August 17, 2002
Robert C. Wittes
Cauchon ignores kids
Re: Divorce Laws To Be Less Adversarial, Aug. 13.
Martin Cauchon, Canada's Justice Minister, earlier this year announced that "he would consult with stakeholders before making up his mind on whether he would introduce amendments [to the Divorce Act]." Now, according to your report, he has decided to reject the concept of "shared parenting" and instead would consider adding the words "parental responsibility" as the sole proposed amendment to the Act. Your report also states that, according to 1998 Statistics Canada figures, mothers are granted sole custody in 60% of cases.
Unfortunately, Ottawa pays no heed to such research. Upon release of the report For the Sake of the Children, the then-minister of justice, Anne McLellan, announced she would postpone any legislative action on the Committee's recommendations for at least three years. In July, 2001, Ms. McLellan announced that her own departmental staff would hold hearings on the issue of joint versus sole custody, and that attendance at some hearings would be limited to women only. As pointed out in your newspaper by a Letter to the Editor on July 26, 2001, from Senator Anne Cools and MP Roger Gallaway of that committee, the minister's actions were improper. Now, Ms. McLellan's successor has taken a position that is contemptuous of the will of the people and the Parliament of Canada.