April 5, 1950

PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

There are children present.

[Mr. Croll.)

Topic:   MOTION FOR SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ENLARGEMENT OF GROUNDS
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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

It continues:

Evangeline, during her short but lucrative sideline practice, never appeared in court, and her right name never appeared in the divorce papers. Her clients, she always said, did seem to appreciate "a refined co-respondent."

I read this only to indicate some of the things that are going on. . It is apparent that the present law does not help to keep the family together, that in fact it creates a situation where perjury is committed every day in our courts. The basis of our society is the family; but shall we endanger its very structure by exposing people who cannot possibly live together to circumstances where relief is available only if they commit adultery or perpetrate a fraud? I think too highly of the moral values of our society to believe that we can permit such a situation to continue. It leads to contempt for the courts on the part of many who find it easy to commit frauds and perjuries without action on the part of the courts. There is no field where the law is a greater hypocrite than in the divorce courts.

I am not criticizing the judges. They are doing the best they can. They are trying to be strict, and they are trying to stamp out fraud where they find it, or even where they smell it. But we must consider this, that they are bound by law, by precedent, by rules of evidence and procedure and practice, in the same way as you and I are bound. In ninety per cent of the cases they find there is no defendant, that the proceedings are ex parte, uncontested. There is very little they can do, but they do what they can in order to preserve what there is, and to assist the children in the best way they can. The law society is doing good work in this respect in attempting to control backsliders in the profession. They are disciplining those offenders, and their action is most serious in some of the provinces. However, the house should know that the pressure by the public is great indeed. There is not much the public does not know about the mechanics of divorce, even before they see their lawyers.

I do not set myself up as an authority; but in considering the purpose of marriage in civilized society it is apparent that there are certain cases which frustrate or vitiate that purpose, and where it is cruel for society to insist that two people, though in fact apart, should in the eyes of the law be bound together.

Therefore I propose that a committee of the house be set up to examine the whole manner of divorce in Canada, with a view to amending the law to grant relief in all circumstances where it appears wrong not to

do so. I feel that our present law no longer adequately reflects the public need or the public mind. It is high time we fumigated the divorce courts of this country, and did away with perjury, collusion, connivance and fraud. In my view the present law is unreal.

I would close by saying that the preamble to the English act puts the purpose clearly when it states:

Whereas it is expedient for the true support of marriage, the protection of children, the removal of hardship, the reduction of illicit unions and unseemly litigation, the relief of conscience among the clergy, and the restoration of due respect for the law, that the acts relating to marriage and divorce be amended.

I can add nothing further to that.

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LIB

Pierre Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Pierre Gauthier (Portneuf):

Mr. Speaker, I shall try to discuss the motion under discussion on its merits, although the wide-open door invites anyone to come in to envisage the whole question of divorce. If the motion asked for but one thing, namely the setting up of a committee to amend the divorce laws, one might believe or hope that the amendment would mean restrictions to an already too wide-open door. But the motion speaks of giving more grounds, more facility for divorce.

The difficulty with this whole much-debated question lies in the fact that marriage, which is a sacred thing, has been defaced and diverted from its real end, and now that it is taken more or less seriously, that anyone can get married with the idea that if married life does not meet with one's expectations one can always break the bond and try one's chances again. Rotten philosophical systems have been responsible for that change through the ages. Some call it liberty, some call it civilization. My words may be a little strong, but I call it licence and barbarism.

The ill effects of divorce on the family, on society and on nations are so evident in all countries that it would be about time for a national conscience examination, rather than to ask for more grounds, more facilities for divorce.

To stay away from the very question of divorce, in discussing the motion, is difficult. One has to give examples of so-called free countries where greater and greater facilities have been given for divorce. One has to offer arguments against the motion, in support of one's position, which are the same as the arguments used against divorce itself. I will try to stay close to the merits of the motion, although I do not find many. I find divorce anti-social and anti-patriotic and cannot look at the motion with indifferent eyes and keep the soft pedal on.

How often have I heard in this very chamber that the family is the basic cell of society.

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Can we protect that cell by adding to the already too wide-open door more facilities to disrupt marriages? Are we protecting families and homes in looking for more grounds by which parliament itself will render more frivolous the union of man and wife, will make the maternal instinct a mere thought, even a superstition in the brilliant realm of egotism and free love? The step parliament would take would be to ignore the already too serious situation. It would be sanctioning wrong principles of a nation-killing philosophy. What other results can repeated divorces bring than anarchy in the society where families are becoming wandering caravans.

Oh, I know modernism has an answer to that: The state. Well, let us take an example in a nation where the state is taking care of everything, even trying to rule the souls of her subjects-Russia. Let us look at her so-called freedom of union. Everyone here knows that the government of Russia has been for many years more than lenient toward divorce, giving more and more grounds for divorce. That government went as far as encouraging divorce, even abortions and free love. My contention is not that we have gone as far as Russia has, but the hill is too steep. Let us have a sample of their way of looking at it.

The philosophy of communism teaches that all morality, art and literature, as well as institutions, repose on methods of production. In keeping with this, a communist manifesto states that the bourgeois family reposes on capital or individual gain and that the family will therefore disappear with capital. Engels in his book "The Origin of the Family" says that only a union based on love is moral and that, when this love ceases to exist or when it is succeeded by a new passion, divorce becomes a benefit. Anyone, having followed the enumeration of motives or rather pretexts given for the majority of divorces, will admit that that word of Engels has found many partisans and advocates in our North American society. And I will add that divorce is one of the weak spots of democracies through which communism finds easy admittance into our democratic homes. Madame Kollontai, once a Soviet delegate at the league of nations, declared that love is a glass of water one swallows to satisfy one's thirst. I give the house these examples so that comparisons may be made between the situation here and there.

The matrimonial code of 1918 and 1927 affirmed the law: All children belong to the state. Here we are. It is so easy and handy: the state will take care of the wandering ones. The paternal state will replace maternal instinct, the father's devotion.

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They went further than that. The 1918 October code declared that all church marriages were invalid and could be dissolved at the will of either party, simply by sending in a postcard dissolving the union. The thirteenth congress of the communist party even described the family as the stronghold of all the turpitudes of the old regime. However, the family of a fugitive soldier was held responsible and the penalty went as far as detention. What a wonderful logic!

At the very beginning of the revolution a decree was passed declaring that all women between the ages of seventeen and thirty-two became the property of the state and the rights of the husbands were abolished. They made of women's labour the main sources from which industry could draw fresh supplies of workers. The women generally refused, but they were forced to accept the orders; so much so that in the earlier years of the first five-year plan about six million housewives were in towns. Shaburova, what they call a poet there, sang the beauties of the situation: Formerly, women only knew

how to cook soup and porridge, now they go to the foundry-at the foundry it is nicer. No reason was required for the separation of husband and wife, not even the permission of the other party.

