June 16, 2015

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Elizabeth May

Green

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.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Stella Ambler

Conservative

Mrs. Stella Ambler

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the hon. member's question about provocation. While it may be true that it is not a defence that has been used, we would be codifying that the defence of provocation has to be substantive. For example, one could not use as a defence dating a person whom one's family does not approve of, as a reason or as provocation. Instead, under this legislation, an accused could only use that defence of provocation if the victim were committing an act of violence that led to an offence indictable by five years or more. We are making sure that, if someone says, “I am going to use the defence of provocation as an excuse for this honour killing”, that is simply not possible.

As for her earlier question regarding polygamy, absolutely it has been illegal in this country since 1890, but this bill would provide immigration officers the tools they need to render applicants for temporary and permanent residency inadmissible due to polygamy. It is a regulation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, not a provision in the Criminal Code.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach

New Democratic Party

Ms. Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Beauharnois—Salaberry, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell Canadians that this bill tackles gender-based violence.

Clearly all members of the House, no matter their party affiliation, are opposed to violence against women and children, whether in connection with forced marriage or polygamy. That has always been the case.

As my colleague from the Green Party said, the Criminal Code already deals with this issue. The bill we are debating today does not resolve these issues and even creates problems in terms of criminalization. There are serious unintended consequences. Children will be deported and family members separated. There are also no prevention tools to provide mental health services to children who have experienced violence, for example. In the case of this bill, discussion and debate is under a gag order. Furthermore, at the committee hearings, a number of experts said that the bill lacks transparency. I will quote Action Canada for Sexual Rights and Health:

The bill reflects a lack of consultation (closed-door meetings and invitation-only consultations), and a lack of transparency, participation and public debate. The proposed amendments are not based on the experiences of women and girls who have survived acts of violence, such as forced marriage.

The bill reflects a lack of consultation...The proposed amendments are not based on the experiences of women and girls who have survived acts of violence, such as forced marriage.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about that because it is very serious to say that we defend women and children when those same women, children and organizations were not consulted and the bill could cause even more serious problems for victims.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Stella Ambler

Conservative

Mrs. Stella Ambler

Mr. Speaker, I would agree that this is all about protecting victims. I think sometimes the opposition does not understand that this really is a serious issue. This bill was necessary. There were 219 cases of forced marriage reported in a report released in August 2013. In a two- or three-year period, between 2010 and 2012, there were 219 cases. That is not just one victim too many; that is 219 victims too many.

This bill shows that our government will not tolerate spousal abuse, honour killings, and other gender-based violence. We will not allow any of that to happen as a pretext to immigration as well, and that is a very important point to note, which is addressed in this bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Joe Comartin

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, Rail Transportation; the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Public Safety.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Kellie Leitch

Conservative

Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this important debate on Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Willowdale.

This bill reflects our government's priority for supporting women and girls to live violence-free lives, because a building block for women and children in reaching their full potential is being able to live life free of violence and free of the threat of violence.

As Minister for Status of Women, I am proud of everything that we are doing to eliminate gender-based violence. Bill S-7 builds on our efforts in that regard.

Bill S-7 sends a clear message to people who come to live in Canada and those who live here already. It says that we are committed to ensuring that no girl or woman in Canada becomes a victim of polygamy, forced marriage or violence committed in the name of so-called honour. In other words, these customs are inconsistent with Canadian values, and like every other type of violence against women and girls, they will not be tolerated.

As hon. members know, millions of women and girls throughout the world are victims of violence and inhumane treatment. That includes customs such as forced or underage marriage. That is why Canada is leading the international effort to ensure that forced marriage and underage marriage are recognized as basic human rights violations. Eliminating these practices is one of Canada's top international priorities. We raised it at a session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March, and I am proud to say that I led the Canadian delegation at that session.

We are committed to helping ensure that these cultural practices do not occur on Canadian soil, through measures like those in Bill S-7. This bill would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act, and the Criminal Code to provide more protection and support for vulnerable individuals, primarily women and girls.

