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The Province

Dad sues gov't for $6.3m in case of 'discrimination'

Father claims B.C. 'negligent' for not putting his surname on his triplets' birth certificates

The Province, Vancouver, BC, Jack Keating, Thursday, October 28, 2004

A father has filed a $6.3-million lawsuit against the B.C. government for "discrimination and or negligence" for not allowing his surname on his triplets' birth certificates.

Despite Darrell Trociuk's victory in the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled he is entitled to be named on the birth certificates of his children Ryan, Andrew and Daniel, his suit says B.C. has acted in "bad faith" by not allowing that to happen.

"I feel that the B.C. government has blocked every attempt I've made to be acknowledged as the father of my children," said Trociuk of Delta.

Trociuk's lawyer, Dairn Shane, said the government "seems to be continuously thwarting him."

"They have not done anything to assist him on getting on the birth registration forms despite the fact the Supreme Court of Canada said it's wrong he's not on there."

The provincial government has spent an estimated $100,000 to help the children's mother, Reni Ernst, keep Trociuk's name off the birth certificates.

Ernst broke off a two-year relationship with Trociuk and moved to Vancouver Island shortly after the triplets were born on Jan. 29, 1996.

She used the term "unacknowledged" for the children's father on the birth registration forms.

She does not dispute that Trociuk is the father and accepts regular child support from him.

Trociuk applied through the Department of Vital Statistics to be added to the forms and to have the surnames of the children altered to a joint surname, Ernst-Trociuk. Statistics rejected the application without explanation.

His claim was rejected by the provincial court and B.C. Supreme Court. In a 2-1 split decision, Trociuk's appeal was dismissed by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

But the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the section of B.C.'s Vital Statistics Act that prevented Trociuk's name from being on the birth certificate was unconstitutional and gave B.C. one year to change it.

Trociuk's suit claims that the amended act does not comply with the Supreme Court ruling.

The triplets are now eight and live with their mom in Nanaimo.

Trociuk's suit says the B.C. government has been "motivated by malice, bad faith, improper purpose, breach of fiduciary duty, discrimination and/or negligence."

It claims the government's actions have caused Trociuk "emotional upset, humiliation, degradation and pain and suffering and have caused him to be separated from his children, both physically and emotionally, and the damage and loss caused by this separation can never be recovered."

The suit seeks $100,000 per child for malice, bad faith, improper purpose, breach of fiduciary duty, discrimination and/or negligence and $1 million per child for aggravated damages for malice, improper purpose, breach of fiduciary duty, discrimination and/or negligence and a further $1 million per child for punitive damages.

"I won in Ottawa 9-0 that this was discrimination," said Trociuk, a 39-year-old landscaper.

"And instead of restoring my human rights and my dignity, they continued to abuse me.

"I proved that they robbed me of my rights and then more than a year later, I'm still sitting here with no rights either.

"I've been raped of my human rights. I have a right to be treated fairly. And that's what the Charter is all about."

The Vancouver Province 2004