WINNIPEG – An alleged racist embroiled in a Manitoba custody battle says teaching his kids that races should be separated isn’t hateful or wrong.
The man told a court hearing Tuesday that the racial slurs he routinely used around his two children is just “slang.” Although he acknowledged teaching his stepdaughter that people of different races should go back to their own country, he said he wouldn’t do that again if he regained custody.
“It’s caused too much trouble already,” he said under cross-examination from the province’s lawyer. “She can make up her own mind.”
The man is trying to prevent Manitoba Child and Family Services from gaining permanent custody of his stepdaughter and his biological son, saying his constitutional rights have been violated.
Family service workers seized the children last year after the girl went to school with racist markings drawn on her body. The agency alleges they were exposed to violence, racism and alcohol abuse in the home.
One social worker has testified the girl calmly described how to kill black people using a ball and chain in an interview at her school. But her stepfather said that interview was “doctored” by the social worker. Although he agreed parts of the interview were accurate, he said others were “fixed up.”
“I don’t trust CFS. I don’t trust any of their reports,” said the soft-spoken man, adding he can’t believe his stepdaughter would have detailed how to kill a black person.
“That’s not how she was raised. I was in shock the first time I heard it.”
When the girl told the social worker that “black people don’t belong,” the man said she was probably “prodded a little bit.” Under intense questioning from the agency’s lawyer, the man said he didn’t have any evidence that the social worker – who had never met the family – fabricated her report.
“I’ve seen them switch my words around, too,” he said.
The man conceded that his stepdaughter would have learned some racist slurs from him, but said they were harmless.
“I taught my daughter that we’re different. I taught her everyone should be in their own country,” he said. “I don’t think that’s racist.”
The man also admitted he had given a Nazi salute at times but said it was an empty gesture.
“It’s not important to me,” he told the court.
The man testified Monday that he made racist jokes, has been a racist skinhead and doesn’t believe in “interracial breeding.” But he said he never taught his kids that minorities should be killed.
The man, who suffers from learning disabilities and dyslexia, admitted he had a “tough” childhood being bullied at school and was even set on fire by classmates.
He started dabbling in alcohol and drugs when he was just 12. He lived on the street for several years, using heroin and other hard drugs. Within the last year, the man said he has drunk beer while driving.
Although the man said he went into methadone rehab to physically wean him off heroin, he said he’s never sought counselling for his drug use, alcohol abuse or any psychological problems.
“Why would I need help?” he said. “There was no reason to get help.”
His estranged wife, and mother of the children, is not attending the hearing after being arrested for credit card fraud. The woman gave some testimony last week but was never cross-examined. She told the court she had to return to her out-of-province home as a condition of her bail.
In her testimony, the woman asked the court to keep her children in foster care. She said her estranged husband isn’t fit to be a parent because he drinks too much, uses drugs and is suicidal.
She said she raised the children to have “white pride” but never advocated racism.