2nd Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 149, Issue 109

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Civil Marriage Act
Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Third Reading— Vote Deferred

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Ataullahjan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Meredith, for the third reading of Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Bill S-7. The title of this bill is “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.” This bill covers four areas, four very different areas: first, polygamy; second, national age of marriage; third, forced marriage; and fourth, provocation.

Honourable senators, I will first address the very troubling issue of the short title of “Zero Tolerances to Barbaric Practices Act.”

As I said at second reading, and to remind you, the definition in the dictionary for “barbaric” is “cruel or brutal.” For “barbarians,” “a member of a wild or uncivilized people,

meaning a foreigner.” The definition of “culture” is “the culture of a particular society, its ideas and its customs.”

Honourable senators, at second reading I spoke very passionately about how I felt about this title. At third reading, honourable senators, I believe I should have you listen to what many people in the community feel about this title.

I want to first start off with quoting Deepa Mattoo, a prominent lawyer on the issue of violence against women, from the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, as she stated on CBC, and I quote:

To be honest, this is what I’ve been saying for the last two weeks. I can’t even look past the title. The title is so very problematic. It blatantly targets marginalized and racialized communities through a racist framework. It’s basically saying . . . it’s inflammatory language. I don’t even believe that this is happening in 2014, that someone is perpetrating a myth regarding certain cultures. Someone is perpetrating a propaganda regarding certain cultures.

Later on she says:

Unfortunately, this bill actually says that violence is cultural when it is not. Violence is violence. The culture of violence is violence, and it targets people. It is not targeting particular marginalized groups, and it’s abandoning us. It’s abandoning the community. It’s disengaging with communities rather than engaging with communities, while saying that it is an issue of communities. It is basically disengaging communities. . . .

It’s targeting very specific marginalized groups. We see the language, for example. It is clear. It is targeting for some groups.

In my second reading speech, I had addressed the challenges with the short title, and since then, honourable senators, we have had committee hearings, and I would like to share with you what we heard at committee.

Dr. Naila Butt, Executive Director of Social Services Network, said:

We agree that the practices the bill aims to restrict are undesirable. However, the title of the bill has connotations suggesting that a select, privileged few have the status of the civilized preaching to the uncivilized barbarians. This language in a multicultural, open and democratic society like Canada, where the majority of the people are immigrants, will not be conducive to reaching the goals the bill has set to achieve.

If we look at the evidence, Canadians in Bountiful, British Columbia are already practising polygamy. On average, every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by an intimate partner. On any given day, more than 3,300 women are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence. More than 1,200 Aboriginal women are missing. Both Amnesty International and the United Nations have called upon the Canadian government to take action on this issue, without success.

She goes on to say:

I ask the honourable senators: How is the violence inflicted on each of these individual Canadian women any different from the violence that the bill intends to eradicate? Where is the zero tolerance for the barbaric acts committed against these Canadian women, or, as the title implies, is that zero tolerance policy reserved for people who are not born here or who dress, speak or pray differently? Violence against women is a community and public health issue affecting us all.

According to the Department of Justice, each year Canadians collectively spend $7.4 billion to deal with the aftermath of spousal violence. There are existing laws in place to tackle the issues raised in the bill. However, to bring about meaningful change in the lives of the victims, based on extensive work on the issue of family violence in Canada, there is an urgent need to bring about multi-level change.

Honourable senators, she went on to describe the landscape in Canada of violence, and it wasn’t just violence in the immigrant community.

Interestingly, Ms. Megan Walker, who represents the London Abused Women’s Centre, which is an agency located in London, Ontario, serving abused women for the past four decades, stated that she supported the bill, but she said, and I quote her:

There is a lot of controversy over the title. It does appear to me that the word “barbaric” does not appear in the long title or anywhere else in the bill. Given the controversy around the term “barbaric” I would suggest that it be removed and we just report it as the long title . . . .

This comes from someone who supports the bill.

Alia Hogben, the Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said, and I quote her:

The highly disturbing issue, which you’ve been hearing about over and over again, which affects not only Canadian Muslim women, but all women, is the title of the act. It is disheartening that we as Canadians would use such language for our legislation.

The title is racist, discriminatory and further exacerbates the racism and stereotyping of some of us in Canadian society, including someone like me. We should all remind ourselves of the treatment meted out to our First Nations, who were seen as barbaric, primitive and uncivilized. Look at the results of such discrimination and racism present even today.

