National Post

July 24, 2001

Alarmed

Letter to the editor from Peter Ostrowski
National Post

I read with alarm the letter from Anne McLellan, the Minister of Justice in the July 20th issue of the National Post (The Minister is in Charge). I contributed to Department of Justice hearings on revisions to the Divorce Act in Prince George and the antecedent hearings in Vancouver in 1998. As well, I was active in her predecessors' ( Allan Rock) riding in High Park when he performed the latest revision to the Divorce Act in 1996. I can only assume the Minister does not have full information of which she speaks.

The last revision to the Divorce Act was carried out without broad-based public consultation and there was no attempt at consensus building. A recent workshop I attended was restricted to three issues set by the Minister. Of the attendees, most were paid by provincial or federal organizations. The three of us who were not on a government payroll or expense account had no reasonable chance of being heard.

When I questioned the department's definition of a "family" or who interpreted the "best interests of the child," I was ruled out of order.

The Minister may have forgotten what she learned in law school. The fundamental basis of a democracy is to represent your constituents and to build consensus, not division. The parents normally know what is best for their children, not a civil servant. It should not be the Minister's position to intervene between former spouses. With the recent disintegration of any opposition to the Minister's political livelihood, of course, she can speak with arrogance against those that oppose her in the free press.

Peter Ostrowski, Prince George, B.C.

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