bernard also supported the protesters’ cause.
“Oh, I agree 100 per cent,” she said.
“I believe that they should have rights.”