The overt message of this act is that these barbaric practices will be brought into a pristine Canada where there is no violence, where women and girls are not subjected to these horrible practices of forced or early marriages, where polygamy is abhorred, and where there is no femicide — that is, no killings of women and girls. Our organization objects strongly to the label of honour-based violence and we hope we will discuss this later.

Honourable senators, we had the Minister of Immigration appear at committee, and I asked the minister:

You explained it a little bit in your remarks, but why would you have a title like “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act?”

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The minister’s response was, “Because we consider violence against women barbaric.” He went on to say:

For the few that try to advance barbaric practices that perpetuate violence, we must be unequivocal. The passage of Bill S-7 into law would send a strong message to those in Canada, and those who wish to come to this country that we will not tolerate cultural practices in Canada that deprive individuals of their human rights. We will not tolerate those who would claim their cultural practices as an excuse for committing barbaric acts against women and girls, continuing violence against women. These practices will not be tolerated on Canadian soil.

Honourable senators, the minister says that it’s barbaric to have violence against women. I would agree with him if he was saying that of all violence against women in Canada, but that’s not what he was talking about. He was talking about violence in cultural practices.

We received a brief from a Ms. Go, who is from the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. She said about the title:

Violence against Women — An Overview of the issue in Canada

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation:

  • Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
  • 67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted.
  • On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
  • On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence.

Honourable senators, I refer you to her paper, which is very eye-opening. It’s long and I have limited time, so I won’t read all the other statistics that she gives. But when we read her statistics and we listen to the other women, I think we have to look inside and see that when we throw stones and we live in glass houses, we have to be careful about who we call barbarians.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Jaffer: The number one issue that was addressed in the bill was the issue of polygamy. Honourable senators, as you are all aware, the Criminal Code covers polygamy. Section 293(1) says:

Every one who

(a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into

(i) any form of polygamy, or

(ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time,

whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or

(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony . . .

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

As you all know, senators, polygamy is already illegal in our country. I come from British Columbia where, sadly, polygamy is very much thriving in our midst. As you all know, polygamy exists in my province. I can’t speak for your provinces, but I know we are struggling with this in my province.

The Minister of Immigration is amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which is the only part of the bill that he really is in charge of. If you look at the amendment in the act at 41.1(1) he is saying:

A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of practising polygamy . . .

Especially practising polygamy in Canada.

Honourable senators, nobody in this place will say we accept polygamy in Canada. We don’t. That’s not the challenge I have with this. The games that are played with this bill are what make me angry. I had interpreted for you at second reading what this section means. This section means that if a man in a polygamous relationship comes to Canada without his wife, he can come to Canada. But if the wife arrives afterward, she will be denied entry into Canada because that would be practising polygamy in Canada.

So what are we doing? This bill is supposed to protect women. Instead, we will deny the woman entry because she will then be practising polygamy. Don’t take my word for this, honourable senators. I asked the minister this question. He interpreted the bill exactly the same way as I did.

I asked him the question, so I will quote our exchange:

The Chair: Minister, I have a question for you which directly concerns your department, and that’s to do with polygamy. If I read section 41.1(1) of the new bill, it says:

A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of practising polygamy . . .

I have two scenarios for you. A man comes to this country as a visitor. He is in a polygamous relationship but he comes alone. He would be able to enter Canada because he’s not practising polygamy in Canada; am I correct?

Mr. Alexander: Correct, he would be able to enter.

The Chair: If he came with his wife as a visitor, he would be practising polygamy in Canada so he wouldn’t be able to enter; is that correct?

Mr. Alexander: Correct.

Is this a bill about protecting women, or what is this a bill about? How are we really dealing with the issue of polygamy? Honourable senators, I really want you to think about this. If the bill said that no one could enter Canada if they are in a polygamous relationship, I would be okay with that. But when you say a man who is in a polygamous relationship can enter Canada alone and can then stay in Canada, I do not agree to that.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Jaffer: This bill, honourable senators, has been portrayed as a bill that will protect women. This bill is supposed to protect women who look like me. Let me tell you something, honourable senators: We had Craig Jones. If you come from my province, you know he is a very prominent lawyer who has fought the tough fight in relation to Bountiful. He was the lawyer for the Province of British Columbia. For many years he has taken on the issue of Bountiful. At this point I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the work of the former Attorney General Wally Oppal when he fought the good fight to try to stop the polygamous relationships at Bountiful.

