Canadian Journal of Family Law


Natasha Mukhtar

First Page


Document Type

Case Comment


A case comment on Quebec v. A. In Quebec v. A., the Supreme Court of Canada tackled a Charter challenge to the Civil Code of Quebec. The claimant, A., alleged that the legislation violated her section 15 equality rights by discriminating on the basis of marital status in excluding common law couples from spousal support and division of property upon separation. The Court delivered a lengthy, controversial, and divided decision with three lines of dissent. Ultimately, the exclusion was upheld. Quebec continued to exclude common law couples from the division of property and remained the sole province to deny common law couples spousal support upon separation. This paper uses feminist theories of substantive equality to evaluate each of the four major judicial opinions in Quebec v. A., highlighting the ways in which women in common law relationships are more adversely affected by exclusion from the support regime than men. It does so to argue that striking down Quebec's exclusion of common law couples from both spousal support and the division of property, as per Abella J.'s dissent, is more in keeping with feminist theories of substantive equality.