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The Green Party Hastily Deleted a Policy that Criticized Letting Wives Unilaterally Divorce Their Husbands

The Greens deleted their policy after accusations it was inspired by men's rights activists.

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As parties argue over a cancelled women's issues debate and the Finance Minister cancels an event at a men's only club, the Green Party of Canada is facing its own controversy, this one involving ties to the men's rights movement.

Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The party's webpage hosted a long, detailed policy page titled "Reforming the Divorce Act." Though the policy did not explicitly advocate for fathers' rights, it did echo several of the tenets of the fathers' rights movement.

It was heavily critical of the "no fault" divorce policy introduced in Canada in 1986. This change to the Divorce Act allowed people to separate from their spouse without having to prove wrongdoing. Before that, a person would have to show evidence of acts such as adultery or psychological abuse to win a divorce.

The Green policy said this change was well-meaning but destructive, and now Canadians are wary of the "many shortcomings and the unintended consequences of unilateral divorce."

The policy listed a series of attacks against current divorce laws.

"Children are at risk of being isolated from one parent as well as grandparents... 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," the policy read.

The policy concluded by calling for Canada to overhaul its divorce laws and adopt the "equal parenting" principle in custody battles.

This principle would set 50/50 custody as the default result of divorce settlements, as opposed to the current system which gives judges more discretion based on "the best interests of the child."

Groups like Fathers 4 Justice Canada have called for this policy. Others argue this puts the wishes of parents above best interests of the children.

Men's rights groups are typically at odds with feminist groups and the left-wing bases of parties like the Greens. When the page was raised on Twitter this week, users accused the party of having a divorce policy based on MRA ideology.

"The unintended consequences of unilateral divorce" is MRA speak for "we're angry wives can leave us without our permission"

.@ElizabethMay but if these are the starting assumptions about the problems we need to solve, it *is* an MRA policy. http://t.co/yCtAwv2Mmy

Now, do I vote for the party that runs MRA candidates or the party that supported C51?

Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the party slashed its policy statement down by more than half - from 616 words to 299 words.

"It certainly doesn't reflect what the party believes in," said party spokesman Julian Morelli.

"Unfortunately that was an error, and it was fixed.

Morelli said the party was grateful to the public for raising the issue so they could correct it. He said he did not know how the policy was developed or how it came to be put on the party's website.

It's not clear how long the policy was online. The only archived snapshot of the old policy is from earlier this month, on August 7.

The party erased sections condemning no fault divorce laws and the section calling for an equal parenting system. They also removed claims of rampant false allegations.

The new policy emphasizes that the best interests of the children to be at the core of settlements. But it still calls for current laws to be changed.

The revamped policy says the court system is dysfunctional (which is shortened from the original wording of "dysfunctional and arbitrary") and is eroding "the very fabric of Canada."

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