Craig Jones is now a professor at Thompson Rivers University. He said:

One caveat that I would offer is that our polygamy laws should be applied in a way that is cognizant of the vulnerability of the women and children already in such households. I’m concerned that the federal government should work with the provinces to ensure that the criminal immigration law provisions against polygamy don’t backfire and that family rules don’t do harm to the very people that we’re trying to help. . . .

The criminalization of polygamy and now the formal introduction of a rule against polygamous immigration and perhaps one that provides for the removal of people in polygamous families have the potential of further isolating the women and children in polygamous households, and both federal and provincial authorities should be conscious of this. My point here is just that targeting polygamy in an attempt to help vulnerable members of our society can, in some cases, hurt the very people we’re trying to help. It’s not an all-win situation when you take on polygamy through the criminal law or, perhaps in this case, through immigration law.

My own conclusion is that, on balance, the advantages of prohibition outweigh its deleterious effects, so I support the inclusion of the references to polygamy in the present legislation as part of a global effort to de-normalize and eventually eliminate this practice, but it is, as I say, not without its risks, and it needs to be balanced with many of the things your previous witnesses were talking about with respect to community outreach and meaningful social work.

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Honourable senators, I would like to remind you all that Canada is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. We were one of the first countries that signed this convention. This convention clearly talks to us, under Article 9, “about providing for the statehood of women, irrespective of their marital status. The convention thereby draws attention to the fact that often women’s legal status has been linked to marriage, making them dependent on their husband’s nationality rather than individuals in their own right.”

Honourable senators, I reread CEDAW this weekend, and my reading says that Canada has agreed not to discriminate against women on the basis of their marital status. Therefore, a woman in a polygamous relationship should not be discriminated against.

Honourable senators, we have international obligations as well, so I ask that we look at this provision very carefully because we will hurt the very women we are trying to protect.

The second issue this bill brings up is the national age of marriage. I have to admit to you, honourable senators, that I have no idea why a national age of marriage is being discussed under the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. I have no idea, but who am I? I’m not privy to all the information. But I am confused.

The minister said:

Specific federal laws, which apply only in Quebec, set the minimum age at 16 years. In other parts of Canada, the common law applies. There is some uncertainty about the common-law minimum age, which is sometimes interpreted as setting a minimum of 12 for girls and 14 for boys, —

Where have you seen a 12- or 14-year-old marriage in Canada, honestly?

— although in some instances and historically, going all the way back to medieval common law, it was as low as 7 years old. Setting a national age of 16 years old for marriage would make it clear that underage marriage is unacceptable in Canada and will not be tolerated.

Honourable senators, first of all, I believe this is very much a provincial issue, but I want to tell you what the minimum age of marriage in the provinces is: Alberta, 18; British Columbia, 19; Manitoba, 18; New Brunswick, 18; Newfoundland, 19; Northwest Territories, 19; Nova Scotia, 19; Nunavut, 19; Ontario, 18; Prince Edward Island, 18; Quebec, 18; Saskatchewan, 18; Yukon, 18.

So why are we going to the age of 16? I am confused, honourable senators. If we were protecting women, why would we go to 16 when all the provinces have 18 or 19 years of age?

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, I have often said that I’m confused. I am genuinely confused as to what’s going on in this bill. Sometimes I feel the Creator looks after me, because I get myself into trouble all the time. Over the weekend, when I was doing research on this bill, I found something that Canada is doing at the United Nations. Our country, with Zambia, is leading the way to make sure that the national age in every country is 18.

I will read to you what our Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, has said at the Third Committee:

The overwhelming support of the international community for this resolution is a clear signal that there is a global movement toward eradicating a practice that threatens the lives and futures of 15 million girls who are forced into marriage each year.

He continues to say:

To the 700 million girls and women around the world who were forced to marry as children, Canada stands with you and will continue to work with partners around the world to ensure that your daughters and granddaughters will not suffer the same fate.

Child and early forced marriage is one of the most pressing development challenges of our time. Our country will always act according to its founding values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law so that they can be enjoyed by all.

