Viewpoint—Legislative Progress

“Progress is being made in jurisdictions across the country, and I’m pleased to note that, after many years of struggle for grandchildren and  grandparents’ rights in the Maritimes, Nova Scotia’s grandparent’s group won this first battle.

“Our quilt was on display in Nova Scotia in its early years and grandparents had the opportunity to contribute their stories.”
Daphne Jennings

New custody rights for grandparents in Nova Scotia came into effect on Monday, Sept 1, 2014, with changes made to the Maintenance and Custody Act. Over many years, grandparents had been unfairly shut out in custody cases. In the past, grandparents seeking access had to ask the court’s permission for standing before they could proceed to a hearing regarding access to their grandchildren.

COURTS RECOGNIZE GRANDPARENTS

With Bill 40, grandparents will not have to apply for standing. The court will recognize grandparents as part of the family where parents divorce or separate, and grandparents may ask for continuing access.

Pauline Glenn, a National Director for the Canadian Grandparents Rights Association, and a leader with the advocacy group Grandparents Rights for Nova Scotia had been fighting for this fathers and custodyday for 14 years.

“Although a cloudy and rainy day, for Nova Scotia’s grandparents and grandchildren it’s a sunny day,” Pauline said on CBC Radio’s Information Morning during an interview on Bill 40.

When Nova Scotia Justice Minister Lena Dian introduced the changes earlier this year, she said the amendments to the Maintenance and Custody Act would remove this step so courts would proceed directly to considering requests from grandparents for contact.

“We have a voice now,” Pauline said. “The courts will look at us more positively because we have rights.” It could save time and legal fees, as well. Pauline hopes the next step will be to expand the conciliation processes to include grandparents. Glenn compares losing access to grandchildren to experiencing a death in the family.

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Viewpoint—Media Coverage

The fight by the Canadian Grandparents Right Association for shared parenting through legislative/judicial change has received a great deal of media coverage over the years. A key supporter of our mission to change how children of divorce and other broken relationships are treated is Roger Gallaway, the former Sarnia-Lambton MP who co-chaired the 1998 federal report For The Sake Of The Children.  His office issued a key press release in June 2001 about the Grandparents’ Quilt that generated a lot of attention. The content is reproduced, in part, below:

News Release/Communiqué  —  Roger Gallaway, M.P. Sarnia-Lambton

THE GRANDPARENTS’ QUILT
A Symbol of Canada’s Broken Divorce Family Law Regime

Ottawa, June 4, 2001: On Tuesday, June 5th, the Canadian Grandparents Rights Association (CGRA) will be displaying the Hearts and Hands Across Canada Grandparents’ Quilt in the northeast corner of the Centre Block Rotunda on Parliament Hill. This patchwork quilt is made up of heart and hand-shaped patches which represent grandparents who have been denied access to their grandchildren or are raising their grandchildren.

Joining Madeleine Bremner, local President of the Grandparents’ Rights chapter, will be former Parliamentarian and the Grandparents’ Rights National Director, Daphne Jennings.

Today Ms. Jennings is asking: “After many years of consultation and representation, why is the

Canadian Grandparents Rights Association National Director Daphne Jennings, left,
local chapter President Madeleine Bremner, and Senator Anne Cools show the Hands Across Canada quilt on Parliament Hill.

Justice Mister still sitting on her hands?”

While in Parliament, Ms Jennings was a very visible advocate and spokesperson for the rights of grandparents. Ms. Jennings noted the Minister once said, “Joint custody may simply perpetuate the influence and domination of men over women. Is she reluctant to act because the recommendations, which favour shared custody and responsibility, fly in the face of the Minister’s personal bias?” asked Jennings.

Joining with Bremner and Jennings at 1:15 p.m. will be Senator Anne Cools and Sarnia-Lambton M.P. Roger Gallaway.

“We are pleased that grandparents are bringing this tangible symbol of a broken divorce regime to this place. It is an opportunity for them to engage parliamentarians and the public in their crusade for fairness and equality when a divorce occurs,” stated Cools.