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Getting divorced becomes easier in Canada

The Story


[audio: silent for first 30 seconds] It's 1968 and Canada is at the height of a sexual revolution. The country has a new bachelor prime minister who has no problem identifying with the free loving era. As a result, Pierre Trudeau loosens the laws around homosexuality, abortion and divorce. Today, a new divorce law passes making it easier for couples to break the knot. Adultery is no longer the only grounds for getting a divorce in Canada. A list of other reasons are added, one of which is three years of separation. Courts across the country deal with a divorce rush. Masses of people line up to file their papers on the first day the Divorce Act takes effect. In Ontario, one woman has finally been vindicated. Without proof of adultery, she's been waiting 38 years to hand in her documents. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: July 2, 1968
Duration: 1:06
Technical note: Audio is silent for first 30 seconds.

Did You know?


• Under the Divorce Act of 1968, people no longer had to appear in court and adultery wasn't the only grounds for getting a divorce. New reasons included: mental or physical cruelty, desertion, separation or having an imprisoned spouse.
• Legal separation is when a couple remains married but lives in separate residences.
• The lawyer in this TV clip says the new act makes divorce legal after five years of separation. This is true, but not the whole story: under the new act, you could get a divorce after three years of separation if there was mutual consent or if the person petitioning the divorce has been deserted for three years. If there wasn't mutual consent or the person petitioning the divorce was the deserter, it would take five years of separation.
• Before he became prime minister, Trudeau called for amendments to Canada's Criminal Code. In 1967, he introduced an omnibus bill that sought to change the archaic laws governing divorce, homosexuality and abortion.
• Watch a famous CBC Television clip where Trudeau explains: "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."


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