An Act to amend 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

Status

In committee (House), as of April 18, 2018

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends 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 by repealing its short title.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

April 18, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill S-210, An Act to amend 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

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

April 17th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-210.

First of all, as the members of the House already know, the NDP will be supporting this bill. We want to thank the senator who raised this matter in the other place, as well as the member who raised it in this House.

The reason we are supporting this bill is very simple. We do not believe, nor have we ever believed, that the government should play with words when it comes to legislation. We thought it was important to have fair titles. We thought it was important that the government be reasonable, that it not seek to divide Canadians. Instead, the government should be promoting consensus on legislation.

The first reason we are supporting this bill is that we have always opposed the former Conservative government under Mr. Harper in his intent to try to deform legislation, to add titles that are absolutely inappropriate. We fought this through the years of the Harper government. There were many times that we raised the fact that the government was imposing titles that made no sense and were designed for political purposes, rather to properly reflect the content of the legislation before the House of Commons.

The issue raised by the title of one government bill, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, was very problematic, as were a number of other titles. A government should be looking for consensus in this country, not searching for division and imposing on acts and bills and legislation titles that are designed for political purposes.

Certainly the Conservative government had the opportunity to campaign, but that was not appropriate for legislation that comes before the House and is considered by all of the members of Parliament who are elected to represent their districts. The use by the former Harper Conservatives of these kinds of titles never should have happened. We certainly agree with eliminating the title in this case.

I raised earlier this week the very many practices that the Harper Conservatives brought in that the current Liberal government is continuing. It includes omnibus legislation, the most bloated omnibus legislation in Canada's history. There are 556 pages in the budget implementation act that we just suspended debate on, and there are so many other cases where we see the lack of transparency and the lack of respect for democratic institutions under the Harper government transformed into the new Liberal government. It is completely contrary to what Liberals committed to.

In this case at least, we are seeing the initiative of one member of Parliament in speaking out against a Harper Conservative practice. At least one Liberal is speaking out against the current government continuing this practice, at least in this case, so we thank him for that.

At the same time, since I represent my riding, I need to talk about respect for diversity in this country and the fact that the Harper Conservatives, in introducing that divisive title, were not showing respect for the diversity of this land that we all call home.

In the riding of New Westminster—Burnaby, there is more diversity within a few square kilometres of that riding than exists anywhere else in Canada and, we believe, anywhere else on the planet. Within a few square kilometres of the city of New Westminster, south Burnaby, east Burnaby, and Cariboo Hill, in the Burnaby-Edmonds area, over 150 languages are spoken. All major centres of faith are found in the riding of New Westminster—Burnaby. I am so honoured to represent that area. Through the course of a day, sometimes I will be able to use fragments of 14 or 15 different languages with the various groups that are so active in the cultural diversity that is New Westminster—Burnaby.

It is an exciting place. There are so many festivals. What we have is Canadians of so many different origins, from the four corners of this planet, coming together in consensus and making sure that they work together and bring the best of their countries of origin.

My grandfather and grandmother on my mother's side did the same when they came from Norway, as did my grandfather and grandmother on my father's side when they came from Ireland and England. They brought to New Westminster—Burnaby a lot of diversity and traditions that were important, and all in keeping with those fundamental values of human rights and equality that Canadians believe in. In New Westminster—Burnaby we find that writ large, 150 times over. People from all corners of the earth come together in harmony.

I can recall one incident that exhibits the kind of acceptance and the kind of tolerance of each other that really underscores Canadian values. I go to the Chariot Festival every year at the Tamil-speaking Hindu temple on Edmonds Street in Burnaby. It is a loud, boisterous, and celebratory festival. People go through the streets of the community around Edmonds. There is loud music, which is wonderful. It is vibrant. There is dancing.

The first time I accompanied the marchers through the neighbourhood, I went up to some burly guys who were sitting at the side of their fence drinking a cold beer. It was a hot summer day. I asked them how they felt about all this. I was not sure what the reaction of the gentlemen would be, but one of them said to me that he loved it, because he did not have to travel around the world to see the traditions in Tamil-speaking India, because India comes to his door.

