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Why is Kathleen Wynne stalling on LGBT parenting bill?

Ontario gov’t afraid deadbeat dads will pretend to be sperm donors

NDP MPPs Catherine Fife, Andrea Horwath and Cheri DiNovo speak at the Pride flag–raising outside the Ontario legislature on June 1, 2016. Credit: Arshy Mann/Daily Xtra

Since Cy and Ruby’s Act passed second reading last year, the Ontario government has been silent over why the bill has stalled in the legislature.

Even after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that the government will introduce their own equal parenting legislation in the fall, there’s been no explanation over why her Liberal majority didn’t simply pass Cy and Ruby’s Act.

Now we have an answer.

The government believes that Cy and Ruby’s Act might create a loophole that would allow fathers who want to evade their parental responsibilities to claim they were a sperm donor.

“It also creates a situation where a biological father could avoid his parental responsibilities under the law if he refuses to acknowledge he has fathered a child,” reads a statement from the attorney general’s office to Daily Xtra. “This could result in single moms not being able to enforce rights against a biological father for things like child support.”

“It’s absolute nonsense,” responds NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, who introduced Cy and Ruby’s Act. “No Ontario judge would ever accept that from a heterosexual man who was a father and just evading financial support for his children.”

(Families rally on behalf of Cy and Ruby’s Act at the Pride flag–raising outside of Queen’s Park on June 1, 2016./Arshy Mann/Daily Xtra)

DiNovo claims that this is simply a stalling tactic so that the government can take credit for the legislation.

“I think the motivation for delaying it is simply so they can claim that it’s their bill,” she says.

The attorney general’s office states that the current bill “would require too much revision and restructuring to be workable.”

But DiNovo disputes that. Even if the government wanted to introduce protections to ensure that heterosexual men can’t misuse the new law, she says that issue could’ve been easily dealt with in committee.

“It could have been cleared up in a half an hour,” she says. “If that was their only reason for not wanting to move ahead with this, then we would’ve been happy to make that amendment.”

DiNovo says that the government has never raised this concern with her, even though she’s continuously prodded them for feedback.

“If that was their objection, why didn’t they raise it at the beginning,” she says. “We’ve asked, we’ve bugged them, tell us what should we be doing, let’s talk, let’s make amendments.”

Wynne’s government has come under fire from parents and from the NDP for waiting so long to address the issue of equal parenting.

“It our humble opinion that there is no need to wait until the end of this year when legislation was in this house at the end of last year,” NDP leader Andrea Horwath said at the Queen’s Park Pride flag–raising on June 1, 2016.

“I was surprised that they think that it’s necessary to start from scratch with brand new legislation,” Jennifer Mathers McHenry, one of the women behind Cy and Ruby’s Act, told Daily Xtra. “We put forward a good bill that was put forward seven months ago and a lot of babies have been born in limbo in the meantime.”

Mathers McHenry hopes that any new legislation won’t water down protections for trans parents or multi-parent families.

“We’re not looking to create new parents, we’re looking to recognize the ones that exist,” she says.

Despite this, both DiNovo and Mathers McHenry have committed to working with the government on the new legislation.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” says Mathers McHenry.