The CBA calls for protection of women and children through amendments to Bill S-7

  • May 04, 2015

Ottawa – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is calling on the government to amend Bill S-7, Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices, to assist the government in ensuring that the Bill will effectively accomplish its goal of protecting women and children in Canada and internationally.

“The CBA supports laws that work effectively to eradicate gender discrimination, inequality and violence against women,” says Suzanne Costom, vice-chair of the CBA’s Criminal Justice Section. ”We encourage the government to consider a number of legal concerns before the Bill becomes law.”

The CBA suggests that proposed changes in the legislation that would prevent immigration based on engaging in polygamy are too broad and unnecessary. According to the CBA, the immigration system already prevents polygamous persons from entering Canada, and polygamy is rare in Canada in any case.

“These changes,” says Peter Edelmann, executive member of the CBA’s Immigration Law Section, “would effectively prevent women and children in forced polygamous relationships from immigrating to Canada, which would not contribute to their protection.”

The CBA also supports retaining the current provocation defence in the Criminal Code. The defence is available to reduce a murder conviction to manslaughter in very limited circumstances. Canada’s courts have rejected it in situations of so called “honour” killings. In fact, Canada’s Supreme Court has said that it must be informed by the Charter’s equality guarantees and cannot be used to justify antiquated beliefs about adultery or killing based on “honour”. 

The CBA highlights ways that the proposed changes to the defence would be impractical and unworkable, and add to court time and administration costs.

The CBA offers practical, legal expertise to the legislative process. The CBA position was developed by both Crown and defence lawyers in its Criminal Justice Section, its Immigration Law Section, its Children’s Law Committee and its Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference. Their input results in a broad, balanced and thoughtful analysis of the legislation.

Suzanne Costom and Peter Edelmann will present the CBA views to the Commons Citizenship and Immigration Committee on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 9:45 am ET in Room 268, Valour Building, 151 Sparks Street. The CBA submission is available online.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries in Quebec, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.