That type of acceptance and admiration of the diversity and multiculturalism that exists in New Westminster—Burnaby is something I believe all Canadians share. That is the hallmark of Canadian multiculturalism, and I see it each and every day in my riding. I see an acceptance and a willingness to look at what is best that has been brought from the four corners of the earth and woven into the tapestry that is the multicultural nation we call home, with the various origins, including, of course, first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

More often than not, we get that balance right. We still have so much to do to make sure that every Canadian feels accepted and welcome. We still have a lot of work to do in that respect. My colleagues in the NDP raise this every day in the House of Commons. Generally, most Canadian communities get it right, and most Canadian communities believe in that acceptance of each other. That is a good start for Canada.

That is why, getting back to Bill S-210, the idea of carving off what was an extraordinarily divisive title, used for political purposes, is an important but small step in what we want to achieve as a country.

We should all believe, as the 150 different languages spoken in my riding attest, that Canadians do best when we all work together and accept the best of each one of us. As a country, we do best when we are willing to listen to each other and learn from each other and build that into the immense multicultural tapestry we call Canada.

New Westminster—Burnaby perhaps is a bit of a hallmark for the rest of the country, with 150 languages and all major religions found within it. I would like to think that is how we all want to see Canada. I would like to think that we all believe in the acceptance of each other and that we all believe in not promoting division but rather in promoting unity and working together, regardless of our diverse countries of origin and creed. On behalf of my party, I would like to say that we support this legislation as a small step in that direction.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

April 17th, 2018 / 5:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise and speak in support of Bill S-210.

Bill S-210 proposes to repeal the short title 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, which received royal assent on June 18, 2015. The short title found in section 1 of Bill S-7, is the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. It must be noted that it is this title, not the substance of that piece of legislation, that is the subject of the bill we are currently debating.

As hon. members are probably aware, the act we are proposing to amend sought to strengthen measures that prevent things like early and forced marriage, and to better protect women and girls in Canada. However, I wish to note that during the process Parliament took to review Bill S-7, there was considerable criticism of the bill's short title from stakeholders, senators, members of Parliament, committee witnesses, and the media. These groups opposed the title, emphasizing it had the potential to build divisions in Canadian society by targeting certain communities.

In the view of the government, the use of the word “barbaric” in the short title of Bill S-7 is inflammatory and potentially divisive. It has the potential to breed fear of certain groups of immigrants, and in doing so, it distracts from the key goal of the legislation, which is to help protect women of all cultural backgrounds. Stakeholders have also noted that the title of the bill needs to be more neutral and that it should reflect the content of the bill rather than using such emotionally charged terms like “barbaric”. It is particularly harmful to deliberately link the terms “barbaric” and “cultural”.

Let me be clear. Violence against women takes many different forms and affects millions of women and girls in Canada and around the world regardless of religion, nationality, or culture. In her presentation to parliamentarians, Avvy Go, the director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, argued that the title could invoke racist stereotypes. She added that it could detract from Canadians having a real and honest discussion about domestic violence and from seeing domestic violence for what it really is, namely, an issue of gender inequality and not an issue of cultural identity.

Allow me to note some other comments. Lawyer Chantal Desloges stated that the short title deters citizens from engaging in meaningful discussion of the bill's actual content. Dr. Rupaleem Bhuyan, a professor in the University of Toronto's faculty of social work, told committee members that the title was misleading from the serious issues that this bill seeks to address.

Finally, representatives from the Canadian Bar Association and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants raised concerns about the divisiveness of the short title.

As we see from these examples, this title has prompted considerable concern from many individuals and organizations. This is partly why the government supports Bill S-210 to repeal the short title of Bill S-7. Repealing this title is a symbolic step, but one that carries real meaning and consequence because, as we all know, language matters.