Honourable senators, I have this document from the Third Committee of the General Assembly, which was led by Canada and Zambia. In this document, it specifically says that 15 million girls are married every year before they reach 18 years of age, and more than 700 million women and girls alive today were married before their eighteenth birthday. Internationally, Canada is saying 18. Why is it nationally saying 16? Honourable senators, what’s going on?

An Hon. Senator: No credibility at all.

An Hon. Senator: It should be withdrawn.

Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, the next issue that I want to raise is the issue of forced marriage. Honourable senators, I have been working on this issue for many years, and I want at this point to thank Lord Lester of the House of Lords of England. For many years, he has been working on this issue. Whenever I have gone to London, he has always told me that he has studied the communities; we have to do it under the civil law. He was instrumental in making forced marriages under the civil law.

Honourable senators, in 1999 I made a presentation in Brussels, Belgium, on forced marriages. I don’t have time today to read my whole presentation to you, but I spoke about the destructive effects of forced marriages. I spoke about how it destroys the community. My conclusion was that whether we like it or not, forced marriages are a reality in many industrialized societies, especially those with sizeable immigrant components, and we have to decide sooner or later whether all women are entitled to the same basic rights regardless of their background. I have my whole document, if anybody wants to look at this.

Honourable senators, I spoke a lot at second reading about how I feel that criminalizing a family under forced marriages is the wrong way to go. I feel even more so that criminalizing a family under forced marriages is wrong.

I have since spoken to many girls who have called me because I spoke. They said to me that they are in forced marriages. But they said to me, “We are in forced marriages, but we still feel that our parents love us. There is no way on this earth that we are going to go to the police to send our father and mother to jail.” They said to me, “That would mean that I would be denied the love of my brothers and sisters, I would be denied the love of my community, and I would become rootless.” They have said to me, “Please find a way to stop the forced marriage, but don’t destroy us completely by our having to leave our families, our communities and everything we know.”

Honourable senators, I have to tell you that when the Prime Minister goes to West Africa and speaks about forced marriages, I am very proud of him. It is very important that the Prime Minister says that in Canada we will not accept forced marriages; around the world we will help to stop forced marriages. But if it is really a sincere effort, let’s listen to the voices of the little girls who are saying, “Don’t separate us from our families. Don’t separate us from our communities. Don’t make us rootless. Just stop our being married forcefully.”

I could go on and on, but I don’t have the time. This bill will stop these girls from coming to seek help. They are not going to come to the government to say, “Our parents are barbaric. Send them to jail.”

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The other thing that no one has thought about is, if you are an immigrant and you go to the police and your father is charged and convicted, then the whole family will be deported. Do you think a little girl is going to want that, that her family gets deported so that she doesn’t go into a forced marriage? What is she going to do? These are the choices we are giving.

Honourable senators, I ask you to very carefully think about what we are doing.

At second reading, I spoke at length about provocation. I spoke at length about how provocation has never been used for honour killings. I would love to speak to you at length about honour killings and provocation again, but maybe on another day.

I want to commend a book to you that the Quebec Status of Women has written on honour crime. Madam Miville-Dechêne came to our committee. I really commend the Quebec Status of Women for this study, where they have in detail set out what honour killing is. I can’t tell you how many times she said to please get rid of the title. That’s not the way to do it; that’s not the way to build harmony.

Honourable senators, I’m not going to speak any more about provocation except to say to you that the minister said he wanted to stop honour killings. I also want to stop honour killings. We are both on the same page, but if he wants to stop honour killings, why not just have a statement to say that the courts will never use honour killings as a defence? Why change the whole definition of “provocation”? Why not send a strong message to everyone that Canada does not accept honour killings? Why not just say that in the code? Why not say that honour killings will never be a defence to provocation or to murder, and that would be okay; I would be happy with that. But to go in a roundabout way to talk about honour killings — the bill doesn’t talk about honour killings. It’s just changing the definition of “honour killings.”

The bill doesn’t say one word about honour killings. Ten years, five years down the line, who will remember why this came into fruition? Why was the definition of provocation, which is sort of the anchor of our criminal system, changed? They use the words “honour killing,” but they didn’t put it in the bill. That is wrong.