All distinction broke down between legitimate and illegitimate children. The labour board settled the difficulty arising out of the separation of husband and wife by stating that either spouse could find a partner in the new place of occupation. Abortion clinics were established by the state throughout the country and every available means was used to weaken the family. Even in the times of the czars-and what has not been said against the evils of those times!-Russia never suffered such painful experiences. I know that the motion of the member for Spadina does not contemplate an approaching eventuality such as has occurred in Russia, but even in ascribing to the hon. member the best intentions, he cannot but admit that once the cavalier is in the saddle the chances are on his side and he might go far before being mastered.

And what was the result of that communist policy? One day the rulers started counting the heads and they found that in Moscow alone 57,000 children were born in

1934, while there had been 154,000 abortions. In the villages, 242,979 births were to be compared with 324,194 abortions. That is from Isvestia of July 12, 1936.

In Moscow, according to Isvestia, July 4,

1935, in the first five months, there were 38 per cent more divorces than registered marriages. In May, the number jumped to 44-3

[Mr. Gauthier (Portneuf).l

per cent. It is about time we declared that frivolity in union is a crime and that marital infidelity is an offence against the morale of society. The wife of Lenin estimated the number of children roaming the streets, stealing, assaulting and killing, at seven millions. In her book, "Les Femmes Sovietiques, 1937," Helen Iswolsky wrote that so great was the crime and juvenile delinquency that a joint resolution of April 7, 1935, of the central executive committee and the council of people's commissars-one of them was Molotov-decreed a full measure of punishment for children over 12, while death in other cases was mandatory. The communists were scared, they had to flinch, it was too much for their health.

They saw with their own eyes that their foolish, execrable, diabolic philosophy was killing the nation: killing the nation because too many grounds and facilities for divorce were destroying the families. They were scared by the sight of the wandering herds of fatherless and motherless children. The disintegration of the family is the disintegration of the nation.

Societies and organizations were formed, the third front of Soubine was formed, and it began pointing to the evil effects of divorce and abortions, reaffirming the maternal instinct too long ignored and repudiated. I will not go through all the numerous edicts and statements of the government to remedy the situation. Let me quote, however, the Journal of Commissariat of Justice:

Marriage is of a positive value only if partners see in it a lifelong union. So-called free love is a bourgeois invention."

As you see, Mr. Speaker, the ball is thrown back at us.

Moreover, marriage receives its lull value for the state only if there is a progeny, and the consorts experience the highest happiness of parenthood.

We could not expect the communists to declare marriage indissoluble because of its sanctity; it would be too much to ask them to consider the moral or spiritual value of union before a minister of God. Their philosophy derives from a mixture of materialism and class struggle, embodying the negation of God. But as we can see by their constitution, the state being close to disaster and in need of more men for war and for communist propaganda abroad, they were forced to come back and bury their ridiculous principles. The divorce cards were abolished, measures were taken to make divorce extremely difficult and rare, fees for divorce were raised from two rubles to two thousand, the so-called bourgeois distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate children reappeared in soviet law, and so on. Russia, after twenty years of

communism in practice, rejects its entire philosophy of the family; and as Monsignor Sheen wrote,

. . . without even intending to do so, proves that when we fail to obey God's laws, expressed in rational nature, we defeat ourselves.

Do you not believe, sir, that in enlarging grounds for divorce our parliament would be taking a very risky step, and if it agreed to the motion of the hon. member it would rather take a backward step? Let us for one moment, and to strengthen my argument, study some facts in the country of our neighbour to the south. In passing, we could in Canada derive great profit from the lesson contained in words I am going to quote. They are from Monsignor Sheen, that great American who is doing the most wonderful job in helping in the recuperation of the Christian ideal, not only in the United States but in all the world. The quotation is as follows:

The family is the barometer of the nation. What the average home is, that is America ... If the average husband and wife are not faithful to their marriage vows, then America will not insist on fidelity to the Atlantic charter and the four freedoms. If there is a deliberate frustration of the fruits of love, then the nation will develop economic policies of plowing under cotton, throwing coffee into the sea and frustrating nature for the sake of an economic price. If the husband and wife live only for self, and not for each other, if they fail to see that their individual happiness is conditioned on mutuality, then we shall have a country where capital and labour fight like husband and wife, both making social life barren and economic peace impossible. If the husband or wife permits outside solicitations to woo one away from the other, then we shall become a nation where alien philosophies will infiltrate as communism sweeps away that basic loyalty which was known as patriotism. If husband and wife live as if there is no God, then America shall have bureaucrats pleading for atheism as a national policy, repudiating the declaration of independence and denying that all our rights and liberties come to us from God . . . Every country gets the government it deserves. As we live at home, so shall the nation live.

I will not give figures to demonstrate that the situation is serious in Canada just as it is in the United States. Most of the members of the house are cognizant of the facts. I was listening to my hon. friend a little while ago, and he gave facts that proved that the situation is dangerous even in Canada. If we were to add more facilities for divorce we would ourselves go down the hill and, from what I have said before, we would meet the communists coming up, deceived and harassed by their costly experience. They have not changed their policies toward marriage because of their belief in the sanctity of marriage. They do not believe in God; otherwise they would be getting nearer to God. As their founder, Marx, said, after having met Feuerbach and Proudhon, from the first of whom he got his materialistic theory and

Divorce Laws

from the second his theory of class struggle, "I hate all the gods." They simply change their policy to meet the exigencies of their internal organization so as to provide more men for war, more men for propaganda abroad, and more women in the factories even after their costly experience.

As for ourselves, we are Christians, we have morals, and we believe in an oath. When men and women kneel before a minister of God they accept-and it is a lifelong pledge -the words of the minister, "I pronounce you man and wife until death do you part."

In this motion parliament is being asked to enlarge the grounds for divorce to include desertion for more than three years, which is a very big step; gross cruelty, judgment of which would be a matter of opinion and a very subjective appreciation; and incurable mental disease after five years, which is pretty hard to decide except in a few cases.

Until death do you part does not mean until you feel like changing your partner, nor until one's temper gets out of gear, nor until one gets tired of the other because of so-called mental cruelty, because one party starts smoking in bed or snores or likes playing poker too much. It is until death. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that we have gone far enough, much too far; and to ask parliament to give more facilities for divorce would be asking this eminent body to facilitate the disruption of society and to give a helping hand to those for whom liberty means frivolity and egotism.