I would propose to hon. members that for one culture to consider itself morally superior over another serves only to divide our world. It fosters sentiments of xenophobia and is destructive, especially in our increasingly globalized world. Our responsibility as elected members is not to perpetuate misguided ideas or divisive language that could shape Canadian society.

The government's support for Bill S-210 demonstrates our commitment to openness, acceptance, and generosity in the Canadian immigration process. It reflects our commitment to accuracy and to avoiding language that is misleading, inflammatory, and divisive. Finally, it reflects our commitment to protecting vulnerable individuals in Canada, especially women and children.

Diversity is at the heart of our success as a nation and of what we offer the world. We are deeply committed to promoting inclusion and acceptance, which are some of the key pillars of Canadian society. The success of the diverse newcomers who migrate to Canada supports our success as a strong and united country.

We must ensure that our words, especially the words we use to describe our laws, reflect the openness that is the cornerstone of Canada's place in the world. This bill, if passed by Parliament, would remove the short title of Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, that was adopted during the last parliamentary session. This is the bill's only provision and does not propose to make any other changes adopted through the passage of Bill S-7.

In summary, the government's support for Bill S-210 would remove the short title of the current legislation, a title that can promote division and intolerance and that can also be seen as targeting specific communities. On that basis, the government supports Bill S-210. I would encourage my honourable colleagues to support this bill to foster an open, tolerant, and inclusive Canada. Diversity is our strength. We know that Canada has succeeded culturally, politically, and economically because of our diversity, not in spite of it.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

April 17th, 2018 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to rise today to close the second hour of debate at second reading on Bill S-210, an act to amend 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.

The purpose of Bill S-210 is simple and straightforward. It would repeal the short title of Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, which was passed into law in the previous Parliament.

As I stated in the first hour of debate, there is no place for this language in legislation. It is inappropriate to associate culture with barbaric practices. This was reflected in testimony on Bill S-7 at committee, where numerous stakeholder groups objected to the inclusion of the word “culture” in the bill's short title. Senator Mobina Jaffer brought forward Bill S-210 to fix this.

The former minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship, the hon. John McCallum, who was the Liberal immigration critic in the previous Parliament, also raised our party's objections to the inclusion of the word “culture”. Senator Salma Ataullahjan, the original sponsor of Bill S-7, has also indicated her support for the removal of the short title.

In her remarks on Bill S-210, my colleague from Vancouver East put the importance of this legislation in clear terms: words matter. The words we use, especially in this place and in the laws we pass, have consequences. Words reflect the values and ideas we present to the country and to the world. Suggesting that barbaric practices are associated with particular cultures only serves to divide Canadians and fails to communicate constructively to an open and tolerant society.

Canada prides itself on being a multicultural, inclusive society. Diversity is our strength. We know that Canada has succeeded culturally, politically, and economically because of our diversity, not in spite of it. It is important that we exercise care and thoughtfulness in the legislation we put forward. The short title of Bill S-7 is a blatant example of the previous government's attempts to divide Canadians, while doing nothing to advance the substance of the legislation.

I have been fortunate enough to sponsor two private member's bills, Bill C-374 and Bill S-210, which is before us today. I took great care in deciding what pieces of legislation I wanted to advance and sincerely believe in the importance of this legislation.

Language matters, and it is incumbent upon us as legislators to take the utmost care in the words we use. During Bill S-210's first hour of debate, I was disappointed to hear the member for Edmonton West refer to this bill as a waste of time. I find it unfortunate that Conservatives fail to understand this. They continue to demonstrate that they are out of touch with Canadians and would rather divide than unite.

I have the honour to represent a diverse riding that is home to Christians and Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims, first nations and newcomers. This weekend I will have the pleasure of participating in the city of Surrey's Vaisakhi Day Parade, which is the largest of its kind in Canada. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to participate in this year's festival, an important celebration of Sikhs in our communities. The Vaisakhi Day Parade is a proud display of our region's rich cultural tapestry and a demonstration of the diversity we celebrate as Canadians.

