Yes, I do. I think this also will help to clarify some of the information that we had before the committee on Tuesday.
Reference was just made to the number of couples; it was 3,000, or something in that range. Between the last committee hearing and today I did follow up with my colleagues at the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, the two witnesses who appeared before this committee, Karen Mihorean and Lynn Barr-Telford. We discussed the numbers that had been provided to the committee, which were that 0.07% of 15-year-olds were estimated to be involved in married or common-law relationships, and she had said as well that translated into 72 per 100,000. That's not for the total population of Canada, but for the estimated population of 15-year-olds.
On that point, to clarify, we don't have these data yet from the 2006 census on age and sex. What StatsCan does is work with the data that are available from the last census, 2001, and then project what the estimated population will be of that age group for the year in question. If you follow that through, what they've projected is that the 0.07% gives 316 as the number of 15-year-olds estimated to be involved in a legally married relationship or in a common-law relationship for 2006. That breaks down to 108 15-year-old boys and 208 15-year-old girls.
It's correct, as has been noted this morning, that we don't have the breakdown of what percentage of those relationships would fall within the five-year close-in-age exception as proposed by Bill C-22, or how many would now be caught because the partner is more than five years older. Bill C-22 contemplates those relationships that would exceed the five-year close-in-age exception and provides a transitional defence for those existing couples who meet that definition. Of the 316, based again on Statistics Canada's projected estimates of how many were legally married at age 15, the number I provided on Tuesday to this committee was five in total for Canada for the year 2005. Obviously it is not necessarily an exact science. If we take the 316 married or common-law projected for 2006 and take off that number of perhaps five--a handful--it leaves almost the entire group of 15-year-olds involved in a common-law relationship.
In the time I had available to me before today, I can't confirm to you with certainty that there are no 14-year-olds at all in those relationships, or that StatsCan doesn't collect the data for 14-year-olds who may be married. Prior to this it was my understanding that they don't collect the data on 14-year-olds, but I can't confirm it. The best information I can provide to the committee is that perhaps in the neighbourhood of 300 common-law relationships currently exist, and a handful of legally married.
From there, in terms of trying to understand if there will be a conflict between Bill C-22 and the age of consent and how provinces deal with age under their solemnization legislation, I have said in providing an overview to this committee that under the provinces' and territories' solemnization legislation--that is, who can obtain a licence to marry--three provinces do not allow anyone under the age of 16 to marry or to obtain a licence. Those are Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Yukon Territory--so in three out of the 13 jurisdictions, it's never.
In the rest of the jurisdictions, four will grant an exception under the age that they set--meaning someone under the age of 16, or 15 in the two other territories--provided the female is pregnant. That means Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut—in those two territories the age is 15 for solemnization of marriage—and also Prince Edward Island; it's 16 there and 16 in Alberta. In those four jurisdictions the decision is made by a judge, and again, it's on the basis that the female in question is pregnant.
If I translate that to how this plays out with Bill C-22, that means the person seeking approval to marry has already been the victim of a sexual assault under Bill C-22.
In the remaining provinces the criteria change a bit for one that's similar to what I've just described--a female is pregnant. In Manitoba, basically the court has the discretion to issue the licence, where the young person is under the age of 16. In 1970 the legislation used to be that if the girl was pregnant, it was an automatic right. They changed the legislation. So it's no longer an automatic entitlement; the judge has to consider the circumstances in the case.
In New Brunswick, for example, the marriage has to be shown to be proper. In Nova Scotia, it's expedient and in the interests of the parties. In Ontario, the circumstances justify the issue of the licence. In Saskatchewan, a court judge can do so retrospectively, if the parties have already consummated the relationship or have lived together by the time they apply for the licence.
To sum up the state of the marriage laws in the provinces, the majority either do not allow or only allow under the age of 16 where the girl is pregnant. The others look at the circumstances of the case.
I'm not sure if this would help you, but I can give you an example of how a court goes through the considerations of a marriage licence application.
There is a decision by the name of Al-Smadi, father and extra friend, from 1994, Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba in Winnipeg. In this reported case, there was a 15-year-old girl seeking to marry her 27-year-old boyfriend. She was living with her father. The father was consenting to the application. The question before the court was whether it was appropriate in the circumstances to issue the licence to this 15-year-old girl in that relationship.
In the first application there was no evidence before the court that she was pregnant. The court, in that case, decided against approving the marriage. It wasn't in the interest of the child in that set of circumstances.
Either she knew she was pregnant and had not disclosed it or she subsequently became pregnant and the matter returned to the court. Recognizing again that the court had the jurisdiction to grant the exception, to issue the licence, the court in those circumstances did allow the marriage to proceed because she was pregnant at that point.
I have not been able to identify a lot of reported cases. I don't mean this to be cited as an example that they're all like this, but it's an example that the committee may find helpful in their deliberations.
Yes, there are some couples who would be affected right now if Bill C-22 were to come into force. Bill C-22 contemplates that and provides an exception.
I believe a question on Tuesday was this. If you don't meet the definition, for example, of common-law relationship--the couple hasn't been residing together for one year or more or they haven't been residing together for a shorter period of time and they aren't having a child or haven't had a child together already in that relationship--what happens?
Obviously, when Bill C-22 was being developed, the considerations were that if you were going to propose a change in the law, there was going to have to be a line drawn, and how would you justify where the line was drawn?
There is a varying treatment of what constitutes a common-law relationship across the country and the provinces for the purposes of family law. The Criminal Code already provided a definition of a “common-law partner”, which was a conjugal relationship of one year or more. So Bill C-22 says that there is an established definition, an established understood context, but recognizes, again, that you could have a shorter period of time and you could have a child born of that relationship or expected, which is not inconsistent with what the provinces do in terms of how they establish common law for provincial purposes.
So Bill C-22 will affect some existing relationships. It does provide exceptions for those limited, established relationships. It will prevent or criminalize new relationships formed after Bill C-22 comes into effect, on the basis that Bill C-22 would say if you're more than five years older than a 14-year-old or 15-year-old youth, it's against the law. That would be the intention or the objective of Bill C-22.
Two years ago I had spoken to this committee on the former bill, Bill C-2, on the protection of children. We had some information provided to the committee that looked at what we knew about the age of the partners of these 15-year-old youths. The information had been provided to this committee in a chart form that had been prepared by Statistics Canada, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. It generally showed that most of the partners who were identified through the 2001 census data were over the five-year close-in-age exception. We can't explain the nature of that.