These amendments would improve protection and supports for vulnerable individuals, especially women and girls, in a number of different ways. They would render permanent and temporary residents inadmissible if they practise polygamy in Canada. They would strengthen Canadian marriage laws by establishing a new national minimum age for marriage at 16 years and by codifying the existing legal requirements for free and enlightened consent for marriage and for ending an existing marriage prior to entry into another. They would criminalize certain conduct related to knowing participation in underage and forced marriage ceremonies, and they would include the act of removing a child from Canada for the purpose of such marriage ceremonies. They would help protect potential victims of underage or forced marriages by creating a new and specific preventive court-ordered peace bond where there are grounds to fear that someone would commit an offence in this area. Finally, they would ensure that the defence of provocation would not apply in so-called honour killings and many spousal homicides.

This legislation is a very important part of the multifaceted approach our government is taking to help women and girls live violence free.

Another key action we have taken is to increase funding to the women's program at Status of Women Canada to record levels. In fact, we have invested more than $162 million in more than 780 projects through the women's program since 2007, including more than $71 million for projects to end violence against women and girls. Through Status of Women Canada, we have provided funds for projects to eliminate harmful cultural practices using community-based approaches. These projects are building partnerships with cultural communities; settlement, legal, and law enforcement agencies; and school boards. They result in the development of comprehensive, collaborative strategies that address violence against women and girls committed in the so-called name of honour.

By way of example, a project in Montreal led by Shield of Athena Family Services provided training to liaison workers from cultural communities in order to identify at-risk situations and identify sources for assistance of victims.

We also teamed up with the Indo-Canadian Women's Association in Edmonton, Alberta. The association mobilized local South Asian and Middle Eastern communities as well as a range of partners, including service providers, faith-based organizations, teaching staff and students.

Together they came up with strategies to eliminate this kind of gender-based violence. These initiatives demonstrate that our government is committed to giving communities the tools they need to combat gender-based violence.

We are also committed to eliminating violence against aboriginal women and girls. That is why we launched our action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls back in April.

This action plan takes immediate and concrete action to prevent violence, support victims, and protect aboriginal women and girls through new and ongoing commitments of approximately $200 million over five years.

That action plan includes a secretariat to improve co-operation among all stakeholders, including those at the federal level and all other levels of government. That has also been in place since April. Along with the secretariat, we also created a website, where we have posted links to the various funding mechanisms used as part of our action plan.

I am proud of each of these actions by our government that I have spoken about today. However, we all know that no single government or person or community organization acting alone can end violence against women and girls. All Canadians need to be part of the solution.

We must continue to underscore that violence is never acceptable or normal behaviour. We must continue to empower women and girls to speak out. We must keep taking actions like the measures in Bill S-7. This legislation sends a strong message to those who are already in Canada and to those who wish to come to this country that we will not tolerate cultural practices that deprive individuals of human rights.

Bill S-7 is another important step we are taking as a country to help women and girls live free of violence. That is why I am proud to say that I am supporting Bill S-7, and I urge all of my colleagues to do exactly the same. It is in their interest and it is in the interest of human rights that we support these initiatives.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Marc-André Morin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Marc-André Morin (Laurentides—Labelle, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is simple: what is the point of including verbal abuse in the title of the bill? The title suggests that someone saw a culture that they thought was barbaric. Is there any way of knowing what culture that was? Was there just one culture in particular? If there were several, could my colleague give us a list?

Let us imagine a scenario in which a little 13- or 14-year-old girl is forced to marry and she reports it. Her authoritarian father who forced her to marry in the first place will be placed under an order for two years and will no longer be able to travel. That little girl will have a rather miserable home life.

The bill seems to have some shortcomings, and all it does is break down doors that are wide open.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Kellie Leitch

Conservative

Hon. K. Kellie Leitch

Mr. Speaker, I find this absolutely preposterous.

Women who suffer violence, women whom I meet in the emergency departments when I am performing my role as a surgeon, are individuals who deserve our help and support.

What the opposition is suggesting is that maybe they do not come forward with actual concerns and complaints, but when people are victims, they are victims. When their father beats them and they show up in an emergency department, they deserve to be supported.

