Yesterday, federal Minister of Justice David Lametti addressed the joint conference of the OAFM and OCLF (Ontario Association for Family Mediation and the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation). He spoke of the key provisions of the proposed new Divorce Act, and the promise of meaningful improvement for Canadians.
Over the past few months, my research into my role as President of the local chapter has brought me into contact with records of committee work done in the past by the Ottawa chapter of the Ontario Association for Family Mediation. From this, I came to realize that meaningful change takes commitment and dedication. Thankfully, we have that in the OAFM.
In the 1990s, the chapter struck a committee to formulate a joint response from the local mediation committee to the 1993 federal Department of Justice document called “Custody and Access: Public Discussion Paper”.
This was the beginning of the very lengthy process to help the Government of Canada understand recommended changes to the Divorce Act. Their work informed the current Bill C-78, an Act to amend the Divorce Act. During subsequent hearings of the Special Joint Parliamentary and Senate Committee on Custody and Access in 1997-1998, the legal and mediation community (along with other professionals, various community groups and members of the public) had additional opportunities to provide input on the need for dispute resolution avenues other than family court.
In defining work, physicists say “power equals strength over time.” Today I want to recognize the hard work and the determination of these current and previous OAFM Ottawa chapter members who literally laid the foundation in the last millennium … for a new proposed Divorce Act which, if passed, will codify the importance of mediation! And it codifies many of the other ideas which were first championed by so many OAFM Ottawa members, many years ago.
It is a tribute to the dedication and staying-power of the Ottawa Chapter of the OAFM. And a tribute to what teamwork can accomplish. I thank these trailblazers.
I also want to recognize and thank the provincial-level executive for their support of the idea of letting me bring the federal Minister of Justice to this year’s joint conference to meet the OAFM personally. And remind us all of how important our work is. I hope it was as exciting for you as it was for me.
My hope — for all of us — is that, should Bill C-78 receive Royal Assent, the Minister of Justice of Canada will want to remind all Canadian citizens of the professionalism and leadership of the OAFM and the OCLF.
President, Ontario Association for Family Mediation (Ottawa Chapter)
Ontario Association for Family Mediation