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dimanche 5 juin 2005

Declaration on Religious Arbitration in Family Law

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The provincial government is expected to respond very soon to the report prepared for Premier McGuinty by Marion Boyd on the issue of the use of religious law in the private arbitration of family law disputes.

Active endorsement of Boyd’s recommendations will have enormous and serious consequences for women. It is imperative that we speak out in opposition to this report, which is no way reflects the equality rights provisions contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or in international covenants to which Canada is a signatory.

Following is a statement prepared by a broad coalition of organizations to respond to Boyd’s report.

METRAC joins other organizations in our opposition to the use of any religious laws in family matters using the Arbitration Act in Ontario.

We are shocked by the possibility of the erosion of equality rights as guaranteed in Sections 15 and 28 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We share a common position that the recommendations advanced in the report prepared for the Ontario government by Marion Boyd sanction the erosion of women’s equality rights under the laws of Ontario. We believe that the Arbitration Act was not designed to accommodate family matters but was conceived of as a vehicle for commercial disputes. Stretched to this purpose, even with Ms. Boyd’s "safeguards", it would effectively put at risk decades of legal reform in keeping with an equality and equal rights framework.

Our diverse organizations share one purpose with respect to :

* Exclusive use of family law legislation for the resolution of family disputes regardless of faith, ethnicity and culture

* No religious arbitration and/or any principles, which would undermine the equality guarantees of the Charter in the resolution of family matters

We are supported by an international coalition of groups watching closely the Ontario government’s decision in relation to Boyd’s report. Their concern for the potential erosion of women’s rights within constitutional democracies based on religious justifications is in keeping with the provisions of the Canadian Charter, and with international agreements (i.e. the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to which Canada is a signatory. We demand that the Government of Ontario both understand the intent of these agreements and ensure that domestic laws and regulations are not in contravention of them.

Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS)/Association canadienne des sociétés Elizabeth Fry (ACSEF)
Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW)/la Fédération canadienne des femmes diplômées des universités (FCFDU)
Canadian Labour Congress/Congrès du travail du Canada
Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)/Institut canadien de recherches sur les femmes (ICREF)
Centre D’Main de Femmes
Centre Victoria pour femmes (Sudbury)
Education Wife Assault
Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ)
Fédération nationale des femmes canadiennes françaises
Interlude House/Maison Interlude
Interval House of Ottawa
La Marg’elle de St-Rémi
La Table féministe francophone de concertation provinciale de l’Ontario
L’Association canadienne des centres contre les agressions à caractère sexuel (ACCCACS)/Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers (CASAC)
L’Association des femmes immigrantes de l’Outaouais
L’Association pour les droits de la femme et le développement (AWID)/Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
Le Centre "Au Coeur des Femmes"
Le Centre "Entre-Femmes"
Le Réseau socio-acion des femmes francophones
L’équipe de La Passerelle
L’R des centres de femmes du Québec
MATCH International Centre/Centre International MATCH
Métis National Council of Women/Conseil national des femmes métisses
Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC)
Mouvement contre le viol et l’inceste
Mouvement ontarien des femmes immigrantes francophones (MOFIF)
Multicultural Women’s Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador
National Association of Women and the Law/Association nationale femmes et droit (ANFD)
National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC)/Conseil national des femmes du Canada
National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada (NOIVMWC)/Organisation nationale des femmes immigrantes et des femmes appartenant à une minorité visible du Canada (ONFIFMVC)
Nelson House of Ottawa Carleton
Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre
Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)
Ontario Council/la Fédération canadienne des femmes diplômées des universités (FCFDU)
Ontario Federation of Labour
Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre
Pictou County Women’s Centre
Provincial Council of Women of Ontario/Le conseil provincial des femmes de l’Ontario
Provincial Council of Women of Québec/Le Conseil provincial des femmes du Québec
Réseau socio-action des femmes francophones de l’Est ontarien
Rights and Democracy/Droits et démocratie
Transition House (Thunder Bay)
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)/Fonds d’action et d’éducation juridiques pour les femmes (FAEJ)
YWCA Canada
YWCA of Toronto/YWCA de Toronto

***It is very important that the provincial government hear the voices of those who oppose Boyd’s recommendations. Please take the time to :

    Add your organization’s name to the list of those endorsing this statement by emailing the National Association of Women and the Law at bonnie@nawl.ca.
    Write to Premier Dalton McGuinty, Attorney General Michael Bryant, Minister Responsible for Women’s Affairs Sandra Pupatello and your local M.P.P. to share your concerns. Feel free to quote from this statement or from METRAC’s materials available on the OWJN website.

Share this statement with others in your community and urge them to endorse it and take action.

 Read Boyd’s report in full.
 Read METRAC’s analysis of the report.

June 1, 2005

Online on Sisyphe, June 5, 2005

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