What I would say in response to opposition member's comment about warrants is that we should be doing more. The individuals who perpetuate these crimes deserve to be behind bars, and this government is focused on making sure that this punishment is delivered.

As I have already stated, I hear the member opposite with respect to the title, but let us be very clear: any issue that is a barbaric cultural practice that infringes on human rights is wrong and must not be tolerated.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Devinder Shory

Conservative

Mr. Devinder Shory (Calgary Northeast, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I will cite a couple of quotes and then I will ask a question.

On November 18, 2014, a victim herself, Aruna Papp, said, in committee:

I commend the government for its leadership in taking a stand on a very difficult issue and for defending the human rights of vulnerable women unable to speak for themselves.

On November 26, 2014, Taima Al-Jayoush, a Montreal-based human rights lawyer, said that when we describe a crime as barbaric, we are simply calling it what it is. No one should identify with it except the ones who have committed such a crime. It is not directed at any certain community.

My question for the Minister of Status of Women is this: when she meets with groups and individuals in her role as minister, what is the feedback she receives on this particular bill?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Kellie Leitch

Conservative

Hon. K. Kellie Leitch

Mr. Speaker, having met with women across the country with respect to this bill and with respect to other issues regarding violence against women and girls and how it should be eliminated, I can tell the member that women are overwhelmingly supportive of these initiatives. Women do not want to be placed in a forced marriage. They do not think the activity of polygamy is acceptable. They do not think being deprived of their rights here on Canadian soil is acceptable behaviour, and they are looking to their government to take action.

I can also tell the member that they are overwhelmingly disappointed that certain members in this House are voting against this bill, because they believe their rights are just as important as those of every other Canadian. They deserve to be protected. They are victims and they deserve to be protected.

I am hearing from Canadian women, whether it be in St. John's, Toronto, Vancouver, or Calgary, that they overwhelming support the bill and our championing of women's rights.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Chungsen Leung

Conservative

Mr. Chungsen Leung (Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand in the House today to support Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.

The measures in the bill reflect our Conservative government's unwavering commitment to the protection of vulnerable women and children, whether they are newcomers to Canada or born in this country.

I know that many of my colleagues here today share our government's strong conviction that we must do everything in our power to ensure that barbaric cultural practices such as polygamy, forced and underage marriage, and so-called honour killings do not occur on Canadian soil. These are practices that discriminate against and perpetrate violence against women and girls, and they have no place in Canadian society.

Now that the bill has been public for several months, Canadians have had the chance to understand and react to its provisions. I have been heartened by the support that Bill S-7 has received. I will provide several examples.

Daphne Bramham of The Vancouver Sun, who has covered these issues more than most Canadian journalists, wrote the following in her column on December 9, 2014:

Forced marriages, child marriages and polygamy are barbaric practices and anathema to the equality rights of children and women.

After more than a century of ignoring them, the government's bill takes Canada a step closer toward eliminating them.

In an op-ed in the National Post last November 13, Aruna Papp wrote movingly about Bill S-7, relating it to her own personal experiences with abuse. Here is a short excerpt:

Forced into an abusive marriage at 17 and unable to leave it for 18 years, I can attest to the fact that a forced marriage is effectively a life of slavery. I congratulate the Canadian government for taking a bold step on behalf of women who have nowhere to turn for help.

Over the past 30 years, I have founded agencies in Toronto that assist immigrant women; I have met hundreds of women who are victims of forced marriages and domestic violence. The government's “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” recognizes the plight of these women. In presenting this bill, the government of Canada has said, in effect, “As a Canadian citizen, you, too, deserve to live a life free of violence and coercion.” For this, I am grateful.

On December 12, Tahir Gora, CEO of the Canadian Thinkers' Forum, wrote a blog post for The Huffington Post in support of the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. He wrote:

Minister Alexander is right. Violence against women is an absolutely barbaric act. It must be addressed strongly. Forced marriages, polygamy and honour killings happen every day around the globe under the guise of cultural practices. Should those cultural practices not be condemned? Calling a spade a spade should not be a political issue in a country like Canada where human rights guarantee equal rights to women.