How often nowadays do we hear hon. members speaking of the necessity for providing more social security. Does any one of them seriously believe that divorces do not in any way endanger that social security? With one hand we try to give support to the family and with the other we would with a smile, with a matter of fact attitude, and in the name of liberty and civilization, cut the bonds we were trying to reinforce yesterday. There is no worse slave in the world than he who abuses his liberty. As for civilization, can anyone believe that we are more civilized than we were before? Has anyone taken the trouble to evaluate the intervals between the most important wars since Napoleon? Between the Napoleonic war and the Franco-Prussian war the interval was fifty-three years. Between the Franco-Prussian war and world war I it was forty-three years. Between world war I and world war II it was twenty-one years, and this at a time when man has all the materials and conditions necessary for his happiness. More civilized?

Let us have a look at the ground of mental disease. To grant a divorce after it had been declared incurable, admitting that there was no mistake in the diagnosis, would mean that

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dissolution of marriage could be obtained by the consent of just one party. What about the other? Even though impotent, he still has rights; he still is a human being, a creature of God; and the other party has duties as well. Has he not promised mutual support? Oh, it is another thing if one has gone so far as to ridicule the word of honour, the lifelong pledge and the sanctity of marriage, denying the real composition of the human being, which is body and soul. Then if we are getting closer and closer to materialism, why cry out aloud against communism?

Why give more grounds, when it is already a joke? I happened to read a study on that question, and I found that a French magistrate wrote of his experience in the matter of divorce in France:

One has seen pre-arranged or simulated adulteries; we have learned, through a trial before us, that in Paris there are girls at the disposal of wives; girls kept specially for the purpose of bringing the husbands to commit adultery. Agencies have been organizing comedies where simulated adultery gives the married ones grounds for divorce.

I do not think France is worse than any other country. That disease is epidemic, and I believe the words of de Musset apply to it:

The vase is deep and the spot is at the bottom.

I do not think we could wipe out that spot by adopting the motion now under discussion. I said at the outset of my remarks that divorce is the weak spot through which communism could easily introduce itself into our society, first, because of the ever-increasing materialist philosophy which is establishing itself gradually in our way of thinking, and second, because of the ill effect on our birth rate. Remember the French general who gave the failure of the family to perpetuate itself as the basic reason for the debacle of his nation in 1940. Giving more grounds-, adding facilities, would be strengthening the genesis of frivolity established as a virtue, egotism as an essential part of liberty, and the pledge of honour as not more than a mere joke. The world today thinks too much of rights and not enough of duties. Do duties disappear when love ceases to exist in married life? Is incurable mental disease, whether it lasts one, two, five or ten years, a worthy reason to efface the duty of Charity and self-devotion toward the crippled one? In the family, man or woman is reverenced and respected not for what he can do, but because he is. Existence is valued in the home, not possession or influence. That is why the crippled, the sick and those who who are of no economic value to the family are given more affection than those who normally provide for its subsistence. The family is the training school, the novitiate of democracy. Destroy it by any means and

you threaten the very life of democracy. When a nation ceases to put the highest value on the home it will not be long before it ceases to put value on a person; then both Marxism and rotten capitalism meet, because both have valued man as a mere economic animal.

In the course of years I have had the privilege of seeing marvellous devotion in our families. I have seen children devoting their strength, wearing themselves out in the care of sick and crippled mothers and fathers. I have seen them giving their lives with no hope of their loved ones recovering. Family bonds meant something to them. I have seen a mother with four children undertake the heavy task of looking after her crippled sister, who was completely impotent. For thirteen years, laughing through her tears, forgetting her sore back and the sleepless nights spent in nursing both her children and her sister, she made her sacrifice because she knew the price of family duty, as well as the right of the sick to receive care from the healthy. We have called such mothers builders of the empire; and they have deserved and still deserve the attention, admiration and protection of the public powers. Only in the permanence of union can we expect permanence in devotion not only to families but toward the nation as well.

Here are the dangers lying ahead when permanence of union is denied. The conjugal union is rendered precarious by the very danger of eventual divorce. There is the seed of suspicion full of anxiety. Benevolence and community of interest are deeply weakened by the possibility of separation. Pernicious incitements are offered to infidelity. The birth of children, conservation and education are exposed to the greatest dangers. Occasions of discord between families and relatives are multiplied. The seeds of discord are more plentifully thrown about. Dignity and the functions of woman are shamefully humiliated. There is the most fatal damage to state prosperity. The authority of either the father or the mother is likely to be destroyed. Destroy authority in the family, and you destroy it in the nation.

Let us not weaken these family bonds more than is the case already. If I were to sponsor a motion on this subject these are the words I would use:

That in the opinion of the house the government should take into early and immediate consideration the necessity of setting up a committee of the house to consider the dangerous situation facing our beloved country, a situation due to irresponsible frivolity attached to modern marriage, and try to avoid the destruction of our families, our society and our nation.

Let no one think my stand is the manifestation of a childish fear or of fanaticism. Reason dictates to our mind to come back to common sense. The experience of the world thus far has been too costly. To strengthen our ranks for the ideological fight, we must not undermine the basic cell of our social structure. The family is the novitiate of democracy. Let us keep the holy fire burning at home.

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PC

George Stanley White

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. S. White (Haslings-Pelerborough):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to say a few words in support of this motion. I would point out that it simply suggests the setting up of a committee to consider certain amendments. In every parliament there are arguments for and against a committee; but I doubt if any other matter has stood for such a long time without being reviewed by a committee and brought up to date.

It is not my intention to go over the concise history the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Croll) has given the house covering the law of divorce in England, and how it was applied to Canada, but I should like to stress one point the hon. member brought out. I refer to the report made by the committee of the Canadian Bar Association in 1946. As the hon. member pointed out, that committee was composed of lawyers and judges from every part of Canada, and I should think members of the bench and bar would have complete knowledge of the unsatisfactory basis for our divorce laws in this country. As the hon. member for Spadina indicated, today we had an example of some thirty or forty divorce bills going through the house en bloc.

I realize that this question is one on which members have very decided views. But we must realize, Mr. Speaker, that at the present time in Canada eight provinces have divorce courts, while the citizens of the other two provinces have the right to present a petition to .parliament praying that a statute be passed to dissolve the marriage. That is a right which cannot be taken away from any Canadian citizen. The British North America Act gives the dominion parliament exclusive jurisdiction to legislate on divorce.

