Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her presentation.
For those who might be looking at the bill for the first time or those who might be observing us from home, the difficulty with the bill is that much of it, in fact 95% of what is in the bill, deals with matters that are already illegal. Canada has never allowed honour killings, because we have never allowed killings. They go in the general category of murder. Similarly, polygamy is already illegal in Canada, and to my knowledge, people who interview refugees coming to Canada would not allow people to come in if they were in a polygamous union in any case. However, my concern is where the bill goes beyond being merely useless and propaganda, where it might actually do some damage.
Members of the criminal bar who testified before the committee testified that there is no example in Canadian history where the defence of provocation has been used in a case such as an honour killing. Provocation by its very nature in law requires a response that is essentially on the spur of the moment, where passions are riled up. For example, if one sees a person who committed violence against one's wife, on the street, unexpectedly, the defence of provocation can move what would have been murder to manslaughter.
In an honour killing situation, provocation does not fit at all and could never be used. However, the change to the defence of provocation in the proposed act, according to the advice from the former head of the criminal bar within the Canadian Bar Association, is that this could do damage to criminal justice in Canada.
I ask my hon. colleague, who is also an hon. friend, if she is not concerned that the bill, which is generally dealing with things that are already illegal, may actually make it so that the defence of provocation for people in genuine instances of being provoked lose access to that defence in Canadian law.
Subtopic: Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act