Unnecessarily conflating abhorrent and illegal practices with particular cultures is not a productive way in which to recognize and promote Canadian diversity. We do a disservice to our multicultural communities when we grossly misuse language, as was the case with Bill S-7's short title. Bill S-210 presents an opportunity for us to correct this flaw, and I ask all my colleagues to join me in supporting this important piece of legislation.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members’ Business

February 28th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

moved that Bill S-210, An Act to amend 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak on Bill S-210.

Bill S-210 is a straightforward piece of legislation. It proposes to repeal the short title found in section 1 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. The only thing that is affected through Bill S-210 is the removal of the short title.

Bill S-210 was introduced by Senator Mobina Jaffer and having passed third reading in the other place is now before this House for consideration and debate.

Bill S-7 received royal assent on June 18, 2015, with the short title of “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”. It is this short title that the bill before us today proposes to repeal.

As my colleagues may be aware, the act that we are proposing to amend today strengthened efforts to prevent early and forced marriage and to better protect and support vulnerable Canadians, particularly immigrant women and girls. Bill S-7 also inappropriately and unnecessarily paired the words “barbaric” and “cultural” so as to suggest that practices such as forced marriages and polygamy were rooted in cultures external to Canada. In reality, Canada is faced with many of the issues which Bill S-7 sought to address irrespective of any particular culture. Ultimately, the use of the phrase “barbaric cultural practices” was used by the previous Conservative government as a tool of division, and we are presented with an opportunity, and I might say even a duty to fix this.

As Senator Jaffer stated, “What this title implies is simply the recompartmentalizing of things that are already illegal in Canada to attempt to reframe it as though a specific culture promotes these practices and, therefore, to claim that the culture is barbaric.”

During the parliamentary review process, stakeholders, senators, members of Parliament, committee witnesses, and the media criticized the short title. Stakeholders as diverse as the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children and the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic opposed the short title stating that it would create divisions within Canadian society by targeting certain communities.

Avvy Go, the director of the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, stated during her testimony to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that the title “invokes racist stereotypes and fuels xenophobia toward certain racialized communities”. She further went on to say that it “detracts from Canadians having a real and honest discussion about domestic violence and from seeing domestic violence for what it really is, namely, an issue of gender inequality and not an issue of cultural identity”.

Further, representatives from the Canadian Bar Association and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants raised similar concerns about the divisiveness of the short title. Noted immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges also stated that the short title “deters citizens from engaging in meaningful discussion of the bill’s actual content”. Dr. Rupaleem Bhuyan, a professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of social work, also pointed out at committee hearings that the title is “misleading from the serious issues that this bill seeks to address”, and recommended instead attention on promoting gender equality, which is something this government has high on our issues of importance.

Former minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship, the Hon. John McCallum, who was the Liberal immigration critic during debate on Bill S-7, spoke to the bill's short title in the previous Parliament. On the use of the word “cultural” he said:

That word is both offensive and unnecessary. We on this side of the House agree that these practices are barbaric, so we do not object at all to the use of that word. When one inserts the word “cultural”, it carries the implication that there are certain cultures, certain communities that are being targeted. Whether that is in the minds of the Conservatives is something we can debate, but it certainly carries that implication across the country. There is no reason to force that implication to be carried, because as has been pointed out, in terms of polygamy and other barbaric practices, they are certainly not limited to any one community.

He further went on to express:

I do not think the word “cultural” adds anything. It certainly does not add anything to the content of this bill, and it is misleading in that it carries the implication in the minds of some Canadians that this bill is targeting their particular culture or community.

These are just a few examples of voices that spoke out about the short title. As you can see, many individuals and organizations share similar sentiments.

In fact, Mr. McCallum had proposed an amendment to the bill at committee stage that would have seen the word “cultural” removed from its title. The amendment was rejected.

