Longfield Comments
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Comments from Joint Committee member Judi Longfield, MP

Following are comments from a meeting with Judi Longfield MP ( Lib - Whitby - Ajax  , Ontario ), one of the Joint Committee members. Judi spoke with attendees at an Equal Parents of Durham meeting. Durham is just east of metro Toronto.
Judi seems knowledgeable of the problems in this area of society, and sounds sincerely committed to doing what she can personally to bring about change as quickly as possible....
Comments in no particular order, though a couple of good ones in my view are at the top...
My recommendations are enclosed.

COMMENTS

Judi says Anne McLellan has 'read the JC Report, indicated she likes it,  believes it's going in the right direction, and action will probably be taken'.......In Judi's opinion, she expects it will be 5 - 6 months before some proposed changes may surface from the Justice Department.


NOTE 1
Apparently all Liberal members of the JC are expected to meet with McLellan on Feb 2 or 3 to discuss where the Report is heading.  She ( Judi ) will have a much better sense of the priority of the Report within the Justice Department at that time.
 
RECOMMENDATION 1
If you haven't already done it, write JC members and thank them for their efforts......
a) for liberal members..... urge them to push McLellan at the Feb meeting to move quickly with action.
b) for reform and conservative members.... encourage them to push Anne McLellan in the House during question period to act quickly on the Report's recommendations.
 
NOTE 2
Judi recognizes clearly that the 2 -tiered, federal / provincial structure of laws and services addressing separation and divorce....where separation is a provincial matter....and divorce federal........ As such, Judi has on a local basis ( Durham region only ), arranged for copies of the JC Report to be sent to local Judges to introduce them to the recommendations of the Report. Judi is following up and encouraging them to read the Report and consider future decisions they make within the context of the Report's findings.

Judi indicated a # of judges had thanked her for the direction of the JC Report, that a # are now looking at requiring parenting plans as part of separation orders. Judi is also sending cc's to all lawyers in the same local area to inform them. Judi will be speaking in March to local area family physicians, child care workers.....and is starting to talk to school principles and teachers......
Most importantly, Judi has forwarded cc's to the 4 provincial MPP's near her federal riding, and is meeting with them. I requested, and Judi has agreed, to arrange for cc'ies of the Report to go to all Ontario provincial MPP's and Ministers.
Judi felt members of the JC across Canada would be able to arrange provincial distribution to MPP's and MLA's provincially.

RECOMMENDATION 2
In your province, if it is not Ontario, check with your closest member of the JC to see if cc's of the Report have gone to all provincial MPP's and MLA's, as well as lawyers. Request it be done. Use Judi's action as example of  leadership in informing people about the Report. Encourage your JC member to meet with their provincial 'neighbours' to inform and encourage provincial action.

NOTE 3
There was considerable discussion at the meeting about lack of enforcement by provincial bodies of existing legislation, and the difficulty and costs of working through the existing minefield controlled by the legal industry. Judi spoke to the recommendation that unified courts be introduced quickly, along with case management, to deal with separation and divorce.
She was challenged on the effectiveness of that process, but suggested getting the issue into one place with one judge would be an important improvement. She recognizes the failure to enforce access, the abuse of supervised access programs......and believes a cultural mind change must be caused to treat children and parents differently.

RECOMMENDATION 3
Judi believes strongly that each MP must hear from local constituents, and be requested to write the Justice Minister asking for immediate action on the JC Report. Only by having Liberal MP's for example, write to their Justice leader, will the full force of the Liberal caucus be brought to bear on this issue. I have met my MP ( a Liberal ). He is writing McLellan requesting speedy action on the Report.
He acknowledges the need for many Liberal MP's to write to force action to be taken. He recommends the sooner the better, with a goal of LOTS OF MP LETTERS TO McLELLAN requesting action.

NOTE 4
Judi Longfield recognizes some provinces are on-side to the direction of the JC report.....but others are not. She considers education of the local MPP's and MLA's a critical step. In particular, she considers the current Ontario provincial government NOT particularly supportive of change. Judi does acknowledge a Ontario provincial election is on the horizon, and that's a time to determine political party intentions. As Judi is a Liberal, and the current Ontario government Conservative, her views are partly understandable.

RECOMMENDATION 4
While change at the federal level is paramount, softening up the provincial people to be ready to change.....and enforce......is important.

NOTE 5
While child support was nor officially part of the JC mandate, members of the Committee are aware and watching the review process associated with Child support that is now underway.

RECOMMENDATION 5
Circulation of any new information on the  Child support review is helpful. A study is now underway, and some have had success in learning about the process of review, and informing the rest of us.

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