Those of us who belong to the legal profession, and who now and then read the evidence presented to the Senate committee, cannot help but be impressed by the similarity of the evidence in many cases. Sometimes the same witness appears in case after case. One hon. member said that the proceedings before the Senate committee were a farce, and the same thing might also be said of some cases that are heard in the Ontario courts. One cannot help but feel that, in many cases heard

Divorce Laws

in the Ontario courts, the evidence is manufactured. It would appear that there are enterprising agents who, for the proper fee, will provide whatever evidence is necessary. I think all hon. members of the house will agree that our divorce laws and the methods of procedure are certainly out of date. I for one feel that divorce actions should be heard by a court. Certainly, the cost of presenting a petition to parliament, plus the cost of printing the evidence, must greatly exceed the cost of a court action. In addition, the evidence in the cases that are presented to the Senate is printed, and must be somewhat more widely circulated than a court action which is only reported in the local press. There is a private bill before the house which proposes that a court be set up to handle all divorce actions. The purpose of the bill is to give the Exchequer Court of Canada the right to hear divorce actions.

One of the grounds which the hon. member has included in the motion is desertion for more than three years. In this connection, Mr. Speaker, I should like to mention a matter which must be within the knowledge of many members of the house who are veterans. It concerns the soldiers of world war II who were married overseas, and at the end of the war returned to Canada. In many cases, their wives refused to come to Canada, while in other cases the wives came to Canada and have since returned overseas. In some instances it is not the intention of the wife to come to Canada to reside with her husband. In the eyes of the law these Canadian veterans are still married men, yet legally they have been deserted by their wives. In considering a divorce, as the legal members of the house know, the matter of jurisdiction and the domicile of the soldier at the time of his marriage are of some importance. I think everyone will agree that the definition of domicile is most difficult and technical. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, this question of desertion for three years should be given careful consideration, if only to bring some measure of relief to a large number of Canadian veterans who find themselves in an intolerable position.

I fully realize that there will be many members of the house who will be opposed to enlarging the grounds for divorce. They will contend that the sanctity of the home should be preserved, and the rights of the children protected. No one is going to disagree with that. But when two people have reached the stage of desiring a divorce, surely it is not going too far to say that the sanctity of the home has long since been destroyed. So far as the children are concerned, if the parents have reached a stage where they cannot live together, I believe it is betler for the children, to live with one parent. The fact

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remains that, in Canada, we have divorce courts in eight provinces, and the citizens of the other two provinces have the right to present a petition to parliament. Is it not both reasonable and sensible to have a committee study our divorce laws and bring them more in line with conditions as they exist in 1950 than as they existed in England in 1870?

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Daniel Mclvor (Fori William):

Mr. Speaker, it is true that the last time a bill of this sort came from the Senate we gave it the six months' hoist. I did not move such a motion this time, because I did not think it would hurt to hear all the arguments on both sides. I have not changed my mind, however, Mr. Speaker. It is difficult for me to understand how a young man who loves his intended companion, and who gets married with the right conception, with his trust in God, could possibly ask for a divorce.

Everyone knows that when a doctor is called into a case the first thing he does is to make a diagnosis, and then prescribe for the patient. The doctor in this case, who is a lawyer, has made a fair diagnosis. I do not think he has given us the cause of divorce, and therefore he will perhaps allow me to aid him in this respect. The great lawgiver or lawyer of his race believed in divorce, but his great teacher afterwards said he granted that divorce because of the hardness of the heart. Men who are cruel and selfish should not have a wife, and it is the same on the other side. If the hon. member will read the divorce laws of that early lawyer, however, and compare them with what he wants, they will be found entirely different. There is no marrying again.

What is the cause of divorce? Selfishness, lack of trust in the Supreme Being, and drunkenness, as the hon. member across the way has shown. When men are intoxicated, they try to say "I did it when I was intoxicated and therefore it should not be held against me." Remove these causes, and there will be less divorce. As you would expect, I have had some experience with young folks who got into difficulty. I have made it well known at the lakehead that when a young couple are in trouble, they should not go to a lawyer or the courts but should consult the family doctor and their spiritual adviser. There are outstanding families in both Fort William and Port Arthur today who were at one time headed for the divorce courts, but they are happy now. It is just as Moses said, it is because of the hardness of their hearts. There is a great work there for the church, Protestant, Catholic, Jew and Gentile, to try to change the hearts of the people. Let the husband and wife give each other the right to think for themselves under all circumstances.

I know that we have an amendment to the marriage law in Ontario. I do not think it will improve the law when they allow magistrates and others to perform the marriage service. I know a magistrate is quite capable, but I think the reason behind it is that a man does not have to recognize God, and unless that is done the home is not going to be what it ought to be.

If we make it too easy to get in and too easy to get out, what will happen? There will be more divorces and more homes broken up. If a man cannot get along with one companion, or if a woman cannot get along with a husband, why break up another couple?

I saw some place the other day that the trouble with some of our marriages is that, when a young couple get invited out to a dance or a beer parlour, the young man has a coupe and a cigarette lighter. He goes and rents a suite. When they are married what happens? They do not know each other. They do not know each other's thinking. They should plan for their home and for those who are coming into the home. If they do that they will not be thinking of divorce.

I think making it easier to get divorce is just leading toward the custom of the country to the south of us. The other day I saw in one of the papers that a wife got a divorce from her husband because he came home late at night and put his cold feet on her. Well, that is just as important as some of these divorce laws. If we have our homes built upon faith in God, and if we practise unselfishness there will be no cause for divorce but there will be happy homes.

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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. W. J. Browne (St. John's West):

Mr. Speaker, I feel that in a way we ought to be grateful to the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Croll) for giving us the opportunity to discuss this subject when there are no pipe lines waiting to be discussed. Therefore we can discuss it without being accused of mock piety, false tears or anything else.

While we might agree with him about the casual way bills of divorce are considered in this house and regard ourselves as silent and uninformed accomplices, I do not think the hon. member left it clear whether his resolution is intended to remove the consideration of divorce cases altogether from parliament and pass them over to the courts, or enlarge the grounds for parliament to consider. I am sure he must realize that parliament can grant a divorce on any ground, or without any ground, and therefore as far as parliament is concerned his resolution has no meaning at all. But I

understand him to mean that generally speaking throughout the country everyone should be entitled to get a divorce in a theoretical manner on those new grounds, in addition to the ground of adultery which is the usual ground advanced in cases coming before us. But I wonder how he intends our interest to be stimulated, or how our consideration is to be any greater, or how we shall be any better informed, or treat those bills in any better way if there are more grounds. There will be more bills of divorce, and I feel that instead of giving more consideration to them we shall give them less.

