Written By: Adam Peach
Canadians, particularly in Ontario may or may not have heard the recent political debate in regards to Bill 28 over the past few months. The bill was passed on November 29th, 2016 and as of January 1st, 2017 it is in force. The bill aims to include all types of families into the legal framework of what a family actually is. This is especially important for same-sex parents, or surrogate parents who currently have to go through a financially-draining legal process of adoption after the child is born. In more extreme cases, if a surrogate mother dies during birth, the co-parent of the child would have to also go through a financially-draining legal process to adopt the child. Not only is this traumatizing for the parent, it is extremely traumatizing for the children.
This bill will now allow up to 4 parents to register as legal parents of the child. It is important to note that this bill clearly states that parents can still register as “mother” and “father”, OR as “birth parent” and “co-parent” upon registration after birth of the child.
It allows parents in the LGBT community to be legal parents upon birth, and not have to legally adopt the child afterwards in court. It aims to include LGBT parents in the legal framework of what a family is. It is a step in the right direction for human rights in Canada and recognizes that not all families are the same.
The far-right conservatives, however, are using propaganda and fear mongering to convince the public that this bill aims to destroy the fundamentals of what a family is by destroying the legal terms “mother” and “father”. They claim the bill will destroy families and makes the child a “commodity” for the government. The conservatives are aligning themselves with the views of far-right Christian groups like ARPA Canada, who do not recognize LGBT issues and believe that Mother (female) and Father (male) should be the only legal model of what defines parents. In a nutshell, these are the same people who did not support same-sex marriage, due to religious ideologies. They believe accepting these “radical views” will destroy families and degrade our society.
If there is one person we can all remember in recent history when it comes to human rights, it’s Dr. Martin Luther King. His views about Human rights were also considered “radical” by far-right Christian conservatives at a time before the Human Rights Act was passed in the United States. These people’s falsified fears echo loud and clear where they stand on human rights issues such as gender equality.
This bill does not undermine the rights of anyone. In fact, it is the polar opposite. Bill 28 actually gives more rights to members of a community still struggling for equality, while still giving male/female parents the right to be “mother” and “father”. To not allow this bill to pass would be undermining the rights of Canadians. And those who oppose it are echoing a message that they support the outdated belief that marriage and parenthood should only consist of a man and a woman.
An Op-Ed published in The Hamilton Spectator, and written by an obvious far-right conservative, actually went as low as to compare this bill to the legal equivalent of the Aboriginal Residential Schools in which aboriginal children were taken to be schooled far from home, abused, and “enfranchised” to forget their native language and culture and assimilate them into the “dominant Canadian culture”. The Aboriginal Residential School system was funded, in part, by the Christian Church.
By referencing the history of residential schools in this conversation, they are proving they have an immense lack of understanding and lack of respect for cultural differences within their own borders. 10 years from now, when this bill is still recognized as an essential move towards human equality in Canada, it is going to be extremely difficult for these people to explain why they were so opposed to a law that finally gives rights to all types of parents in the name of protecting their children.
In regards to the legal adoption process mentioned above; not only will this bill eliminate that traumatizing process, it also saves a lot of taxpayer dollars currently being dumped into the courts to facilitate that process. This bill removes that expensive process in the name of protecting the children.
For anyone interested in hearing what Bill 28 actually stands for, I invite you to see for yourself the reading of this bill by Cheri Dinovo of the NDP party in the links provided below. I’ve also provided a link to the Clause by Clause debate of this bill.
The Hamilton Spectator – “Bill 28 Creates New Definitions Of Parentage And Rules For Birth Registration” –
The National Post – “Ontario Liberals Opposition On Same Page Over Bill Changing “Mothers” and “Fathers” To Gender Neutral Terms –
Hamilton Spectator – “Residential Schools Experience A Warning For Fallout Of Bill 28” – http://m.thespec.com/opinion-story/6954042-residential-schools-experience-a-warning-for-fallout-of-bill-28
The Federalist – “Canadian Law Erasing Moms And Dads From State Documents Reduces Children To Chattel” –
Toronto sun – “Wynne Government Targets “Mother” And “Father”” –
Ontario Government Newsroom – “Ontario Passes Law Ensuring Equal Rights For All Parents And Children” – https://news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2016/11/ontario-passes-law-ensuring-equal-rights-for-all-parents-and-children.html