I had the opportunity to sit on the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of the House as we studied Bill S-7. On April 23, immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges told committee members:

I believe the immigration provisions of Bill S-7 send a very strong statement that polygamy is not and will not be tolerated in Canada. The negative effects of polygamy on women and children are very well documented in sociological studies.

She added that the bill sends:

...a concrete statement about Canadian values. I think this is important in a context where our society is increasingly relativist and, in a rush to respect other cultures, we often overlook the fact that there is a reason why our own Canadian culture has developed in the way that it has.

At that same session, Vancouver lawyer and columnist Kathryn Marshall said:

At the heart of this bill is gender equality and the right of women and girls to be equal in Canada. As a woman, I feel very fortunate that I was born in a country in which the rights of women and girls are protected and in which we are equal to men. I feel fortunate that my daughter was born in a country where her gender does not sentence her to a lifetime of second-class citizenship.

At the core is the fact that equality is a fundamental human right in Canada. It is a core of who we are as people, a core value. It's something that cannot be taken for granted. We have to protect it and preserve it.

She added:

Gender equality should never be taken for granted, even in a place like Canada, where it is a core value of who we are as people. Critics of this bill have said that such horrendous acts as honour killings, polygamy, and child marriage should not be a priority of this government because they don't happen with enough frequency in this country. To those critics I would say that one occurrence of these brutal and un-Canadian acts is one enough: there should never be any of these acts. We should always take action. The reality is that we're not talking about a few isolated incidents. This is something that's becoming increasingly more common. The trend seems to be that's it's occurring with more frequency each year.

With the passage of this bill, Canada will be joining other nations that have taken a strong stance against forced and child marriage by making it illegal.

To critics who have objected to the name of the bill, Ms. Marshall countered, stating:

The horrifying reality is that culture is an essential part of honour violence. In parts of the world it is condoned and is legal. We must not be afraid to label barbaric practices as what they are.

I think that calling the bill what it currently is called shows a strong stance. History has shown us that language is an important tool, and we should use it. We should call these acts what they are, which is barbaric.

Finally, I would like to share the words of Salma Siddiqui, the president of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, who told committee members:

The Government of Canada's decision to table a bill for zero tolerance of barbaric cultural practices is the right move and should be welcomed. For too long women have been oppressed through polygamy and forced marriages....

The bill is really about protecting women and should be seen as a welcome step. People coming to Canada must conform to our values. They have to put aside their past understanding of women. In this country, men and women are equal before the law and in society.

I am glad to have had the opportunity to share these words of praise for Bill S-7 from a number of notable Canadians. I hope that my fellow members of the House will take these words to heart and support the bill's important provisions.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Jinny Sims

New Democratic Party

Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims (Newton—North Delta, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, last I looked, we have laws against domestic violence in Canada. If I remember correctly, someone who wants to come to this country is only allowed to bring one spouse, and someone who is in Canada can only be married to one person at a time. If people want to get married again, they have to go through a divorce and all of the regular things.

Therefore, a specific question for my colleague is this: What issue is the government trying to address that is not already covered by current laws? We have laws against polygamy. We do not condone child marriage. We have laws against domestic violence.

Why do we have a bill with a title “barbaric practices”? Would he indicate to me which particular communities they are trying to target with the bill?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Chungsen Leung

Conservative

Mr. Chungsen Leung

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of these provisions for polygamy and sexual assault and so on in law, but they are scattered over a lot of pieces of legislation. This legislation brings them together in one place and in very clear and absolute terms of what this country is and what our shared values are.

With respect to barbaric practices, there are practices that, historically, in many societies, have been considered barbaric. However, as we have evolved into a modern civilized society, some of these have been put aside. In those cultures that do not share our values, those practices, in our eyes, are barbaric, and they are not permitted in our country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member and I actually served on the immigration committee for a couple of years. During that time we had the opportunity to discuss a good number of different issues as we tried to fit into the agenda what was important and needed to addressed. I am sure the member would recall some of those issues. For example, for me one of the issues was visitor visas and the need to do more to deal with those visas and the impact they are having on the lives of Canadians. However, we have not seen very much progress.

