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Monday, May 17, 1999Letters
Studied to death
Anne McClellan, the Justice Minister, recently stood in the House of Commons and heaped praise on proposed changes to the divorce act. These include more joint custody, a less adversarial divorce process, and more money in the pockets of divorced parents. In short, the process would be more child-centred and based on mediation.
She then backed away from these proposals by allowing there to be three years of public consultation. In other words she "Meeched" it. As with the ill-fated Meech Lake Accord, several years of "public discussion" will kill the momentum for change. When a minister of the Crown defers an issue until beyond the next election, that effectively buries it with full ceremonial honours.
Ms. McClellan claims there is need for further study and consultation on issues that have been studied to death. These proposals were born of a joint committee of the House and Senate that travelled the country taking testimony. She blithely ignores that there is a well-established and growing body of social research that legitimizes these long overdue changes.
In the aftermath of two appalling incidents of school violence she is deferring important social legislation that would bring greater support and resources to the children of divorce and in turn addressing, in part, the issue of growing child poverty in this country.
The justice minister is clearly playing politics with pressing and urgent social legislation. In view of this, her resignation should be tendered forthwith.
Robert Billyard, Langley, B.C.
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