Ontario court considering Quebec order removing kids from Jewish sect

A court in southwestern Ontario is hearing arguments today on whether it should enforce an order from Quebec to remove 14 children from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect.

Members of the Lev Tahor community were under investigation by social services in Quebec late last year for issues including hygiene, children's health and allegations that the children weren't learning according to the provincial curriculum.

Court has heard that most of the community of about 200 people left their homes in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts in the middle of the night while that investigation was ongoing and settled in Chatham, Ont.

Child welfare authorities in Chatham are now asking the court to enforce an order subsequently made in Quebec that would see the children placed in foster care _ an order which is being appealed in Quebec.

But Chris Knowles, a lawyer for the families, says the children's aid society in Chatham has no legal jurisdiction to do that, as he argues their powers are limited to starting a child protection investigation of their own.

The community denies any mistreatment of the children and says they were already planning to move out of Quebec.

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