Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Politicians Must Adjust to Canada's New 'Family Values'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Politicians Must Adjust to Canada's New 'Family Values'

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Politicians must adjust to Canada's new 'family values'

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Sept. 19:

Politicians, right across the ideological spectrum, love to talk about families - usually "hard-working families" who will benefit from their favourite policy scheme. "Strong families help to build a strong Canada," Stephen Harper declared in a typical flourish during the 2011 election campaign as he introduced the Conservatives' latest bauble for "families" - a tax credit for kids in arts programs.

Now, as Statistics Canada makes abundantly clear in its latest census report, the cherished "typical family" is more myth than reality. Instead of Mom, Dad and the kids, we have a complex array of domestic arrangements that all qualify as family: stepfamilies, complex stepfamilies, same-sex families, even "skip-generation" families. And, oh yes, "intact families" - the dwindling minority of old-style married couples with kids at home.

Today the most typical family is a couple with no children at home. And for the first time there are more one-person households than there are couples with kids.

All this has big implications for how we govern ourselves, and who we choose to govern us.The Harper Conservatives have targeted traditional families in the last three elections, offering tax breaks for kids in sports and leisure programs, and income-sharing. That fitted well with their "family values" vision of Canada, but it sounds increasingly off-key when couples with children make up just 26.5 per cent of homes.

There are more common-law couples, more single-parent families, more blended families, and way more same-sex couples and families than in 2006, when the last census numbers came out. …

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