Social activist Jason Devine was beaten in a Calgary home invasion early Monday while his wife Bonnie called 911. Provincial officials now question whether their home is safe for their children. ((CBC))

Jason Devine battles the Alberta government to get his children returned home, just two days after he was beaten by what he calls white supremacists in his Calgary home.

Five masked men with bats and hammers invaded the anti-racism activist's home in the 5400 block of Eighth Avenue S.E. shortly after 1 a.m. on Monday.

They attacked Devine and a friend while his wife, Bonnie, called 911, police said.

Investigators think the home was targeted, but they have not confirmed a motive. A neo-Nazi angle is being considered, officials said.

Since the attack, the Devines' four children have been staying with Bonnie's mother, Lori.

Jason said officials with Alberta Children and Youth Services told the grandmother not to allow the parents to retrieve the children, because their activism is creating an unsafe environment.

"We're doing things that are legal and you're blaming us, saying that we invited these attacks on ourselves," said the activist, whose back was badly hurt in the attack. His friend suffered a broken arm. "And that's not true at all.

"Most people can clearly see that it's blaming the victim."

Lori Devine confirmed a provincial social worker visited her house.

"They basically said that if Bonnie and Jason come to get the kids I should phone them right away and they will stop them," she said.

Alberta Children and Youth Services spokesman John Tuckwell defended the province's intervention.


Jason Devine suffered severe back injuries in the attack. ((CBC))

"The point of criminal activity is irrelevant," he said. "The point is, simply, is a child at risk? And that can be from any number of factors."

But Calgary police said the Devines have broken no laws, and there is no clear reason why their children shouldn't live with them.

Jason, who has ties to the group Anti-Racist Action Calgary, has published pictures of suspected white supremacists on his blog. More recently, he and Bonnie posted pictures in their neighbourhood "outing" people they claim are neo-Nazis.

Bonnie was a candidate for mayor in Calgary's municipal election last month.

According to Linda McKay-Panos, executive director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, no one should be punished for being outspoken.

"I wouldn't like to think that I would be considered as exposing my child to danger, and so that social services is going to check me over, because I happen to have some unpopular opinions," she said. "This is a democracy."

Calgary civil liberties lawyer Janet Keeping agreed that the case is troubling.

"It cannot be that people have to choose between standing up for values like anti-racism and having children," she said.