Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's motion on the creation of a unified family court. After reading her motion and listening to her speech, I am convinced the hon. member's intentions are good.
The Reform member surely has valid amendments to propose in order to deal with family breakups, the increasing number of divorces, and the problems experienced by children following their parents' divorce. However, creating a unified family court would not solve these problems.
In fact, it would create another problem. Whenever a change is made to a system, particularly the judicial system, the objective must be to improve that system. I do not believe that creating a court which would overlap existing tribunals would improve the system.
It must be understood that, in the current system, as the Liberal member pointed out, the majority of provinces already have their own family court. In Quebec, the Superior Court's family division deals with all family related issues.
So, establishing a unified court over the structure already in place in some provinces would be interfering in areas over which the federal has no jurisdiction. My main objection to the motion is that, once again, it ignores the respective jurisdictions in this country called Canada. The government is deliberately imposing national standards, or a very federal view, on anything that moves in this country.
I am sure the member means well, but I think she should have examined this issue more closely. There is no reason at this time to create such a court, which would merely duplicate what already exists.
I will give you an example to show how it would create more problems than it would solve. I am thinking of the famous trial and appeal divisions of the federal court. This is a court specifically for cases involving the federal government, when each of the provinces is equipped to settle these differences.
But no, the federal government felt the need to have a court with trial and appeal divisions in order to complicate Canada's judicial system. It would be exactly the same thing if it were to institute a federal unified family court.
I think that if we look at what is being done in the provinces, and I will refer to Quebec because I practised there for at least eight years, I know that in the case of family law, which is handled by the Superior Court, there are weaknesses, but there are also some things that work very well.
I think that, if we want to help soften the blow of a separation or a divorce on families, we should perhaps try to find a way of actually helping affected family members. In Quebec, one of the methods we have adopted is compulsory mediation.
The hon. member says that the unified court would be able to do mediation, but here again, this is already being done in a number of provinces, including Quebec, which has compulsory mediation services. This means that individuals involved in a divorce or separation are invited to meet with professionals in this field to try and reach an amicable arrangement. We do not need the unified court to do this. I think we should let the provincial legislatures try to find the right way to deal with the problem of divorce.
At the present time, there is no evidence that the system is not effective, so I suggest we let the system be and try and find ways to improve it. Let me give you another example to show why Quebec cannot consider having a unified family court, and I am referring to Bill C-41, a bill that was discussed by the two members who spoke earlier.
According to this bill, and I may remind you that the Bloc Quebecois was against this kind of legislation since in Quebec we already had a support payment tax rate structure that could be either federal or provincial. The criteria were not the same, the amount was not the same, and some aspects were perhaps important to people in English Canada, while others were more important to Quebec, so that the party making the payments could negotiate on which basis support payments would be paid. He would opt for the tax rate that suited his particular case, and it could be either federal or provincial.
Still on the same subject, if a unified family court is established in Canada, this will open the door to various interpretations, to decisions that might be at odds with a family policy developed in Quebec, for instance, by the National Assembly.
Clearly such a motion exposes the real cost of centralizing federalism. Everything possible is to be directed toward Ottawa. The aim is to take over provincial jurisdictions as much as possible in order to reduce the power of provincial legislatures as much as possible.
In Quebec City, they want as much of that as they can get. As regards the family, if Quebec wants a structured view of the 2000s, it will first have to recover all its powers in family matters, including divorce. The Quebec Civil Code contains a part that provides for recovering all facets of divorce proceedings, and we are waiting for the federal government to decide to withdraw from this area.
You will understand that, with Quebec claiming more and more powers in this area, we cannot support the motion by the Reform member.
I repeat, I am sure her intentions were good in moving this motion, but they will not take her to the objective she set with such a motion. The result would be duplication, overlap and higher administrative costs in an area of jurisdiction that is exclusively provincial.