We heard from many witnesses in the committee who said that you can’t have this bill without having prevention. Aruna Papp, who is a supporter of this bill, said to us, and I will repeat:

I just met with the minister before I came here, and I warned him. I said, “If I speak to this bill, I want resources to follow, and that is very important.” He has recognized that. I think we are moving in the right direction. We are doing prevention and starting education in schools and talking to all the parents, starting in elementary school. People are shocked when the girls come home and they’re teenagers and say, “I want to go to school.”

They want to go out with their friends.

We need resources.

Honourable senators, I want to leave this last thing: I have worked with Aruna, Naila and Deepa for many years. I know all their good work, and I have great respect for them.

I have also worked with Alia Hogben, who is the president of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, and I ask you to read what she said in the transcripts. She said that when we treat our children as being different, when we treat them like they don’t look like us, then we give them different treatment. She said that she is a social worker. She very much knows what happened in the Shafia case. When those little girls went and asked for help, they were not given the help — that’s what she said; I’m not saying it — because they were not seen as Canadian girls. They were seen as different.

Honourable senators, I could go on and on telling you that this bill causes us to be seen as different. These were Canadian girls. These were girls from Canada. These girls that we are talking about are Canadian girls. We have to protect our girls.

Honourable senators, at second reading, I spoke to you and said that we could be needles and we could be scissors. We could sew our societies up, or we could cut them apart. That’s the power of a politician.

But today I come and say to you that around Christmas one of the most beautiful things for all of us is the harmony that we see in our society, families and communities, and the love we see in our communities. After everything that has happened to us on the Hill, look at how warm everyone is towards each other around Christmas, because we value harmony.

Honourable senators, this bill is cutting our communities. You have no idea how upset communities are to be called “barbarians.”

When I was a little girl my mother dreamt that I would play the piano. My father said I would be a politician, and you know who won out — my father. My mother has been dead for three years and now, when I was studying this bill, it occurred to me what she was saying. When I was little, to annoy her after I came from school, I would sometimes play on the white keys. Try it. There is no good harmony if you just play on the white keys. Sometimes I just played on the black keys. Try it. It’s not good harmony. My mother used to tell me that to have real harmony you have to play on both black and white keys.

Honourable senators, I say to you, when you have a bill like this that is going to cut up communities, you are destroying the beautiful harmony that we have in our country. We need all people to feel included in our community. Don’t cut up communities.

Honourable senators, I ask you to not have third reading read now, and I have a number of amendments that I would like to move.

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Therefore, honourable senators, I move that Bill S-7 be not now read a third time but that it be amended:

(a) on page 2,

(I) in clause 4, by replacing line 6 with the following:

2.2 No person who is under the age of 18″, and

(ii) by adding after line 19 the following:

                                                        “Consequential Amendment

Federal Law—Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1

5.1 Section 6 of the Federal Law—Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1 is replaced by the following:

  1. No person who is under the age of eighteen years may contract marriage.”;

(b) on page 3,

(i) in clause 7, by replacing lines 9 to 24 with the following:

“7. Section 232 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(2.1) Despite subsection (3), that the victim engaged in behaviour believed by the accused to have been socially or morally inappropriate or unacceptable and to have brought shame or dishonour to the accused or the accused’s family does not amount to provocation for the purposes of this section.”, and

(ii) in clause 8, by replacing lines 33 to 38 with the following:

“would be an offence against section 293.1 or 293.2 in respect of that”;

(c) on page 4, in clause 9, by replacing line 10 with the following:

“is under the age of 18 years is guilty of an”;

(d) on page 7,

(i) in clause 14, by replacing line 7 with the following:

under age of 18 years) and 810.2 (recognizance”, and

(ii) in clause 15, by replacing line 23 with the following:

age of 18 years) or 810.2 (recognizance —”; and

(e) by making any necessary consequential changes to the numbering of provisions and cross-references.

Basically, honourable senators, I am asking that the age be moved from 16 to 18 and that the definition of “provocation” be deleted and a new definition added.

Thank you, honourable senators.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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The Hon. the Speaker: On debate on the amendments.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I wish to ask Senator Jaffer a couple of questions. Senator Jaffer has put a lot into this bill. Her statements have been so complete.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Jaffer, you have another six minutes to go. We can use those six minutes to answer questions, even though we are on debate on the amendments. I will allow the six minutes.

Senator Cools: Senator Jaffer, I thank you very much for what I would say was an extremely appropriate and fitting speech and analysis.

