Bill 2: Will family law reform be abandoned?

QUÉBEC – PUBLISHED SUNDAY, APRIL 10

People who refuse to fit into the gendered, non-binary, or transgender mold, who seek official recognition of their sexual identity, and infertile couples who are tempted to use the services of a surrogate mother are among those people , who are likely to be very disappointed in the coming months of the Legault administration.

The challenge: the family law reform that has been awaited and promised by the government for years and that is still in the waiting room a few months before the election date.

Everything indicates that the sweeping reform orchestrated by Attorney General Simon Jolin-Barrette with his Bill 2 is in all likelihood destined to die on the order paper by the end of this mandate.

That, at least, is the unanimous observation of the three opposition parties in interviews with The Canadian Press over the past few days, who have unanimously blamed Minister Jolin-Barrette for his “erratic” way of managing parliamentary affairs.

A simple glance at Parliament’s session calendar, which ends on June 10, leads the three opposition parties to say that adopting such a comprehensive reform in such a short time is virtually impossible.

Bill 2, which will amend the Civil Code, aims to update family law, which has been frozen in time since the early 1980s while mores have evolved since then.

A new legal framework that casts a very wide net on several sensitive social issues. The document extends over 116 pages and contains no fewer than 360 articles. Typically, a bill of this magnitude can require months of committee work. However, the clause-by-clause review has not yet started and is not yet on the schedule.

Factoring in the days cut off for the upcoming study of portfolio allocations and the weeks of parliamentary recess, the minister would have about four weeks at best to pass his reform. It is too little, too late, according to the elected officials consulted.

“The magnitude of the social impact of this draft law is so great that we cannot study it properly in four weeks, even if it is quick,” calculates Gaétan Barrette, spokesman for the liberal official opposition on justice issues.

It’s downright “impossible to get there by the end of the session,” adds PQ spokeswoman, MNA Véronique Hivon, expressing her “utter frustration” at the way Minister Jolin-Barrette, who is also the Chair, was doing of the House of Representatives, does not conceal the file.

“If he can’t because he’s overwhelmed, let’s change ministers!” By the end of the legislature, let him pass the puck to someone else,” suggests supporting MP Alexandre Leduc, who is convinced the minister has already mourned this reform in favor of the new language development included in Bill 96, as he is also responsible for the French language. “I suppose he gave up,” he said, but “didn’t have the guts” to announce it. Bill 96 is still under review.

In the ranks of the opposition, he is accused of having put two major reform projects (language and family law) on the table, each with a hundred articles, by the end of his term in office and thus practically taking on the duty of sacrificing one.

If the minister is ever tempted under the given circumstances to push through his reform at full steam and at any price, the three opposition parties are warning him: it will not go through.

“That would really be the height of arrogance,” said Mr Barrette, who would judge such a gesture by the government as “intellectually dishonest”.

“It is not true that we will get through this before the end of June, and it is not true that we will decide to stop asking questions and not doing our work,” especially given the importance and the large number of those involved social problems, adds Mr. Leduc.

To be sure, the hon.

None of the three elected officials expressed surprise, considering that the fate of Bill 2 reflected the general organization of parliamentary work under Mr Jolin-Barrette’s leadership. Véronique Hivon speaks of “erratic management”. Alexandre Leduc believes he “doesn’t have much regard for his opposition colleagues, quite the opposite”.

Bill 2 was tabled on October 21, a gesture followed by a brief consultation sent out within four days, early December. Then nothing.

Officially, Minister Jolin-Barrette, who has not responded to a request for an interview on the matter, claims that he still aims to have his reform passed by the end of this legislature.

The liberal opposition tried to offer to split up the voluminous law and pass at least part of it by June, but the government declined.

The Attorney General had no choice but to legislate on the specific issue of gender, complying with Judge Gregory Moore’s Supreme Court ruling of January 28, 2021, invalidating several articles of the Civil Code that were discriminatory.

According to this decision, Quebec had to take steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination related to the designation of sex in the documents issued by the registry office. We should no longer force anyone to identify themselves as male or female. It was also necessary to add the possibility of registering the indication of the parent instead of the father or mother when drawing up a child’s birth certificate.

“Get out of my underpants!” »

Bill 2 caused an outcry when it was submitted. With the slogan “Get out of my underpants!” The LGBTQ+ community has accused the minister of “transphobia” because he originally intended that someone who wants to legally change their gender would first have to go through a knife.

Those who would have declined surgery may have acquired gender-gender dual identity, such as appearing as male but female.

However, some saw this as a step backwards as this requirement was officially scrapped in 2013.

Faced with outcry from the community who saw this as a “forced coming out”, the minister relented and promised to table amendments aimed at removing the requirement for genital surgery to change gender designation in official documents. But it is not finished yet.

Last year, 659 gender reassignment applications were approved in Quebec. The number is steadily increasing.

In addition to issues of gender and procreative care for others, Bill 2 intervenes on a variety of other issues, including the number of first names on official documents, the rules of descent including the presumption of paternity for de facto spouses, information disclosure of adopted children, the rights of the child born in a growing up in a violent home, issues of parental authority in the event of violence and loss of that authority, and the rights of a child born to a surrogate mother with knowledge of its origins.

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