The 27-year-old married Karl Lamirande six
months ago. She would have been honoured to
assume her husband's name because they want to
hold on to traditions.
"I want to have the
same name as my kids. I want the whole family to
use the same name. It's important to us," she
In Canadian provinces where common law
prevails, a woman can begin using her husband's
surname after marriage. Armed with a copy of
their official, provincially issued marriage
certificate, women can easily and officially
acquire new identification for documents such as
a driver's licence.
But in Quebec, since a 1981 reform of the
civil law, women are not permitted to adopt
their husband's name at marriage -not even if
they apply for an official name change.
Procedures for formal name change are very
strict in Quebec and the decision is up to the
director of civil status. It requires a serious
reason, such as difficulty of use due to
spelling or pronunciation, or bearing a name
that is mocked or that has been made infamous.
"Obviously, I don't match those criteria,"
said Ms. Parent. "So it's hopeless."
She hopes to spark a public debate on the
issue, but before taking any other action, Ms.
Parent is waiting to hear from the government.
"I'll wait and see. I don't know what step will
be next because I haven't thought about it yet."
"All I am asking for is that women have the
choice to take the name they want," she said.
The civil law reform took place shortly after
the creation of the Quebec Charter of Rights in
which equality between men and women was clearly
stated, recalls Alain Roy, a family law
professor at the University of Montreal.
"It was a logical follow-up to translate that
equality into name attribution. And it was a
highly symbolic gain for the feminist movement,"
Mr. Roy said in an interview.
The change was well received in Quebec and
has never really been challenged before,
stressed Mr. Roy. But he is not surprised to see
it questioned now.
"There is a new generation of women, raised
in an equal society, who don't feel threatened
by men," said Mr. Roy. "For them, taking their
husband's name doesn't mean living under their
© Ottawa Citizen 2007