News / Toronto

Green Party promises to update 'anti-feminist,' inaccurate platform

“It’s fair to say those specific areas are under review, big time."

Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

The Canadian Press

Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

The Green Party is changing a section of its platform after receiving criticism that it’s inaccurate and “anti-feminist.”

As Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was promoting her willingness to participate in a debate on women¹s issues Tuesday, online critics attacked the section of her platform concerning divorce as harmful to women.

They noted, for example, it does not refer to domestic violence, aside from claiming that “false allegations” are common.

By the end of the day, the party had committed to changing the things people found offensive.

Julian Morelli, the party’s communications director, said he’s thankful the problems were brought to light.

“It’s fair to say those specific areas are under review, big time,” he told Metro.

Heather Hansen, a partner with Toronto’s Martha McCarthy & Company and a specialist in family law, reviewed the original platform for Metro and said it’s “extremely troubling.”

It calls for an overhaul of the Divorce Act, and includes some rhetoric that just isn’t accurate, she said.

The policy document begins with a criticism of “no fault” or “unilateral” divorce, which gives either spouse the right to a divorce after a separation without assigning blame to a single side, even if the other spouse doesn’t consent.

It is used by almost all divorcing couples, Hansen said. The Green Party platform, meanwhile, asserts “virtually every Canadian is now aware of the many shortcomings and the unintended consequences of unilateral divorce through the direct experience of family or close friends.”

That criticism, according Hansen, just doesn’t make sense.

The platform also includes factual errors, including that “upwards of 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce,” when it’s only 40 per cent, according to the latest Canadian government statistics.

It also calls for “equal parenting,” a legislative principle that says parenting time should be presumed to be split 50-50, unless there’s a proven reason why it should be otherwise.

The idea was rejected by the federal government in 1998. Today, the Divorce Act includes the principle that parenting time should be maximized between parties but says the interest of the child comes first, Hansen said.

“There’s a very troubling anti-feminist bent to this,” said Hansen. “Women continue to do the heavy lifting of parents and to create carte-blanche presumptions in the legislation undermines that reality, and that reality is directly linked to the best interest of the children.”

One section that’s particularly troubling to Hansen refers to child support as “a thinly disguised form of spousal support.”

Child support is about making sure children share, proportionally, in the income earned by each parent.

It’s separate from spousal support, which is necessary for many recipients, who are primarily women.

--

Update:

The platform has been updated online. You can view the new version here and the old edition here.

More on Metronews.ca