One of the main changes noted in the “Census Shows New Face of the Canadian Family” is that there are fewer married couples. The article noted that there has been an increase in single-parent families, as well as multiple-family households. The article remarks that in single-part families, the number of those single parents that are fathers has risen (though most are still mothers). The article appears to attribute this phenomenon to an increase in common-law arrangements, despite a population boom which would usually result in an increase in married couples. Nevertheless, it appears – based on the statistics – that despite the population boom, more couples are choosing to not get married. These numbers also include same-sex couples.
Implications for this trend will include an increase in children from ‘untraditional’ homes, anthropologically speaking. Legally speaking, this may have a significant impact on how the law treats these arrangements, especially when these ‘partnerships’ dissolve – how will the law deal with children and property? Furthermore, it is likely that the number of unmarried/common-law couples will increase. If that is the norm that a child observes while growing up, it is the norm that the child may implement in their own life. In other words, the child might not feel a great urge to walk down the aisle. After all, if the child’s parents aren’t married, the child might not see the point in such an arrangement.
In these scenarios, the endpoint of the relationship – or, rather, a step in the process of the relationship – does not include marriage, meaning that its value, socially and legally, is not as high in these arrangements. This value will be communicated to the child, obviously implicitly but potentially explicitly as well. This value change, as well as the increase in same-sex couples openly living together, reflects an increasing rejection of those institutions which reflect Judeo-Christian values in the West. Therefore, these arrangements suggest a weakening in those same values. Though not officially, it’s understood that many laws are founded on basic Judeo-Christian values.
As these values break down, the laws reflected by these values will likely also begin to change, especially as those who do not observe or believe in those religious systems and believe the law unduly favors believers insist that the law be changed for more universal consideration. With regard to Canada, this may prove more difficult, since there isn’t a clear separation of church and state – at least legally speaking – as there is in the United States. Canada does have freedom of religion, which is often interpreted to include the notion of freedom from religion. However, this is not always clearly understood or stated. Therefore, Judeo-Christian values continue to be the prevailing social or moral foundation for many such laws. Nevertheless, declining numbers in Christian church attendance, as well as seemingly increasing numbers of agnostics and atheists, suggest that at least Christianity has less influence than in past years. This increase in agnostics and atheists, as well as declining influence, seem to suggest an overall weakening in social practices that are reflective of those values, such as traditional institutions like marriage or traditional family structures.