Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be introducing a Private Member’s Bill today which would direct courts in regard to divorce, to make equal shared parenting the presumptive arrangement in the best interests of the child, except in proven cases of abuse or neglect.
Over 10 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 was based on compelling research made available to the committee members. Over the past ten years, the best research has continued to demonstrate the 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 two years demonstrates overwhelming support from Canadians for 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 Quebecois supporters. 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 lowered court costs, less conflict and improved social outcomes for the children of divorce.This bill is one of the most a-political, 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 interests of our Canadian children.
I suggest we send Mr. Vellacott a congratulatory email. As well perhaps Mr. Rob Nicholson, Justice Minister, for endorsing the bill and asking that the government endorse it. Here is his email.