Tax Time highlights Québec’s obscene hypocrisy

by Jack Locke

It’s 1992. A young 17-year old girl is swept off her feet by a globe-trotting Canadian man. Over time they have three children, she tries to start a career, only to be caught up in motherhood and a dissolving relationship. The love crashes and the young woman seeks support from her wealthy ex-partner. He objects to paying her alimony and it goes to court.

In court she is known as “A,” he is “B.” The Government of Québec sides with Mister “B.”

Québec argues before the Supreme Court of Canada that its Civil Code differentiates between officially-sanctioned spouses and common-law spouses when a question of alimony is at issue.

However, when it comes to income tax, the Government of Québec makes it very clear that official spouses and common-law spouses are to be considered the same. Equal.

For asserting two different positions, the Government of Québec should be ashamed. Before the Supreme Court of Canada (in this case known as Québec v. A) the Government of Québec argued that the woman was not entitled to spousal support because she was not in an official relationship and not protected by the Civil Code.

Article 585 of the Civil Code provision says: “Married or civil union spouses, and relatives in the direct line in the first degree, owe each other support.”

And Québec had the audacity to argue that a spouse in a long-term conjugal relationship has no rights to financial support.

In the rest of Canada, married spouses and common-law spouses are considered equal under the law. This is an interpretation that protects the poorer spouse in a relationship. It is inconceivable that the Government of Québec would argue that the Civil Code differentiates between officially sanctioned and conjugal relationships. Especially when it comes down to preventing catastrophic impoverishment.

Yet, Québec tax law says precisely the opposite. The definition of a spouse under section 2.2.1 of Québec’s Taxation Act, states that officially married, civil union, and common-law/conjugal relationships are equal. They are all considered the same under the taxation law, provided the common-law partners have been together for 1 year.

In the Québec tax guide, the government says:

“A de facto spouse is a person of the opposite sex or of the same sex who, at any time during the year:
– was living in a conjugal relationship with you and was the biological or adoptive parent (legally or in fact) of a child of whom you were also the parent; or
– had been living in a conjugal relationship with you for at least 12 consecutive months (if you were separated for less than 90 days, the 12-month period is considered not to have been interrupted).”

In the Québec v. A case, the woman had been in the relationship for seven years and had bore three children with her partner.

It is hypocritical for the Government of Québec to commit a legal fraud to argue one way, and then argue the opposite way. Québec can have it one way or the other, but they cannot have it both ways. The Québec government argued against the young woman known as “A” to protect the financial interests of her ex-partner.

The Supreme Court then sided with the province.

“The Civil Code of Québec does not lay down the terms of the union of de facto spouses. Since the de facto union is not subject to the mandatory legislative framework that applies to marriage and the civil union, de facto spouses are free to shape their relationships as they wish, having proper regard for public order. They can enter into agreements to organize their patrimonial relationships while they live together and to provide for the consequences of a possible breakdown.”

The Supreme Court has granted women the legal right to starve upon dissolution of a child-bearing relationship.

For that reason, the province of Québec must come clean, must be consistent in their interpretation of what constitutes a spouse. They must not deceive the Supreme Court of Canada, and they ought to apologize to the woman who was denied spousal maintenance because of their illegitimate deceit.

Of course, the Supreme Court also ought not to have been so easily deceived.

That’s it, that’s all!


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