Calgary Sun

Tuesday, May 18, 1999

Kids won't wait for Grit help

Divorce Act reform is essential -- but Ottawa sits and dithers

Calgary Sun

Kids don't wait.

They just keep on growing and growing. There's just no stopping them.

You fork out a huge chunk of change to buy the tyke good quality boots and, before they've scuffed the toes, they've grown out of them.

Everyone seems to know this ... everyone, that is, except for the federal government.

How else do we explain the footdragging by federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan for delaying the implementation of reforms to the already much-studied Divorce Act?

After spending two years listening to some 500 witnesses across Canada into the issues of access and custody and after sitting on the 48 recommendations made by the joint Commons-Senate committee looking into the issue for five months, McLellan has decided to do what most politicians do when faced with making controversial decisions -- nothing.

McLellan says she will delay reforming Canada's adversarial Divorce Act until 2002. That's three years.

In the life of an infant that will take them from breaking their first tooth and babbling incoherently to walking, running, scaling the bookshelf, speaking in full sentences, reciting the alphabet and saying the three greatest words any parent could hear -- "I love you."

Three years is an eternity in the life of child.

Three years turns enthusiastic, loving and obedient 10-year-olds into often apathetic, hostile and disobedient teenagers. It turns confused, childish 15-year-olds into self-assured, competent adults.

What McLellan is essentially asking all of the hurting parents who are denied access to their kids to do is to let life -- their kids' lives -- pass them by.

Consider this. Parents, for the most part, try to buy their kids the best boots and shoes they can afford because they want to ensure that their children's little feet are not deformed by ill-fitting footwear.

Similarly, the vast majority of parents try to give their kids the best moral and educational upbringing possible, to ensure that their offsprings' malleable hearts and minds are not deformed as they grow.

Most reasonable people recognize that the best environment for children to grow up in is in a loving home that has both a mother and a father.

If that is not possible as a result of marital breakdown, then the next best scenario is ensuring that both parents remain involved in the child's life as much as possible.

Sadly, something happens to many adults following divorce. They become vicious and vindictive.

Many fathers, often referred to as 'deadbeat dads,' try to stop paying child support while 'vindictive leech moms' try and deny their ex-husbands or the father of their children access to their children.

Unfortunately, the family courts across this country only seem to take 'maintenance' seriously by garnisheeing wages of the 'deadbeat dads.'

Little, if anything, is done to the vindictive leech moms who deny the fathers any access to their children despite court judgements ordering them to do so.

What's more, often these horrible women (and any woman who uses her children as pawns to hurt her ex is horrible) will stand before a court while under oath and lie.

The number of false allegations of sexual abuse made in family courts by these women against their ex-husbands is astonishing.

It's not going to stop either until lying under oath (contempt of court) is taken seriously, and these women are thrown behind bars for doing it.

Of course -- in a country which (rightly) pays David Milgaard $10 million for spending 22 years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit, but makes no mention of prosecuting the people who lied under oath and sent him there -- is it any wonder?

As for the kids who are denied access to their fathers or non-custodial parent -- they won't wait for McLellan to act.

They'll just keep right on growing and growing.

Licia Corbella, editor of the Calgary Sun, can be reached at 403-250-4129 or by e-mail at Her columns appear Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
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Copyright© 1999, Canoe Limited Partnership.