moved for leave to introduce Bill C-435, An Act to amend the Civil Marriage Act (divorce and corollary relief).
Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce a private member's bill entitled an act to amend the Civil Marriage Act (divorce and corollary relief).
Members will know that on February 17 the government introduced a similarly titled bill which has as its main purpose to guarantee the validity of all same-sex marriages entered into in Canada, something we on this side of the House have never questioned.
My bill aims to provide the same legal guarantee but has two additional provisions. The most important is to add a clause to allow Canadian courts, if asked, to assume jurisdiction for corollary remedies. This would allow them in non-resident same-sex divorce cases to deal with important matters like child custody and division of property. Without this provision, which is not in the government's bill, non-resident same-sex couples would be able to get a divorce but they would have no way of dealing with outstanding legal questions connected with that divorce, including child custody.
The other provision would correct a technical flaw in the government's bill that would require one member of a same-sex couple seeking a divorce, where the other was missing or unreasonably withholding consent, to get a declaration stating this from a court in the home jurisdiction. This is obviously impossible if the same-sex marriage is not recognized in that jurisdiction.
Since creating the furor over the question of validity of same-sex marriages, the government has not proceeded beyond introducing its bill. Today I call on the Conservatives to either proceed with their bill, and I will offer them the amendments from mine, or if they prefer, as of today we could proceed with my bill.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)