It’s been fifteen years since a joint House of Commons/Canadian Senate report titled “For the Sake of the Children” recommended that shared parenting be introduced into Canada’s Divorce Act, a move spearheaded by Senators Anne Cools and Roger Galloway.
The report, however, languished and then disappeared into oblivion. But the sentiment that children deserve and need both parents in their lives, and in most cases, their grandparents, continued to flourish, gaining support from social science researchers, therapists, journalists, and family law lawyers, among many others.
This week Maurice Vellacott, Conservative MP for Saskatoon, introduced Bill C-560, An Act to Amend the Divorce Act in respect of equal parenting.
Vellacott said in the House of Commons: “Mr. Speaker, I am quite honoured in these few moments to be introducing a private member’s bill which would direct the courts in regard to divorce to make equal shared parenting the presumptive arrangement in the best interest of the child except in proven cases of abuse or neglect.
Fifteen years ago, a joint House-Senate committee presented to Parliament a report entitled: “For the Sake of the Children”. That report urged Parliament to amend the Divorce Act to make equal shared parenting the normative determination by courts dealing with situations of divorce involving children.
This non-partisan recommendation from that joint House-Senate report was based on compelling research made available to the committee members. Over the past 15 years, the best research has continued to demonstrate far superior outcomes for children in general when both parents, mom and dad, are actively involved in their children’s lives even if the parents divorce or separate.
Polling from the past several years demonstrates overwhelming support from Canadians for this equal shared parenting. There is in fact slightly more support among women than men for equal parenting. This strong support from almost 80% of Canadians exists across the country with the strongest regional support coming from Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Canadians claiming to be Liberal and Bloc supporters expressed the strongest endorsement for equal shared parenting at 80.6% among Liberals and 82.9% among Bloc Québécois supporters, with the NDP and Conservatives just slightly under 80%.
A variety of countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Australia and various U.S. states have implemented equal parenting, joint custody, or shared parenting presumptive legislation which has resulted in lower court costs, less conflict and improved social outcomes for the children of divorce.
This bill is one of the most apolitical non-partisan pieces of legislation introduced in this current Parliament.
I look forward to strong support for this important piece of legislation from all members of Parliament who are committed to the best interest of our children.”
As a proponent of shared parenting, except in cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment, which I say ought to be liberally interpreted, I have recently been invited to join “Leading Women For Shared Parenting” a group that counts as members prominent lawyers, child advocates and activists, journalists, politicians and psychologists from the United States and Canada.
If you also believe that children need both a father and a mother in their lives, I urge you to contact your Member of Parliament and tell him or her to support Bill C-560 and check out the “Leading Women for Shared Parenting” website at lw4sp.org.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang