Madam Speaker, I have been waiting all day for a chance to make a few comments. I realize a lot of other people would like to do that. Perhaps we will have to extend the debate.
Some of the criticism we have received as Reformers is that there are more important things to talk about. We are talking about the family, the fundamental building block of society. It is necessary that we discuss this and send a clear signal to the courts.
I want to read from an article written by Lorne Gunter in the Edmonton Journal . The title is “Cohabitation costly for the taxpayer”. He wrote:
—studies consistently find that 80 to 85 per cent of couples who start out by living together fail to make it through life together. Among couples who never lived together before wedding one another, the failure rate is under 20 per cent. Still, what gives anyone else the right to suggest common-law marriages are wrong? Just one thing: the cost of cleaning up the wreckage. Children whose parents' relationship breaks down are much more likely to underachieve at school and in life. They are nearly twice as likely to drop out, and girls are nearly three times as likely to get pregnant before leaving their teens and far more likely to have abortions. Suicides are higher, illegal drug use is greater and the incidence of `getting into trouble with the law' is nearly six times more. Simple marital breakdown is the leading cause of social problems, perhaps the leading cause. So because common-law relationships are so prone to breakdown they contribute disproportionately to the social ills that everyone must live with and subsidize.
In other words, we are talking about the family. We are talking about children. We are talking about the fundamental building block of society, not all the other things that people are trying to bring into this discussion.