On February 2003, Bill C-22, An Act Amending the Divorce Act was debated in the Second Reading in the House of Commons, and sent to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In March, the Committee invited the Minister of Justice Martin Cauchon to present the Bill. He faced tough questions from the Canadian Alliance, the Bloc and the NDP on why he had decided to abandon the maximum contact presumption and why he did not retain the mandatory shared parenting option that was lobbied for by the fathers’ rights groups. It was particularly disappointing to see the lack of a gender analysis by the Bloc and the NDP Committee members, who showed much less understanding of the issues than the Status of Women critics in their parties. From the questions raised during that session, it is clear that Bill C-22 will face many criticisms, including from the Liberal ranks.
While the Committee Chair had informed NAWL that the hearings on the Bill would start in May, the Committee has decided to wait until next fall. After consulting different provincial and regional networks in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Québec, NAWL has prepared a template brief on Bill C-22. We have also been consulting different networks of women of colour to discuss the impact of the proposed changes to the best interest of the child test on women from racialized communities, and on First Nations women. The brief should be ready by the end of June and will be posted on NAWL’s Web site. We invite women’s equality-seeking organizations to either endorse NAWL’s brief, or to use it to tailor their own submissions to the Standing Committee.
If you want to make a presentation to the Standing Committee you must write to:
Patrice Martin, Clerk
Standing committee on Justice and Human Rights
House of Commons
180 Wellington St
Canada K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 996-1553
Fax: (613) 992-9069
Andrée Côté est directrice des affaires juridiques de l’ANFD.