Speaking up for Family Law Reform

Ms. Pillay claimed to the judge that the reason I was at my house was that I had received an email from her that threatened legal action.

Ms. Pillay informed the judge that it appeared that I was trying to quickly dispose of my asset because of her threatening email to me.

Ms. Pillay lied again. Firstly, unbeknownst to Ms. Pillay, a judge had previously determined that my home could not be declared a marital asset in the child support dispute between my husband and his ex-wife because his name had never been on the deed to the house and he had never had claim to it.  The only way that the house could be declared a marital asset for the purpose of the court case was if I had changed the name on the home at some point.  Because of this ruling, the thought had never occurred to me that Ms. Pillay was threatening to take my home.

If due process had been followed, I would have had the chance to present this pertinent piece of information. This type of speculation is the exact reason defendants in legal cases must be afforded the opportunity to present a defense. 

I believe that Ms. Pillay used this lie to manipulate and elicit an emotional response from the judge and present me as sneaky and perhaps undeserving of an opportunity to defend myself.  She used this attack of my character to justify their failure to follow due process.

"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." - George Orwell

What had been intended as an act of good faith was callously manipulated by Ms. Pillay and used against me in a deceitful maneuver of the law. 

Tilly's Tall Tale

Ms. Pillay initiated court proceedings against me, in my husband’s name.

Diana Whalen - NS Minister of Justice (now retired)

Following this series of events, and as a result of Judge Jollymore’s decision against me, the province placed a lien on my house.

I wrote this document carefully and I was, I believe, professional in my presentation.  The document had been reviewed by a number of people (including lawyers) and I was assured that it was acceptable.

The email I had sent to Diana Whalen was sent as a plea for her help because we had been failed by the system. I sent it only to her, and it was passed on and then used, out of context, by Tilly Pillay. 

Ms. Pillay introduced into evidence the email thread of communication between her and me.

“The only way my husband will be able to settle with Angela Power is if I sell my children’s home (and even that will not equal the amount of money she is demanding).  I am prepared to do this and give my husband’s ex-wife some of the proceeds to settle this fiasco.”

Ms. Pillay used the email address that I had used to reach out to Ms. Whalen as a means to serve documents to my husband, through me.

I engaged the services of an experienced and well-respected lawyer in Halifax, and forwarded him all of the correspondence between Ms. Pillay, Ms. Whalen and me. 


​​My lawyer informed me that the province had used a provision of the Maintenance Enforcement Act, which basically states that they can go after property if they can prove that it was hidden with the intent to avoid child support payment. In this case, the province had ‘certainly stretched’ (his words) that provision. We were confident that this would be thrown out.


​In September, on the 60th Day, my lawyer filed a Notice of Objection on Justice Jollymore’s judgment. 


​Several days after receiving notification that the Objection had been filed, I received an email from my surprised lawyer.  Our request had been denied because it was apparently one day late.


In the legal world (and probably in the real world as well), if a deadline date falls on a weekend, filings are submitted and accepted on the next business day.  In my case, the 60th day fell on a Sunday, and the Notice of Objection was filed the next day, the Monday.

According to my lawyer, this is standard practice and one that he has used many times over the course of his career.  In my case, Justice Jollymore decided that she did not want to follow this standard and rejected my objection thereby removing any chance to defend against the lies told to her by Ms. Pillay.

My lawyer had never experienced a rejection for this reason and had used this standard rule with Justice Jollymore successfully in past cases. The word he used to describe it was ‘ridiculous’. 

  • Inform Ms. Whalen about my family’s side of this story and the effect the legal battle between my husband and his ex-wife had brought forth on the children, and to express my frustration and disgust with the incompetency within the Department that led to an impossible situation. I sent her a 23-page document that told the story from my family’s perspective. My story chronicled how all of the children had been impacted and how this entire experience had destroyed my faith in the Nova Scotia Justice system. 

Justice Elizabeth Jollymore was the Judge who oversaw the hearing.

wanted me to sell my home and give all of the proceeds to Angela Power in order to settle a portion of the settlement.  For me, this would mean that my husband would still owe (in their eyes) an astounding amount of money that could not be paid and it would not solve anything. I had no intentions of giving my hard earned home to my husband’s ex-wife so that she could then (with my funding) continue her ongoing and sanctioned mission of destroying my family. 


By rearranging my words, Ms. Pillay completely changed the meaning of what I had written.  She also made reference to the fact that I appeared to be acting as an agent for my husband, and told me that if they did not receive a significant payment by June 30, she would commence legal action. 

I assumed this was a further threat of legal action against my husband. I was wrong. Her threat was targeted at me.

​I responded to Ms. Pillay with clarification on two of her statements (June 29).  I informed her that I was not acting as an agent for my husband, but rather had reached out in an attempt to remedy the situation, and that I had done it because the house was mine and had been mine before the marriage.  A previous justice had ruled that because my husband’s name had never been on the house, he (or his ex-wife) did not have any claim to it. I also called her out for her blatant manipulation of my initial statement:

Copyright © 2017  FamilyLawReform.com. All rights reserved.

Tilly Pillay - Legal Counsel at the Province of Nova Scotia

A court hearing was held on July 13th to determine whether or not my property could be declared as a marital asset.

Contrary to Ms. Pillay’s claim, I did not fear anything from her email. I was of the understanding (incorrectly) that the threat was directed toward my husband.  Only later would I realize that it had been directed toward me.

“You have a property in Nova Scotia that you are willing to sell to settle "some" of Mr. Power's outstanding arrears”.   

  • Offer to sell my home and share the proceeds with my husband’s ex-wife IF it would suffice as Settlement. My statement regarding this offer was clear and concise, leaving little room for misunderstanding:

FACTS

l​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​"Family court is the place where any hope of minimally civilized human behaviour goes to die."- Christie Blatchford

SITUATION

I was not informed of this court hearing until after it had occurred.  I was not given the opportunity to attend or defend.  I was robbed of my right to due process.

Justice Elizabeth Jollymore agreed with Ms. Pillay and agreed to declare my home a marital asset. She allowed a 60-day period within which we could file a Notice of Objection.

This email was sent in desperation and in good faith. It was, as I saw it, a last ditch attempt to fix the problem.

I was willing to sell my house if it would resolve matters, and give half of the profit, after payment of the mortgage, to my husband’s ex-wife.  I knew that this amount would not equal the amount she was looking for, and stated so clearly, but there was nothing else, and I simply wanted it to end so that she would leave my family alone. This would be a fairly nice chunk of money in the eyes of most people – it was certainly a lot of money in my eyes and the value in my home equaled everything that I had worked hard for over the years. I thought it was at least worth a try. 


I shared with Ms. Whalen some information that we had obtained on my husband’s ex-wife, information that I felt they had a duty to investigate. That story will be told another time, so I will not get into those details here. I also shared with the minister my own thoughts and experiences with the Family Court system as it applied to my husband’s dealings with his ex-wife. As in most things, there were two sides to the story, and although hers has always been louder and often more vulgar, we had a story to tell as well.  To that point, our side had not been heard.  We have kept mostly silent in an attempt to keep the fight clean.


I didn’t have to reach out to the minister.  I didn’t have to offer anything.  I did it because the children were all suffering as a result of this court case, and I wanted an end to it so that everyone could get their lives back.

I wanted someone to wake up to reality and grasp even a shred of common sense. Tilly Pillay would completely blow that dream away, as I would soon discover. 

Diana Whalen forwarded my email address and supporting documents to Tilly Pillay, Counsel for the province. Ms. Pillay wrote to me on June 20, informing me that if I did not respond to her within 72 hours that she would assume that I was not interested in reaching a settlement and threatened legal action.

On June 23 I replied to Ms. Pillay, clarifying my position and instructing her to go back and read what I had actually written, as she seemed to have misunderstood the meaning of my message.

The home I was offering was mine before the marriage, and it had been previously determined by a Supreme Court Justice not to be a marital asset, therefore, I did not give this a second thought. I reiterate my statement to Diana Whalen:

Ms. Pillay told a lie to the judge, and I believe, did so to manipulate the situation and prevent my opportunity to defend myself. 

After years of living through a protracted and contentious court case between my husband and his        ex-wife, I reached out to our Justice Minister, Diana Whalen in an attempt to come to a resolution.  I provided the minister with      evidence that Angela Power had manipulated the system and also that processes were not being correctly followed within her department with the expectation that she would ensure investigation. I also extended an offer as an attempt to resolve the situation. I reached out for the first time during this long and drawn out series of events surrounding my husband’s family court case with his ex-wife.  Up until this point, I had remained mostly silent.

Diana Whalen forwarded my document (which was marked on every page ‘Not for distribution in part, or in whole, without written consent of Tara Power’) to Tilly Pillay.  Ms. Pillay then scheduled a court hearing without informing me, at which she told a series of lies to a judge, resulting in an unlawful lien being place on my home.

The court case had been playing out for several years by this time, yet the time that elapsed between the day I spoke out to Diana Whalen and the day the decision was made against me that allowed this unlawful lien to be placed on my home was a total of six weeks.

