April 30, 2002
Ottawa stalls on alterations to Divorce Act, wants more study
Ottawa - Three years of consultation on proposed changes to the Divorce Act - changes born out of year long cross-Canada study -- have not been enough to permit the government to act, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said Monday.
Proponents of change were dumbfounded.
Liberal Senator Anne Cools said the government has been stalling ever since a Senate-Commons committee wrapped up a year of hearings in late 1998 and made 48 recommendations to overhaul the Divorce Act. The key provisions dropped child custody and access as starting points in favour of shared custody.
After giving all but two of the proposals a favourable review, then justice minister Anne McLellan announced three years of consultations, to be wrapped up by May 2002.
Cools called Cauchon's latest delay "staggering, astonishing and unacceptable."
"The about-face on this question is as great as an about-face that was taken on the GST - except worse because this is about babies and children."
She also said the overwhelming message to the Senate-Commons committee was that child support programs were not working, although she had not seen Monday's assessment.