Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties who participated in the debate this afternoon. It is unfortunate that, like so many pieces of legislation, this private member's bill will not be votable and that this hour will be the only opportunity that members have to participate in a debate about such an important issue as joint custody or shared parenting as is the new term.
I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre for his eloquent remarks. I congratulate him on his first speech. I know he did not intend to speak today, late on a Friday afternoon, but he jumped to his feet and participated in the debate.
I also would like to thank my colleague from the Progressive Conservatives from Brandon—Souris for his support and for his supportive comments in this debate.
The member for Windsor—St. Clair also imparted his experience and wisdom that he accumulated when he worked in the real world, shall we say. I would dispute perhaps the fundamental opposition he voiced to the legislation, Bill C-237. If I understood his remarks correctly, he said it would probably result in more litigation, more than the present 10% that statistics show us.
I would pose the question why would it necessarily do that? Parents would understand that the courts would uphold the joint custody unless there was clear evidence of abuse, mistreatment or whatever reason the court might rule. However, it would have to be based upon fundamental, ironclad evidence that it would be not in the best interests of the child to have joint custody. Once it became the norm, I believe parents would accept that. They would quit using children as pawns in their otherwise very disruptive divorce settlements or separation settlements.
I would dispute whether it would necessarily result in an increase in that 10% number.
I congratulate the member for Erie—Lincoln on participating in this debate. I was appalled and saddened at his remarks but not surprised. I suspect that the general thrust of his speech, if not in its entirety, was put together by lawyers in the justice department for the Minister of Justice and perhaps passed to him. They may not all be his thoughts on this important subject.
If I understood him, his main argument was that the government in its infinite wisdom wants to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with this very important subject of shared parenting or custody and access. I would argue that the government has had time. How much longer can children wait? Every day that goes by there are children caught between their love, respect and devotion for both parents. Children are being hurt the most by the government's inaction.
We can go into all the legalities. As the member for Brandon—Souris said we are not lawyers, so I will not get into the legality of it. I believe very strongly that all of us as members of parliament, regardless of party, are being beseeched by citizens, parents and grandparents across the country on this issue. There has to be a time for action and it has to be now.
I could go on but we are out of time. I could talk about my own experience having just gone through a divorce some two years ago and the fact that I have three children. Now is not the time to go into that. Many of us have been touched by divorce. We have seen children who have been hurt when parents start warring in the courts or outside the courts. We must do something for them. I believe this was the first step we could have taken to go down that road to institute a system of more fairness and to help the children.