Green Party platform criticized for being “anti-feminist”

by: Obert Madondo  | Aug 26, 2015

Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, serves pancakes during the 2008 Calgary Stampede. The Greens' 2015 federal election platform is being criticized for being inaccurate and “anti-feminist”. (Photo: Tavis Ford/Flickr/CC)

Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, serves pancakes during the 2008 Calgary Stampede. The Greens’ 2015 federal election platform is being criticized for being inaccurate and “anti-feminist”. (Photo: Tavis Ford/Flickr/CC)

The Green Party of Canada has attacked NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair for ignoring “Canadians’ demands” to include its leader, Elizabeth May, in the 2015 federal election party leaders debates. The party is also in the forefront of the “Up for Debate” call for a debate on women’s issues during the campaign.

Now the Greens’ election platform is being criticized for being “anti-feminist”.

As Metro News reports, “As Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was promoting her willingness to participate in a debate on women’s 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.”

“Every time I dig deeper into the Green party’s stand on women’s issues I get a little freaked out,” said a reader responding to the Metro News’ posting on Facebook.

Yet another said, “My experience with the party (particularly when I attended a policy convention) was that there were a lot of crotchety old men who didn’t feel the other parties addressed their concerns. It was generally a group of misfits in that way, but the angry old men stood out in particular. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was penned precisely by one of those angry old men that I spent a lot of energy trying to avoid, and passed at a policy convention without a full understanding of the implications.

Here’s the irksome policy document, via the Green Party of Canada:

Many Canadian couples experience a marriage or partnership breakdown. For those who enter the world of court-resolved divorce and child care disputes, years of unhappiness can follow. Increasingly, the non-custodial parent lacks meaningful access to his or her children. Grandparents can also be cut off.

There are no winners in these cases and children are the primary losers.

Upwards of 50% of marriages end in divorce, and an even higher rate of partner relationships suffer breakdowns. While the original intent of ‘no fault’ divorce introduced in 1985 was well-intentioned to make divorce easier and equally available to both genders, a quarter of a century later, 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.

The family court system has become dysfunctional and arbitrary: Children are at risk of being isolated from one parent as well as grandparents; bankruptcies occur for one parent in 50% of divorces; Child Support can become a thinly disguised form of Spousal Support; false allegations and perjury are not uncommon; court orders for access are routinely ignored or flouted by moving to another jurisdiction; legal costs often consume accumulated assets of separating family units; ‘deadbeat parents’ – some of whom deserve the title but some of whom are sick, unemployed, or below the poverty line – are subjected to counterproductive loss of licences and loss of passport as well as ‘debtor’s prison’; and legal aid is often not available for many family issues – arguably the most fundamental liberty interest of all. Resolution of this issue is made additionally and unfairly complicated by having responsibility split among provincial and federal jurisdictions for various aspects of divorce.

The very social fabric of Canada and its future is being systematically eroded by a broken and unnecessarily intrusive system that has multigenerational consequences.

The Green Party envisions a society where family break-downs avoid the suffering of children, grandparents, and former spouses and which does not clog the courts. We will work to re-balance the current family law system, making it less adversarial, and place the on-going maintenance of healthy relationships, wherever possible, at the heart of the system.

The Green Party affirms the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

As in any disruptive life event, the state has an obligation to assist parties through the transition period of marriage dissolution.

The regrettable dissolution of family units should be handled in an economic and expeditious manner with maximum responsibility placed on separating parties with minimum reliance on adversarial legal processes. The role of the state is to facilitate the process.

Greens believe that two principles can operate together. The paramount principle is ‘the best interests of the child.’ Under no circumstances should parental interests trump the best interests of the child. To this, we assume that in most circumstances, a second principle, ‘equal parenting’ can be honoured. The best interests of the child are served through maximal ongoing parental involvement with the child, and that the presumption of equal parenting via joint responsibility and decision making is the starting point for judicial deliberations. Aside from joint responsibility and ongoing obligations to the child, separating partners should be free to arrange their own relationships under private law and, following dissolution, should be unencumbered in pursuing their own paths unless otherwise agreed beforehand.

To avoid children being treated like the spoils of war, the Greens believe the Divorce Act must be overhauled. The British Columbia family law provisions are a sound model. We will launch a consultation with Canadians, with the legal community, family therapists, and other experts to seek ways to reduce, and preferably eliminate, the adversarial nature of family law.

Is the criticism justified?

The Greens have promised to revise the platform.

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow me on Twitter: @Obiemad

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.
  • I appreciate hearing some positive new ideas.

    Unfortunate this party was denied access to the national debates.

    On the issue of women’s issues, my question is that the greatest threat to the women of tomorrow, is not funding their education as children, not funding their health care as children, and the use of health care dollars to terminate the lives of unborn female children, merely because they are female.

    Seems we have to seriously consider supporting ‘unborn women’, unborn children in general and supporting the traditional family unit with guaranteed family incomes, especially when some fathers and mothers sacrifice to support our future generations.

  • Been saying it for years. Liz May is a dipso lunatic.
    Best you can say about her is that she’s a conservative with a composter

  • The NDP must be feeling threatened.

  • As promised, the Green Party of Canada has since revised its contentious policy document. Gone are objectionable statements such as: “The family court system has become dysfunctional and arbitrary… Child Support can become a thinly disguised form of Spousal Support; false allegations and perjury are not uncommon…”

    The “inaccurate” statement, “Upwards of 50% of marriages end in divorce, and an even higher rate of partner relationships suffer breakdowns,” is also gone. According to a 2010 Vanier Institute of the Family report, which was quoted by the CBC News, the Canadian figure is about 40 per cent.

    All in all, the GPC’s revised policy document no longer trivializes the fact that women do most of the heavy lifting in marriage and divorce situations. Kudos to the Greens for acting so promptly on an issues of grave concern to Canadians.

    The GPC’s revised policy document can be accessed via: http://www.greenparty.ca/en/policy/vision-green/people/justice/divorce

  • As promised, the Green Party of Canada has since revised its contentious policy document. Gone are objectionable statements such as: “The family court system has become dysfunctional and arbitrary… Child Support can become a thinly disguised form of Spousal Support; false allegations and perjury are not uncommon…”

    The “inaccurate” statement, “Upwards of 50% of marriages end in divorce, and an even higher rate of partner relationships suffer breakdowns,” is also gone. According to a 2010 Vanier Institute of the Family report, which was quoted by the CBC News, the Canadian figure is about 40 per cent.

    All in all, the GPC’s revised policy document no longer trivializes the fact that women do most of the heavy lifting in marriage and divorce situations. Kudos to the Greens for acting so promptly on an issues of grave concern to Canadians.

    The GPC’s revised policy document can be accessed via: http://www.greenparty.ca/en/policy/vision-green/people/justice/divorce

  • I guess the Green Party is starting to make some people nervous. The attacks are ramping up.

    • Yeah, it’s all the medias fault that people are actually posting dizzie Liz May’s actual views and platform during an election. How dare they?.,

  • MoS

    Why is something always under the skin of New Dems? They’ve got a Thatcher fancying, ex-Liberal, market fundamentalist, Likkudnik at the NDP helm and they’re doing pretty well after jettisoning all their historic principles so why don’t they just sit back and chill. When you’ve become everything that going all the way back to Tommy Douglas you so vociferously rebuked at every turn, year after year, it’s gonna take a while to grow into your lizard skin.

  • Says who?

  • For one thing, she is personally antichoice. Bad start.