We have never had any divorce courts or divorce legislation in Newfoundland. It was not permitted under the royal authority setting up our constitution back in 1832, and the amended royal warrant of 1855. The hon. member has given us the history of divorce in England. It is rather interesting to know that it goes back only to 1857. The history of England goes a long time further back than that, which goes to show that England was able to get along up to 1857, at least, without having divorce.

Has the hon. member been really satisfied in his own mind that the happiness of England has been greater since 1857 than it was before that time? He made what I considered to be a serious and false assumption which I am sure he will admit himself. He said: "Can one say that the happiness of the people of the twentieth century in England is any less than the happiness of the people in the nineteenth century?" Well, he has the opportunity to find out. It is easy to make a comparison in the case of those communities where the people are less sophisticated than they are today in the cities.

The hon. member knows that of the applications that come before parliament the great majority of them are from people resident in the city of Montreal or in some other city. In all the courts throughout the country it is quite obvious that the majority of applications come from people who are residing in the great cities, where conditions are such that they lead to situations in which one party or the other feels that he or she has a ground for divorce. If he would consider a community, say, like the province of Prince Edward Island he would find that for many many years there was no divorce there at all. The average in that province is very much less than it would be in a city, say, [DOT]like Montreal or Toronto. Therefore I tell him-and I am sure he will agree-that in Ontario a hundred years ago when people lived less in cities than they do today they lived happier lives, as people in the country everywhere live happier lives.

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I hold in my hand an article which was published in a magazine which says that in the United States today 70 per cent of the population are living in the cities. That is one of the reasons advanced by this writer as the cause of so much divorce. He goes on to give other reasons, such as the fact that there are more women working today-I mean working at jobs that men used to do, and working in association with men more than they did in former times-which creates more temptation and therefore gives more occasion for causes or grounds of divorce to arise.

My hon. friend must also feel that he is on unsafe ground when he makes another assertion. He said he does not believe that enlarging the grounds will increase the number of divorces. He has the experience of the United States to go by. The statistics in the United States in the year 1897 were approximately the same as they are in Canada today, about -5 divorces for every thousand people. What are they in the United States of America today? By 1937, that is in a period of forty years, the figure had jumped to 1-9 divorces, which is four times as great. In 1940 there were eighteen divorces for every one hundred marriages; that is, 18 per cent of the people who were married were being divorced. Well, we have made a little progress in this country since it was started. Before 1900 the number of divorces in Canada was less than 20 per annum. In 1903-1 think the hon. member quoted the figure himself-there were 23 divorces. In 1913, 60 divorces; in 1918, 114 divorces; in 1926, 608 divorces; in 1931, 700 divorces; in 1936, 1,570 divorces; in 1940, 2,369. I now come to 1942. In 1942 there were 3,089 divorces; in 1944, 3,788; in 1945, 5,076; in 1946, 7,683. Now I have to use the hon. member's figures. In 1947, 8,199; in 1948, 6,881 and in 1949, 5,911, a drop. The increase in 1946 and 1947 is probably due to the war marriages which my hon. friend to my right was speaking about. But I think it is recognized that since 1900, a matter of 50 years, an increase from 20 divorces per annum to nearly six thousand, or seven or eight thousand, is an enormous one, and certainly out of all proportion to the increase in population, although we have only one ground for people making an application to parliament. If he opens the door for other causes, surely he is not naive enough to think that there will be less; rather, there will be more divorces.

The hon. member made some rather inconsistent statements. He made some correct statements, but they are inconsistent with his argument. He said, for example, that he believed, he was taught, that marriage was indissoluble. Has he changed his mind on

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that point? It was either indissoluble, or it was not indissoluble. It is a part of our faith -the Catholic faith-and I suppose of my hon. friend's faith, that marriage is indissoluble. We are taught that it is a sacrament, a sacred thing. When the marriage contract is made, when the two people unite and agree to marry each other, for how long do they marry? What is the duration of the contract? Is it to be until one party proves that the other has been cruel or has committed a sin?

I think that sort of sin is the sort of which we might be reminded in this week, which is holy week. We all know the story of Mary Magdalen; and I hope I shall not be considered as preaching if I refer to the story of the woman who was taken in adultery, and whose accusers went away from her one by one. Not one of them would dare face our Lord when He read their secret sins.

My hon. friend knows that when the British parliament, in its wisdom, decided that it would place the sexes on equal grounds, it could not place them on equal grounds. My hon. friend knows that-because a man can get away with things which sometimes a woman cannot get away with.

And is it not also appropriate in holy week to draw attention to another bible story, the story of the prodigal son? What was the attitude of the father to his son who had gone away and wasted his substance in riotous living? The father took the fatted calf and killed it. Does my hon. friend believe in that bible story, and its moral-that we should forgive? Should the love of a father for his son be greater than that of a husband for his wife, or of that of a wife for her husband?

My hon. friend, I am sure, will agree that the story of the prodigal son is an example of charity which has been held up to us for two thousand years. Surely we are justified in considering that that is a proper ground for us to act upon, to imitate and from which to copy our conduct.

Then, is it mockery when Mr. Speaker each day reads the Lord's prayer in which we find the plea: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

I am sure all hon. members, if they will give consideration to this question on these grounds, will agree that there can be no justification for divorce. My hon. friend has said that the family is the fundamental unit of society. Of course it is. Then, why try to break it up? Why make it easier to have that unit disrupted? Why should he not try, as he suggested himself, to get school, church, family and social organizations to co-operate to prevent divorces? Why does he not recommend that we give consideration to the setting up of some kind of committee which would

co-operate with these organizations with a view to strengthening family life, and to make it better?

If it means so much, why do we not try to make it better, instead of trying to make it possible for it to become worse? Because the experience in other countries, where all these grounds for divorce exist, proves to us beyond any reasonable doubt that it is going to cause more heartaches, more broken homes, more unhappy people and more neglected children than we have at the present time.

My hon. friend has quoted a resolution of the Canadian Bar Association. Well, at the last session we were treated to a speech by the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) in which he referred to a Canadian Bar Association meeting he had attended. I would not begin to say that the circumstances he described actually obtained in '1946. But my hon. friend knows that a great many of these resolutions are brought up at meetings and are passed in a fashion somewhat similar to that in which we pass divorce bills-without proper consideration.

I do not think the Canadian Bar Association in its meeting at Banff, during two or three days, or at some other luxurious residential or tourist locality, is a proper setting for the consideration of something that affects the whole human race. I do not think they could give it ample consideration, along with the many other difficult legal problems they would consider.

