Law Reform Advocacy in Action

Introduction

In this module, we explore Bill C-78 as an example of feminist law reform advocacy in action, by walking through the process from beginning to end.

The module features the discussion paper that was circulated during consultations with feminist and equality-seeking organizations across the country in 2018. It also unpacks how the discussion paper and consultations fueled the formation of the Bill C-78 coalition and informed the brief that was submitted by NAWL and Luke's Place to the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

When Bill C-78 ultimately moved from the House of Commons to the Senate in 2019, it became apparent that this collective effort was impacting the legislative process—which was illustrated by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs citing the NAWL and Luke's Place Brief in their concluding observations.

Days later, women's rights groups celebrated changes to the federal Divorce Act, after decades of collective advocacy efforts and engagement in the law reform process.

Read

Bill C-78 Discussion Paper

National Association of Women and the Law and Luke's Place


Bill C-78 Brief

National Association of Women and the Law and Luke's Place


Observations to the thirty-fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-78)

Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs


After decades of waiting, women’s rights organizations celebrate changes to the Divorce Act

National Association of Women and the Law


Watch

In 2018, thirty-one feminist and equality-seeking groups from across the country came together to endorse the NAWL and Luke's Place brief on Bill C-78An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act. Pamela Cross discusses the formation and success of the Bill C-78 coalition led by NAWL and Luke's Place.

Listen

Shalini Konanur and Silmy Abdullah appearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-78

South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO)

On behalf of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO),  Shalini Konanur (Executive Director) and Silmy Abdullah (Staff Lawyer) appearing before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-78 on November 19, 2018 (Meeting No. 119).

Bill C-78 (An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act) received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.

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No translation available:15 minutes

Pamela Cross appearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-78

Luke's Place

Pamela Cross of Luke's Place Support and Resource Centre for Women and Children appearing before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-78 on November 21, 2018 (Meeting No. 120).

Bill C-78 (An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act) received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.

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No translation available:15 minutes

Elba Bendo appearing before the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-78

West Coast LEAF

Elba Bendo, West Coast LEAF's Director of Law Reform, appearing before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-78 on November 21, 2018 (Meeting No. 120).

Bill C-78 (An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act) received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.

No translation available:2018-11-21
No translation available:5 minutes

Kim Hawkins appearing before the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-78

Rise Women's Legal Centre

Kim Hawkins, Executive Director of Rise Women's Legal Centre, appearing before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-78 on November 21, 2018 (Meeting No. 120).

Bill C-78 (An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act) received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.

No translation available:2018-11-21
No translation available:5 minutes

Watch

Women's rights groups appearing before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in June 2019

Engage & Discuss

What are some feminist law reform matters that should be a priority for the federal government? 

Make a plan to begin advocating for feminist law reform on a specific topic. Start by doing some research, then think about your next steps. Who should you contact? What strategies or methods would be most effective? How might you leverage different media? How will you include GBA+ ? Focus on the steps you or your organization are less familiar with. 

What are some other examples of successful feminist law reform you can use as inspiration? 

Additional Resources

Advocacy and Social Justice: Measuring Impact

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

A monitoring, evaluation and learning guide on legal advocacy

Feminist Organizing Toolkit: Planning Virtual Meetings

Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) and Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF)

In late March 2020, as countries around the world began to implement social distancing measures to protect public health in the face of COVID-19, it became clear that feminists must be equipped with tools for unprecedented levels of virtual organizing. Though we may not be able to gather together around tables or in the streets in the same way for the next few months, the work of advocating for a just recovery and resisting repressive responses must continue virtually. As feminists, we must find ways to build power together online.