Prince George Citizen

Thursday, March 23, 2000

Suicide sparks courthouse demonstration

by BERNICE TRICK, Citizen staff
Prince George Citizen

Darrin White, the Prince George man who killed himself last week, was remembered Wednesday at a march at the Prince George courthouse. More than 25 members of the Parent Child Advocacy Coalition carried signs highlighting how badly White, and others before him, have been treated by the family-law industry.

"We're here mainly for Darrin White," said Randy Turgeon, spokesman for PCAC. "We want to recognize Darrin White and every other parent who's been injustly treated."

The PCAC believes a recent court order for support payments to his ex-wife and three children amounting to $2,071 a month caused Darrin to take his life.

That was in addition to $439 a month support he was obliged to pay for an older child.

White, a B.C. Rail locomotive engineer, was on disability stress leave at the time, which paid him $950 a month, after taxes.

"Darrin found another way out," said Turgeon, who said he was a close friend to Darrin. "I feel sad that he had to go to extreme measures to express his disillusion of a system that treats parents with inequality when it comes to parenting."

Peter Ostrowski, an advocate for PCAC, claims "a grotesque policy failure of governments is causing parents to kill themselves" and that fact is being ignored by both the provincial and federal governments.

"The bottom line is Darrin was ordered out into the street," Ostrowski said. "He was left with a negative income and nowhere to live."

The PCAC is calling for a public inquiry into Darrin's death.

The White family won the right Wednesday to take his body home.

Darrin's father, Les, and brother-in law, Murray Empey, both in Prince George from Brandon, Man., were preparing to go to court Wednesday when Darren's ex-spouse agreed to release the body to the family.

"We're pretty excited," Darrin's brother Lyle told the Brandon Sun.

"I think it really came down to the wire today," Lyle said.