Further, I do not say that this is a wholly legal problem, or a problem which should be considered merely from the legal or constitutional angle. I say it should be considered from the humane standpoint, from the standpoint of the welfare of humanity and of society.

I come to a specific reference of my hon. friend in his resolution, his reference to cruelty. Well, a very celebrated clergyman of the United States, one who is also well known in this country, Father Daniel A. Lord of St. Louis, a Jesuit, for years kept clippings on divorce, respecting people who were divorced. After keeping those clippings for years he finally wrote a small pamphlet which is called "Divorce, A Picture from the Headlines".

Here are some of the reasons for divorce in the United States that he discovered. Once you open the door to cruelty, where do you draw the line? What is the borderline? Unfortunately, once cruelty is alleged, it is difficult to say where the borderline is to be drawn. Which would you prefer: to have a wife who sometimes gives you a slap in the face, or one who nags all day long? I do not

know what my hon. friend would prefer, but most men find nagging pretty hard to bear.

Here are some of the reasons given to the courts when divorces have been sought and granted:

She took an hour and a half to make up her face.

He worked nights and thus spoiled her social life.

He was a vegetarian and upset her diet.

Because he was of English ancestry and she of Italian, he gloated over her.

He came to breakfast dressed in long underwear.

He insisted on telling jokes in bed.

And so on, and so on-innumerable things. A final one:

She bought a gentleman friend a set of false teeth.

We all know from reading the newspapers that ridiculous grounds of that kind are given. We read about ridiculous excuses such as I have referred to, excuses which have been advanced and often upheld. Unfortunately some of our people, perhaps some from Quebec, and also some from Newfoundland, have travelled to Reno only to offer some reason like that for securing a divorce.

Then my hon. friend gives desertion as his next ground, and in that he was supported, I believe, by the hon. member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. White). He referred to the soldiers who deserted their wives, or whose wives had deserted them and had gone back to live in Scotland.

Is the case of desertion so easy to prove? How does my hon. friend intend to prove it? What would happen if mistakes were made, as they could be, in respect of soldiers going overseas in the second world war, leaving their wives behind, receiving injury on the battlefield, perhaps remaining in hospitals in a country with the language of which they are not familiar-perhaps a prisoner, or one who for the time being has lost his memory? Would he then have to resort to insanity? What steps would he take in a question like that?

One can easily see the difficulty. I would suggest that the causes of desertion would not be half as common as they are if, at dominion-provincial conferences which have been held in the past, those in authority had brought up the idea of making separation orders passed in one province enforceable in another.

I believe that is a good suggestion, because sometimes a man would desert his wife and go to live with someone else in another province. If this suggestion were followed the law could get at them. At the present time the law of the province in which the man resides does not affect him. A separation order may be made, and an order issued for the husband to pay so much; but it cannot be enforced. I suggest that is a subject which might well be placed before the next

55946-102;

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dominion-provincial conference, so that if an order were made in one province it would be recognized in another. I should like the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) to make a note of that because I am sure he will agree that this is a serious situation, quite apart from the question of divorce. Men do leave their wives and go away and refuse to send money for their support and these provincial orders should be capable of enforcement.

My hon. friend gives as another reason for divorce the existence of an incurable mental disease for five years. When is a disease incurable? Is my hon. friend aware of the recent developments in medical science by which people who have been in insane asylums for twenty years have been cured? This ground would fall also. What can he say about the advance that might be made in medical science in the next five, ten or fifteen years? When it is found that medical science can cure mental diseases as it has cured other diseases in the past, it would be a simple matter to bring in a law to alter the provision he has here and make the marriage good again. That is not the way we should be talking about marriage.

I could not help feeling a little amused when my hon. friend spoke so sadly about a bad marriage, about getting a decent divorce with clean hands on honest grounds. The hon. gentleman is too sophisticated not to understand that probably ninety-nine per cent of the divorces that are undefended are likely brought about by collusion. The very fact that they are undefended makes one suspicious about there being collusion to get a divorce. I have seen it stated that seventy per cent of the divorces granted in the United States are obtained through collusion. There is no provision in this country as there was in England for a king's proctor to go around to see that the man or woman who had obtained a divorce had not married the co-respondent or somebody else with whom he or she had been flirting before the application for divorce was made.

My hon. friend also said that the courts and the law society were doing their best. I do not know what my hon. friend meant by that. Is not the Senate working overtime passing these divorce bills? They are doing their best to grant divorces, but they are not doing their best for society. Members of the law society charge $500 to handle these cases. Are they doing their best-

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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

I said that they were doing their best to smell out fraud.

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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (Si. John's West):

I do not think my hon. friend gave any evidence to justify that assertion. There are a few more observations I should like to make on this important

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matter. It is difficult to look at divorce as objectively as we should. My hon. friend speaks quite easily about unmarrying people. People who have been married are going to be divorced, but by whom? Who gave us authority to say that a marriage is no longer good? Who gave my hon. friend or who gave me the authority to say that? I would not dare say that a marriage was not good, even though the parties had committed the offences referred to in the petition.

It will be said that this comes to us through the British North America Act of 1867 which was passed by a British parliament. Where did the British parliament get the authority to say that a marriage once good should be broken or declared to be no longer in existence? They gave themselves the authority. As I said during the last discussion on this matter, we were taught that the British parliament, and I suppose this parliament, seeing that it is copied from the other one, can do everything but make a man a woman or a woman a man.

In my opinion there are certain things the British parliament cannot do. Neither the British parliament nor this parliament can make a wrong right. They cannot do that. If it is morally wrong and spiritually wrong, we cannot do it, and they cannot do it over there. They cannot give us the authority to do it.

For various reasons there is great reluctance on the part of most hon. members to take part in a discussion of this kind. Nobody wishes to preach or lecture or set himself up as being better than anyone else. However, I have been associated for a long time with cases of domestic infelicity and I have been able to talk to husbands and wives about their difficulties. From an experience of fifteen years I have found out what can be done by talking to these people. I do not say it is successful in all cases, but in many cases a lot can be done by giving proper'advice. I do not say that I always gave the proper advice, but I tried. In support of that I should like to quote the Catholic Digest for February, 1950, where there is an article entitled "Divorcees Anonymous". I imagine most hon. members have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, the organization which is doing such a wonderful social work of salvation on this continent, saving people who have been addicted to drink. Those who have recovered from this addiction to drink have banded together to help others to recover.

Now they have started Divorcees Anonymous. Those who have been divorced are helping those who are looking for divorce to try to get their marriages back on the tracks.

