Equal Shared Parenting Family Law Reform In Canada
The House of Commons of Canada
For The Sake Of The Children Marathon Of Hope
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Gilles Duceppe - Leader of the Bloc Quebecois
Jack Layton Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada
Elizabeth May Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson
The House of Commons of Canada in Parliament Assembled
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, Citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to the following:
THAT WHEREAS the Canadian Family Justice System is failing Children and their Families by creating an adversarial atmosphere that is contradictory to the best interests of children. As Canadian Family Court Judge, Justice Harvey Brownstone stated in an interview with CBCs Susan Ormiston, My position is that the Family Court is the last place that parents in conflict should be going to, to convert themselves from ex-partners, to co-parents. That is what they need to do, and it doesn't happen in a courtroom, because a courtroom sets parents up to wage war, not peace, and for the sake of their children, their children need their parents to be at peace."
WHEREAS the Canadian Government is failing Children by refusing to fulfill its legal obligation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada signed on May 28th, 1990 and consented to on December 13th, 1991. As it stands today, Canada is failing its children in regards to its Family Law practices, on 19 specific articles from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
WHEREAS the Canadian Government is failing Children by refusing to reform the Family Law system in Canada, by continually ignoring repeated proposed legislation calling for Family Law reform in this country; such as the reccomendations put forth in the 1998 report by the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access entitled, For The Sake Of The Children, as well as the Honourable Jay Hills Private Members Bill, Bill C-245, that was introduced before Parliament in October of 2002.
Upon introducing Bill C-245 before the House Of Commons, Mr. Hill stated, "Shared parenting should not be awarded only under special circumstances, but it should be granted under all circumstances, except in cases of proof of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or if it is not in the best interests of the child. Child custody remains an important issue to many Canadians. This bill aims to force change in an area the government continues to ignore."
WHEREAS the Federal Government of Canada is now being given another opportunity to finally put Childrens best interests forward with the introduction of an Equal Shared Parenting Private Members Bill, Bill C-422, that was introduced before Parliament on June 16th, 2009, by M.P. Maurice Vellacott of Saskatoon. Bill C-422 would reform the Divorce Act, and make Equal Shared Parenting the normative determination by courts dealing with situations of divorce involving children.
Upon introducing Bill C-422 before parliament, Mr. Vellacott stated, Unfortunately many Canadian Families experience the break up of a marriage, and when this happens the results can be devastating to children. Children are caught in the middle, but should not be used as a weapon, or alienated from one of the parents. Aside from proven abuse or neglect, Canadians want Equal Shared Parenting to be the presumption in our courts when marriages break up, because it is in the best interests of children, and because it is part of an enlightened equality agenda.
WHEREAS Bill C-422 is very important in bringing Canadian legislation in line with what the best research says about the best interests of children. In his December 2008 reasearch paper, CHILD CUSTODY, ACCESS & PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: The Search For A Just And Equitable Standard, Professor Edward Kruk of The University of British Columbia states, Children of divorce want equal time with their parents and consider shared parenting to be in their best interests. Seventy per cent of children of divorce believe that equal amounts of time with each parent is the best living arrangement for children, and children who have had equal time arrangements have the best relations with each of their parents after divorce.
WHEREAS the vast majority of the Canadian public, 78 percent, supports Equal Shared Parenting legislation, with a high of 86 percent in the province of Quebec, and among supporters of major Political Parties in Canada, Equal Shared Parenting is supported by 78 percent of Conservatives, 78.5 percent of NDPs, 80.6 percent of Liberals and 83 percent of Bloc Quebecois.
WHEREAS the Conservative Partys own Policy Declaration states in section K, under the title SOCIAL POLICY, #69, The Conservative Party believes that in the event of a marital breakdown, the Divorce Act should grant joint custody, unless it is clearly demonstrated not to be in the best interests of the child. Both parents and all grandparents should be allowed to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children and Grandchildren, unless it is demonstrated not to be in the best interest of the child.
WHEREAS Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has written, These groups demanded that the custody and access regime created by the Divorce Act of 1985 be replaced with a shared parenting regime in which both parents are given equal rights to bring up their children. These are sensible and overdue suggestions, and the fact they are being made shows that men and women are struggling to correct the rights revolution, so that equality works for everyone.
THEREFORE, your petitioners request that the Canadian Government stop failing the children of this country, and that the House of Commons in Parliament assembled revise the Divorce Act and pass Private Members Bill C-422, to ensure that the best interests of children are put forth in our courts, by making Equal Shared Parenting the normative determination in dealing with situations of divorce involving children. We also request that adequate judicial training and accountability be implemented to ensure compliance with the legislation and the will of Parliament.