Let us fast forward now to Bill S-7. I do not ever recall during my time on the immigration committee when this issue was brought up. Given that we were sitting on the committee together, I wonder if the member can recall any time the issue was brought up.

We will be voting for the bill, because there is no reason to vote against it, with the exception of the title.

We can question why the government is bringing it in at this time. It is an issue of priorities, and it seems to me the government has its priorities mixed up.

Could the member indicate to what degree he can recall this issue being debated when we were both on the immigration committee?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Chungsen Leung

Conservative

Mr. Chungsen Leung

Yes, Mr. Speaker, it was indeed a pleasure serving with the hon. member on the immigration committee, and we certainly discussed a broad range of issues.

The issue of visitor visas belongs in a separate discussion. However, with respect to cultural practices, polygamy, and so on, the issue came about because as we were doing broad consultations across Canada, we recognized that this was an issue we needed to address. Therefore, we continued our study and addressed this specifically. The end result is Bill S-7.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Raymond Côté

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, to begin, and given that this bill is subject to the latest in a long line of time allocation motions, I will say that it is my great pleasure to share my speaking time with my very esteemed colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. I know that she will speak intelligently and will represent her constituents very well.

For a bill that is going to cause all sorts of disruptions and, most importantly, result in absolutely unbelievable duplication, it is scandalous that, even if we could not persuade our Conservative colleagues, we do not have enough time to alert the Canadian public as a whole to the dangers associated with the undercurrents of racism, intolerance, extreme rhetoric and incoherence that are the hallmark of this government when it tries to deal with genuine and serious problems to which we need to find an answer. That answer must not amount to legal and legislative fiddling that unfortunately is likely to lead to very harmful consequences, especially for the victims, as we told this government at every stage of this bill, and as a majority of the witnesses said at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Unfortunately, with its electioneering, shamefully partisan and frankly vote-buying approach, the government is trying to use the legislative tools that are entirely under its control to buy its re-election on the backs of hundreds if not thousands of victims all across Canada.

This is truly depressing. No woman in this country should have to suffer violence or the kind of life that forced or early marriage imposes. In fact, this country we are so proud of, the country willed to us by our ancestors, has worked very hard to promote equality of status between men and women. Introducing this bill, which is quite simply a mess, if we go by the title, is no way to preserve that heritage. I will take the liberty of reading the short title we know so well by now, which gives the impression we are returning to ancient times, to the biblical times of the Old Testament: Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. Words are our chief tool, as legislators, for taking action in our society and ensuring that our constituents live in the best possible conditions. The government, however, is tossing around loaded terms whose effect is to marginalize a large segment of our population. When shame is heaped on their head by the opposition, they should be ashamed. The opposition was not being unfair; quite the contrary. In the work done in committee, we were very reasonable and proposed only two amendments. In spite of the opinion of the large majority of all 24 witnesses, the government refused even to seriously consider thinking about the two amendments presented by the New Democratic Party.

Despite this sensationalism, the problem has not been resolved—quite the opposite. The minister finally made a proposal through the unelected, illegitimate Senate. Nonetheless, the minister should have committed to holding full and serious consultations on the matter.

One of the concerns expressed by all the witnesses was that in reality, the government is legislating about something we do not fully understand. We do not know the full extent of this phenomenon and there are no reliable statistics. The government is legislating blind and repeating provisions that already exist in the Criminal Code. In other words, it is simply reiterating and repeating legal provisions that prohibit forced marriages and polygamy, among other things. We therefore find ourselves watching the government engage in a huge marketing campaign to show how tough it can be on those who abuse the most vulnerable in our society. However, in reality, those who are really exploiting these oppressed people and victims of forced marriage are the Conservatives when they introduce this type of bill.

In fact, the thing that infuriates me is that this is a recent stunt by the Conservatives. Very modestly, in four years in the House, I have been a member of four different committees. I have seen every trick the Conservatives throw at us to push their agenda through. A very recent practice that is rather odd is that when members from the opposition parties propose amendments in committee, the Conservatives have speaking notes prepared ahead of time to justify their unjustifiable positions.

