April, 1998

Meet Ottawa's politically incorrect committee

by CHRIS COBB, Southam NEWSPAPERS, Ottawa

MPs and senators investigating child custody and access issues - with an eye to rewriting the Divorce Act - have heard a large number of pro-father submissions, and fear the system has broken down.
When Liberal MP Roger Gallaway walked into the public washroom at the Royal York Hotel in March, he saw a man, in his mid-30s, slumped and sobbing over a sink. Ten minutes before, in a hotel meeting room, the same man had been pleading the case for fathers to Gallaway and other federal politicians who are travelling the country gathering opinion on child custody and access laws.
"Apparently," says Gallaway, "the Children's Aid Society (CAS) was back at him for the second or third time because his former wife had made another complaint against him. He was very distressed, almost on the verge of collapse and saying "I don't know whether I can go through this again.' I didn't say much. what do you say to somebody in those sorts of situations. You can't say 'I feel for you' because you've never been through it."
For Gallaway, the washroom incident was a low point on a road of sad, bitter and emotionally gutrenching experiences he and his committee colleagues have had while travelling across the country.

"Children are the forgotten element, except when they're being used by one parent to exercise control over another " - Liberal MP Roger Gallaway