This articles refers to Mr. Starr, an attorney in Chicago, who has handled more than three thousand cases in the last fifteen years. The article reads:

He knows at first hand the ruin and regret that divorce leaves in its wake. As a result, when angry couples come to him, he does everything he can to get them to settle their differences. He has helped bring about countless reconciliations.

"Almost everyone who gets a divorce regrets it afterwards," he said. "In at least nine cases out of ten they're sorry they didn't stick together and try to make a go of it."

That is the experience of this man who has had so much to do with divorces in Chicago. And his experience would seem to indicate that divorces do not seem to make people happy. Further in support of that I should like to quote another authority who may be better known than Mr. Starr. I refer to Dorothy Dix, the well-known columnist who has appeared in the daily press for many years. She is quoted by Father Lord in this little booklet as saying:

At the bottom of nine-tenths of the divorces is the superstitious belief . . . that there is some magic in a decree absolute that will restore youth and beauty and make the (divorced people) . . . lighthearted boys and girls again. Most husbands and wives who break up their homes do not do it because of intolerable wrongs . . . they do it because they are bored with each other; because they are fed up on the dull round of domesticity; because they are sick and tired of listening to the children's noise and fights; but mainly because they have begun to have nostalgia for the days when they were sweet-and-twenty . . .

They fool themselves into thinking that if they could break that tie that binds them . . . some miracle would make their paunchy figures grow slim, cause wavy locks to appear on those bald spots, and restore their complexions. They would be automatically infused with new pep, and the come-hither look would return to their tired eyes. Of course no such transformation takes place.

Of all disillusioning human experiences, divorce is the worst. For it rarely brings to its participants the happiness they had hoped to get. It is only the most callous who can feast and make merry amidst the wreck of the home they have pulled down; and deaf indeed must be the ears that can shut out the sound of little children's weeping in the night for the father or the mother they have lost.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Mitchell:

Does the hon. member know that the lady he is quoting is a divorcee herself?

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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

That shows that she knows what she is talking about.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

He has got

you there.

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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

My hon. friend also reminded us of what marriage was. In the Catholic church-and I speak as a Catholic-it is a union of two people until death do them part; but if conditions arise, as they sometimes do, that make it

impossible for them to live together, if the husband is so cruel that the wife cannot stand living with him, she does not have to live with him. There are many women who are never married at all who seem to get along all right and lead happy lives. Where women have their children they can lead very happy lives. Many widows are doing it. Therefore it would not be an outrageous request to ask them, if their husbands are cruel to them, not to live with them. They can go and live by themselves and the husbands will be made to support them if they are able to.

The hon. member speaks about the fulfilment of the main purpose of marriage, the procreation of children, but it is a spiritual union first of all, and it has been celebrated with great ceremony in Christian homes. Sometimes there may be too great a splash. I have known of cases where the husband forgot to pay for the flowers that he sent to the bridesmaids. A marriage that starts off on that rather materialistic basis is not likely to be very successful. What I should like to see, as has been mentioned in the press-and I believe it has taken place in the province of Quebec

is more of those institutions which we call pre-Cana conferences where groups of young couples who are engaged to be married go to their clergyman and receive instruction in what marriage really means from someone who is able to explain it to them. I believe these things do good.

There are many features that make married life difficult. I am quite prepared to admit that is the case in modern times. Particularly in the United States, where children receive no religious instruction in the schools, where they do not go to church, where they get no religious instruction at home, marriage is not really a spiritual thing with them at all. Marriage for them is a purely materialistic matter, and it seems to me it is very difficult to expect that marriages of that kind are going to t*e happy. On the first pretext one or the other is likely to look for a divorce. Where the institution of marriage is regarded as a sacrament, as it is by us, and is surrounded with an aura of sanctity from the beginning, then, as the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Mclvor) said, people make an effort to make their married life successful, and I believe it will be successful despite the difficulties they have.

Speaking as a married man, I know that married life has many difficulties. As every married man knows, there are many times when the husband and wife will quarrel and things look pretty bad. Nevertheless I believe

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that, if we have the fundamental intention of making it right and the belief that it is to endure forever, reconciliations will quickly take place.

The hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Gauthier) spoke of the Russian experience. I am sure that the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Croll) is acquainted with that from his reading. In Russia marriage was treated at first as a bourgeois custom, and the policy was to belittle the institution of marriage. Marriages could take place anywhere, not only in a registry but in a stable or cellar. They attempted to treat marriage as lightly as possible,- and divorces could be obtained by one party writing a postcard. They found out that hundreds of thousands of poor children were left neglected to roam the streets like dogs. They had to make some change. Since then they have altered the conditions of marriage so that people have to be married now with much more ceremony than they had at the beginning, and divorces are extremely hard to get.

Only a day or two ago we read of the Polish communist government making stricter conditions about marriage than existed before communism took over. Therefore it will be seen that even in such communities they recognize they cannot get along without the family. In our country, as in the United States, it seems to me we are likely to create serious conditions that will be prejudicial to the best interests of the people of Canada if we open the door any farther. My hon. friend spoke about marrying in haste. Marry in haste and repent at leisure used to be the motto, but now it seems to be marry in haste, repent quickly and get married again. In the United States there are cases of people who have been married three, four, five, ten, and even as many as twenty-three times. Sometimes the same people have been married again and divorced again. They should have a degree such as "M.A.", married again. I think I have probably taken up too much of the time of the house.

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?

An hon. Member:

Hear, hear.

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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

Someone says "hear, hear", but I make no apology for doing so because the matter is so serious. The only apology I make is that I am afraid I was not able to deal with the subject as it should be dealt with. I feel that we should not be affected by the hardships that might occur in a very small percentage of families representing a very small percentage of the total population. We are concerned with the overwhelming majority of the people of the

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country. The damage that would accrue as a result of accepting the hon. member's resolution would be far more serious than the damage caused by the present conditions.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. M. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to take part in this debate, but I should like to say a word or two. First of all I should like to say that I do not think we should begrudge the hon. member for St. John's West (Mr. Browne) the time he has taken because I think he has said things that we should all consider very seriously indeed. I do not find myself able to go the full length that he goes because I believe there are grounds upon which divorces should be granted, but I do not believe they are contained in the resolution of the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Croll), and I am very sorry to see it come before the house.