Having experienced that during the study on Bill C-59, the budget implementation bill, I have to say that we proposed a very reasonable number of amendments. There were times when the governing party's justifications for rejecting amendments bordered on ludicrous. Our amendments were aligned with the concerns and requests we heard from witnesses during the committee's work.

For the benefit of all members of the House, I would like to remind everyone of what the vast majority of the 24 witnesses who spoke to this bill said. They—and this includes pro-Conservative witnesses—expressed serious reservations about the short title, for one thing. It is an insult that goes back to antiquity. It would have been more appropriate in the days of the Romans and the Greeks than it is today. The Conservatives also had reservations about the minimum age of consent, the definition of polygamy, penalties for minors and women and issues related to the defence of provocation.

There comes a time when, faced with a vast majority of opinions on a great many aspects of a bill, one makes concessions and tries to find a way to agree on certain aspects to make it work.

I think that this tired and dying government has reached its limit. The Conservatives are so keen on proving their legitimacy that they are refusing to listen to any opinion that differs from their speeches, which have been pre-formatted by the advisors in short pants in the Prime Minister's Office. These advisors are imposing opinions on people who, if they did not belong to the Conservative Party, would likely be able to express themselves in a very reasonable way. However, they gave up all of their freedom, and apparently their duty to their constituents as well, in order to pander to voters. At election time, they want to be able to tell people to look at how they solved the problems of barbaric cultural practices that are becoming increasingly common in Canada because of immigration and are threatening our way of life.

That is really shameful, and that is why all of my NDP colleagues and I will be voting against this bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Mike Wallace

Conservative

Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for participating in the debate on Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. I spoke to the bill during the second reading debate.

I have been here all day. Most of the response to the bill has been that opposition members do not like the word “barbaric” in the title. As a father of two daughters, any violence against women or honour killing is barbaric, and voting against the bill is barbaric.

When members of his party are out talking to their constituents and this bill comes up, what it does, and that it would help criminalize the issues honour killing and violence against women, are they going to say that kind of violence against women is not barbaric?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Raymond Côté

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Côté

Mr. Speaker, my colleague seems to be confused. Is any type of murder legal in Canada? That is the underlying question.

When a term like “barbaric” is used to describe cultural practices, we are basically pointing a finger at a segment of the population, subjecting them to scrutiny and disgracing them. That could polarize our society, which is a very dangerous thing to do. In many countries around the world, this type of situation opens the door to violence against minorities and abuse of power.

Frankly, as a Canadian, that is the type of thing I never want to see happen in our beautiful country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that one could argue successfully that certain aspects of the legislation are not necessary because the law is there in one form or another already. However, that is not 100% true for all aspects of the legislation. I will use the specific example of establishing a national minimum age of 16. This is completely new and it is not in any legislation or deemed a criminal act today. Members might try to wiggle some room around it and maybe cite this or that, but it is new.

The member, like me, has been in the chamber and passed all kinds of legislation, which have been nowhere near as significant as this aspect in the proposed legislation. Therefore, does the member not see any good whatsoever within the legislation? If the answer to that is yes, as I believe it should be, particularly in establishing a national age, then what specific aspect of the legislation, if passed, will cause harm to Canadians?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Raymond Côté

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Côté

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his question

There is an aspect of the bill that I forgot to mention in my speech, but I will not mention it now.

There is something very troubling about the Liberals, and there is no denying it. When we studied the anti-terrorism bill, Bill C-51, the Liberals said that they did not agree with the bill, but that they would vote for it, and once they took power—which is highly unlikely—they would change things.

What is very troubling is that they are doing the same thing with Bill S-7, despite the opinion of the majority of witnesses, who pointed out many problems with different parts of the bill. Those problems make it almost impossible to adopt the bill in its current form, or without significant amendments. In the end, we would find ourselves with a bill that is both counterproductive and unsatisfactory. Thus, the Liberal approach is really pointless. It is a dead end.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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June 16, 2015