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Liberals assail minister's lawmaking (National Post)

National Post
July 26, 2001
Robert Fife

Liberals assail minister's lawmaking: McLellan accused of undemocratic tactics with child custody bill


OTTAWA - Two outspoken members of the federal Liberal caucus yesterday accused Anne McLellan, the Justice Minister, of undermining Canada's democratic process by turning the lawmaking process over to unelected civil servants.

In a strongly written letter to the National Post, Roger Gallaway, a Southern Ontario Liberal MP, and Anne Cools, an Ontario Senator, accuse the Minister of running a closed-door job and ignoring Parliament in preparing new legislation surrounding child custody, access and divorce.

Mr. Gallaway, who co-chaired a joint Senate-Commons committee on the issue two years ago, had complained the government consultations completed last month were "an affront to Parliament" because MPs were excluded.

He characterized the Justice department hearings as a deliberate attempt by the bureaucracy to circumvent his committee's report, which recommended giving separated and divorced parents an equal say in the raising of their children under a new concept called shared parenting.

Ms. McLellan and Virginia McRae, a Justice department lawyer, who co-chaired the $1.5-million hearings, denied Parliament was being cut out of the process.