There are a few things about this bill which are bothersome. I wonder if you could address them. I shall articulate some questions to you so you can address them.

Bill S-7 is a massive invasion of the federal power into the provincial power under section 92 in respect of the solemnization of marriage and civil rights and property in the provinces. It is very important that we examine that issue because, as we know, the solemnization of marriage was granted to the provinces after the first several drafts of the British North America Act when Quebec insisted and were concerned that their marriages in Quebec be conducted and solemnized by Roman Catholic priests rather than Protestant ones.

I looked at the list of witnesses. I note that no Attorney General from any province was called to comment.

Senator Jaffer: Senator, I did look at this, and I am given to understand that the federal government has a role and the provincial government has a role, and I am given to understand that the federal government can set the age of marriage as it is involved in the Divorce Act and other issues. So my understanding is that this is acceptable. We did not have any constitutional experts speak on it, so I may be wrong in my answer.

Senator Cools: Senator Jaffer, you mentioned the Civil Marriage Act. The 2005 Civil Marriage Act is a very recent act. The only reason it was enacted was to create the rights for same- sex couples to marriage. It left everything else to do with marriage in the sphere of the provinces. I have not understood what the purpose was in Bill S-7 in amending the Civil Marriage Act. Maybe you could explain, if you know.

Senator Jaffer: I don’t know.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, the final question is that the bill, on the face of it, appears to be using the Criminal Code which is a brutal instrument, and a very rough one, to regulate marriage. This is a huge and different kind of invasion into this almost sacred provincial sphere in the solemnization of marriage. Do you have any insights into that?

Senator Jaffer: When you get a bill, it’s on an issue. It could be on cyberbullying; it could be on the Internet. This is an omnibus bill. We are talking about polygamy; we are talking about forced marriage; we are talking about national age of marriage; and then we are talking about amending the Criminal Code. This is just a hodgepodge bill. We did not get the opportunity to ask the Minister of Justice, who declined to come in front of our committee because the lead minister on this was the Minister of Immigration. The three issues were under his domain, but the Minister of Immigration was the lead minister.

Hon. Nicole Eaton: I cannot hope to emulate Senator Cools and some of her fine legal arguments, but I was sitting in committee and I never heard the minister once refer to people. He referred to barbaric acts.

If I were to say to my 15-year-old daughter, “Darling, I think it would be to my financial advantage if you went off to Bountiful and married your cousin of 20,” would that not be barbaric?

Senator Jaffer: I don’t know what you’re asking me. What is barbaric? I’m not understanding. I quoted the minister’s words exactly, so I’m not sure what you’re saying.

Senator Eaton: The minister never referred to anybody being barbaric. He referred to acts being barbaric.

Senator Jaffer: He said violence against women was barbaric.

Senator Eaton: You do not agree?

Senator Jaffer: I hope you heard my whole speech. What I said is that we cannot say that violence against women is barbaric with the landscape that we have. If we are saying that that’s barbaric, then all the violent acts that have happened in Canada, including the missing Aboriginal women and girls, are barbaric. Why are we not having a national inquiry on it? That is barbaric.

Why are we not having a national inquiry on it? That’s barbaric.

Senator Eaton: That is not the focus of the bill, and I don’t disagree with you. All action against all women is barbaric. I guess I don’t understand why you have such difficulty thinking an early or forced marriage is not barbaric. I have trouble with why you think it’s fine and that maybe it’s not our customs and maybe we should be gentler. No; forcing someone to get married at an early age, is it not barbaric?

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Senator Jaffer: I can’t interpret what you think because I can’t get into your mind, but I have told you that since 1999 I have been working on issues of forced marriage. I want the little girls to get help. I want them not to have to be in that. However, when you call their father barbaric, they are not going to go to get that help.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Jaffer, to finish your remarks, do you seek five more minutes? No?

Senator Jaffer: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: On debate. Honourable Senator Eggleton?

Senator Eggleton: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: Question?

Senator Martin: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: We’ll first deal with the amendment.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those in favour of the motion will please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the “nays” have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: May I have the instructions from the whips?

Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: A 30-minute bell.

Hon. Jim Munson: A 30-minute bell.

The Hon. the Speaker: The vote will take place at 11 minutes past 7 o’clock.

Call in the senators.

(1910)

 

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