It seems to me there are two or three things that can be said with which we will all agree. They are obvious enough, and yet when I hear the hon. member talk about a decent divorce-and I think I know what he means by that and that there are decent divorces- nevertheless the very phrase seems to me to indicate that we are getting into a frame of mind where divorce is to be regarded as just an ordinary incident of life. I should like to say, and I believe every hon. member will agree, that the growth of divorce in the community is equivalent to the deterioration of society. Thoughtful people everywhere in the United States today are greatly alarmed by it, and I am glad to see that such a widely read magazine as the Saturday Evening Post is conducting a sensible and thoughtful series of articles along the lines suggested by the hon. member for St. John's West, trying to educate people and to convince them that just because they happen to step out of the wrong side of the bed in the morning that is no ground for rushing off to get a divorce. I agree with what the hon. member for St. John's West said about the perfectly ludicrous use of the ground of cruelty. I think we have all read enough to know that it easily becomes fantastic and ridiculous. I am sorry that this ground should have been introduced by a serious member such as the hon. member for Spadina because it seems to me it is capable of gross and even of humorous miscarriages, as my friend has said.

There is one other thing that bothers me, or I should say one thing that enters into this. It seems to me that marriage is made much too easy, that people rush into it with little consideration. I am not prepared to say here and now just what hsould be done, but it

seems to me it might be possible to make it a much graver matter, to make the ceremony itself much more formal. I once attended a Russian wedding that took place here. It lasted about an hour, and I am told that in Russia in the old days weddings lasted about three hours. I have a feeling that if it took three hours to get married, young people would not enter into marriage so lightly as they do now. That was a formidable ceremony; and I believe fewer marriages would go wrong if those concerned had to spend three hours considering them, instead of rushing into marriage headlong.

I do not wish to take further time except to say that it seems to me we should realize that when we are talking about this we are discussing one of the very foundations of society. You cannot pick up any serious United States publication without realizing that; and I certainly hope this house will stop, look and listen.

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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. W. F. Carroll (Inverness-Richmond):

Mr. Speaker, I did not intend to participate in this debate, and perhaps the few words I have to say can hardly be called participation. I do not think I would have said anything at all but for the statement for one hon. member that it is time to bring our divorce laws up to date. That is a new one on me. Even if they were brought up to the position of divorce laws in the United States today, that might not be sufficiently up to date. In the end it might be necessary to put something in the marriage contract providing that whenever the man or woman wants a divorce or separation or annulment of the contract, he or she may have it. No doubt that would be bringing the law right up to date.

I do not believe in divorce. I said something in this connection previously in this house, which was perhaps misunderstood. I have tried divorce cases and have granted divorces in Nova Scotia because I thought it was my responsibility to do so. That does not mean I believe in divorce, or that I intend to vote for this resolution, which after all is a sort of nebulous thing. Any hon. member of this house who might be appointed to this committee, if it were set up, knows as much about the subject matter of this resolution now as he could possibly learn in any committee. I do not want to charge the courageous gentleman from Spadina (Mr. Croll) with being a coward, but I think it is showing a little cowardice when he suggests a committee instead of introducing a bill embodying these various amendments, because we are not going to learn anything from a committee that we do not know now.

Apart altogether from the religious aspect, divorce is the annulment or breaking of a contract. Who ever heard of a contract coming to an end because a party to it became insane? If he were insane in the first place he could not enter into a contract; but who ever heard of a contract being terminated because one party to it became insane, or who ever heard of the other party to the contract having a right to end it? Or who ever heard that because a person who had entered into a solemn contract ran away and deserted the people for whom he was responsible he was thereby relieved of responsibility? As far as the legal presumption of death is concerned, how long should the period be? I believe there is now on the statute books of this country a provision that if a person is absent from his usual surroundings for seven years he may be presumed for certain purposes to be dead. If he has a wife, at the end of that time she is entitled to marry again, and no charge of bigamy may be brought against her.

I have no quarrel at all with the statement by the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Mclvor) that the cause of divorce is selfishness, largely due to un-Christian habits. I agree further that a great many of our divorces result from hasty marriages. If the licence laws of the various provinces increased the period between the application for the marriage licence and the granting of that licence, there would not be so many divorces. There are too many hasty marriages. After all, are we here to make laws for people who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances? Are we here to relieve people who have made mistakes? Or are we here to make laws for the common good? Who in this chamber today will say that to extend the grounds for divorce would be for the common good?

As far as present divorce laws are concerned, there is some biblical ground for them. Under the old law a man was justified in sending away his wife if she was guilty of adultery. Just how much that law is subject to the even older.law, "What God hath joined together let no man put asunder" is a matter of some considerable controversy, and I am not going to discuss that point at all. Marriage is a solemn contract; there is no doubt about that. It is "until death do us part," in every form of religious marriage in this country. A person who enters into that solemn contract or obligation should not be relieved of it for anything less than ad>'Very. in any case.

Personally I believe that if adultery were ma >

:i rrime in this country we would not

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have so many divorces. I do not suppose it is news to many hon. members that adultery is a crime in New Brunswick, and has been ever since before confederation. After all, practically every crime in this country today goes back to the ten commandments of God. "Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery." If instead of sending this resolution to a committee, as my hon. friend desires, this parliament passed a law making adultery a criminal offence I think it would have a great effect in lessening the number of divorces in this country.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not opposing this measure on grounds of religious scruples alone. I would say it is unnecessary for me, as a member of this parliament, to oppose this resolution because I am a Catholic and believe that marriage is a sacramental contract. I believe it would be a bad thing for the general public of this Canada of ours that we all love, and that we all like to see making progress, not only materially but from a Christian standpoint. It would be a bad thing if the grounds for divorce were extended. So far as desertion is concerned, and diseased minds, if they were made grounds it would simply add to the measure of connivance that goes on in divorce today on the grounds of adultery.

I would say this is not for the public good, and we are here to legislate for the public good. We are not here to legislate people out of their difficulties or their troubles. There are methods of helping those people, especially the deserted wives. We are not here to help people out of their misfortunes, brought on by their own selfishness and their own greed. I say on that ground, and that ground alone, I will oppose this resolution to appoint a committee to deal with the subject matter of the motion.

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LIB
LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

If the hon. member speaks now, he will close the debate.

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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. David A. Croll (Spadina):

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of putting the resolution on the order paper was to obtain a cross-section of the views of the house. We have been able to do that. My friend the hon. member for Inverness-Richmond (Mr. Carroll) may accuse me of cowardice in not forcing a vote, but it was never my intention to force a vote on this matter. It was premature to present a bill until the subject had been canvassed in the house. With the permission of the house, I should like to withdraw the motion.

Motion withdrawn.

Business of the House BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

On Monday, April 17, it being private members' day, we shall follow the rules set out in standing order No. 15. On Tuesday, government day, we would like to move to go into supply and call three new departments. We do not believe this will take very long. Then, we would take up the resolutions to set up the different committees. If time is left, we will proceed with certain resolutions which are the bases of bills.

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April 5, 1950