The actions taken by the province suggest a vindictive motive and I believe I was made to pay for speaking up.  I feel that the province, rather than acknowledge their errors, attempted to bully me into silence. I reached out to Justice Minister of NS, Diana Whalen (retired), by email on June 2, 2016.  The purpose of the message was to:​

Tilly Pillay responded to my email on June 27, manipulating my earlier statement. She stated: 

MEP discovered that I was at my home, which raises many questions.  Was I under surveillance?  Was my home under surveillance? Was my neighbor charged (by MEP) to spy on me?  The time that elapsed between the day I was ‘spotted’ and the court event was mere days.  Were they watching daily?  Weekly?

I am not under investigation for any crime, have never been investigated for any reason by police, and in fact have never even gotten a speeding ticket in my life. Is it even legal for MEP to have me under surveillance? At the very least, it is creepy and an invasion of my privacy.

Ms. Pillay told the judge that the hearing needed to be heard and decided on very quickly because of my suspicious trip back to Halifax. This was her justification for holding the hearing in my absence.

“We all want to get on with our lives. The only way my husband will be able to settle with Angela Power is if I sell my children’s home (and even that will not equal the amount of money she is demanding).  I am prepared to do this and give my husband’s ex-wife some of the proceeds to settle this fiasco.”

“My home is my only security and I will need to make sure that my children are taken care of”. 

Contrary to Ms. Pillay’s attempt to spin this, this was not suspicious. I had been away from Canada for nearly a year and had returned with my son to visit.  I was at my house a number of times during this visit (and had been there several times before this supposed ‘suspicious’ one).

“Do not twist my words. Again, please carefully read what I wrote to Ms. Whalen, and reiterated to you in my last email.  I was willing to sell my home and give some of the proceeds.  You twisted that statement to mean something entirely different.  I will not be selling my home to settle 'some' of the monies owed.  I have two children and have nothing else.  I will make sure they are protected.  I will NOT be selling my home unless it means this matter can be settled.  Your last email indicates that this is not the case, so it seems we've gotten nowhere.”

Ms. Pillay told the judge that a neighbor had spotted me at my home in early July.

Ms. Pillay stated that because I had been seen at my home, it meant that my fear over her email had resulted in a fast trip back to Halifax from Copenhagen.

The province’s action essentially rendered my asset inaccessible.  Ironically, it has now been reduced to just another expense, as I do not live in the home and do not live in Canada.  I had offered to sell the home in an attempt to remedy the situation and get my husband’s ex-wife out of our lives.  Now, the home is worthless to any of the parties involved, not least of all, my own children. What exactly did that buy the province? Considering that they were claiming to be looking for money, it was certainly a counterintuitive move.

I had, I felt, clearly and concisely stated to Ms. Pillay that I would sell my home and share the proceeds with Angela Power, but only if it would settle the case.  I had no intention of selling my home and giving her any money if this did not mean the matter would not be settled. Tilly Pillay’s  manipulated version of my email  indicated that  she 

Ms. Pillay informed the judge that I had been seen at my home in July.

Justice Jollymore was the Judge who had also heard the Contempt case against my husband and I believe that this was strategic.  In my opinion, this was more than a coincidence and introduced bias into my case.

I arrived in Halifax on June 19th.  I received Ms. Pillay’s threat on June 27th.  I had not had any correspondence with Ms. Pillay until after my arrival in Halifax. I had booked my trip nearly two months earlier and was in Halifax with my son to visit family.  I had planned our trip around my son’s school holidays.

I could have easily proven this, of course, if I’d been given the opportunity.  I have a copy of my airline ticket (link), and I also have dozens of people who could have sworn to the fact that I had been planning my visit for months. 

Ms. Pillay sent me a series of messages on July 18th whereby she notified my husband, through me, in an email, to my email address that had been provided to her by Diana Whalen, that a court date had occurred on July 13th, without our knowledge. 

The court documents show that Tilly Pillay, at the July 13th court event lied to the judge.

Even though the action being taken by the province was against MY property, Ms. Pillay chose to name my husband in the court documents. This added a layer of complexity to my ability to defend the claims and I believe was done intentionally to prevent me from taking direct action.

I have presented my story, and unlike the lies told by Ms. Pillay, I have made every effort to present only provable facts. I encourage you to do your homework and decide for yourself whether or not due process was followed.

As a Canadian citizen, I have always believed in the Canadian justice system with blind faith. Although I had never had any personal experience with the system, I always felt fortunate to live in a country that was founded on fairness and supported justice.

I no longer feel this way. I grew up believing that our justice system was based on distinguishing right from wrong, and on the presentation of facts and evidence. How wrong I was. I felt so lucky to live in a country like Canada. In a million years, it had never occurred to me that someone who didn’t even know me could make up a story about me and that our legal system would support it. I no longer have faith in this system. I am suspicious and mistrustful and in some regard, have lost respect for the country that I had always been so proud to call home.

--Tara Power