Even Senator Salma Ataullahjan, the original sponsor of Bill S-7, supports removal of the short title. As she put it during debate at third reading:

When I spoke to Bill S-210 at second reading, I affirmed my strong support of Bill S-7 and its intent. However, I also fervently expressed my opposition to its short title, which, in my view, is incendiary and deeply harmful, as it targets a cultural group as a whole rather than individuals who commit the specific acts.

The inappropriate pairing of “barbaric” and “cultural” in order to fuel racist and xenophobic attitudes is not who we are as Canadians. Quite frankly, these attitudes and the impressions that this short title perpetuates have no place in Canadian society.

The phrase “barbaric cultural practices” was used by the former Conservative government to divide Canadians. As were many Canadians, I too was disgusted when the Conservatives announced their so-called barbaric cultural practices hotline, which was a thinly veiled attempt to appeal to the worst in Canadians, an attempt to sow fear of others that would have had Canadians snitching on one another.

This is not who we are as Canadians. We have heard that clearly from Canadians. Such practices are not healthy for democracy. They result in divisiveness and mistrust, and perpetuate discrimination and intolerance.

Today, we have an opportunity to fix an expression of these attitudes in the form of Bill S-7's short title. I am hopeful that all members in this place will join me in supporting the repeal of the short title. Bill S-210 reflects our commitment to openness, acceptance, and generosity in Canada's immigration policies. It reflects our commitment to common sense, and a Canada that does not purposely use inaccurate and inflammatory language to divide us. Of course, it also reflects our commitment to protecting vulnerable individuals in Canada, particularly women and children.

As the Prime Minister has said on numerous occasions, diversity is our strength. Canadians understand this. We know that Canada has succeeded, culturally, politically, and economically, because of our diversity, not in spite of it. Diversity has been, and will continue to be at the heart of our success and of what we offer the world.

The success of immigrants is our success as a strong and united country. As the member of Parliament for Cloverdale—Langley City, I am proud to represent a diverse and inclusive population. Our communities are home to Christians and Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims, first nations and newcomers.

Canada is a modern nation rooted in principles of multiculturalism and diversity. At our core we understand that our different backgrounds, beliefs, and heritage truly make us stronger. They contribute to a cultural tapestry that enhances our collective identity and signals to the world that Canada is an open and welcoming nation.

Canada is a nation of newcomers, and we know that when newcomers succeed, Canada succeeds. I am proud to be a member of a government which welcomed over 40,000 Syrian newcomers during one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. In this act, we demonstrated leadership on the world stage as a progressive, inclusive nation. Resettling refugees is a proud and important part of Canada's humanitarian tradition. It reflects our commitment to Canadians and demonstrates to the world that we have a shared responsibility to help people who are displaced and persecuted.

To play different religious, ethnic, or cultural groups off of one another is simply wrong. It is reflective of a style of politics that Canadians soundly rejected in the last election. Conflating abhorrent practices like polygamy with particular cultures does a disservice to the inclusive and welcoming attitudes that we as Canadians work hard to foster. It inaccurately suggests that these practices are ascribed to particular cultures.

As Senator Jaffer has said, “We can call terrorists barbaric, we can call violence barbaric, but we cannot call cultures barbaric.”

Our words matter, and in this place, they have consequences with implications resonating across our country. The words we use reflect our intentions and the type of nation we want to build as Canadians, as well as a reflection of what we offer to the world.

The strength of our new Canadians is what makes us stronger, and we must be vigilant that our actions and words reflect the openness that our country is known for.

Bill S-210 is straightforward. It would remove a short title that was seen as promoting division and intolerance, and as targeting specific communities. There are no substantive changes to any of the legislation. It is simply the removal of the short title.

I truly encourage all my hon. colleagues to support the bill and to work together to foster an open, generous, tolerant, and inclusive Canada.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members’ Business

February 28th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her work during the last Parliament in trying to bring some reason to the debate that was happening at that time. I know many Canadians were horrified by the actions and words put forward. It really was divisive. As a Canadian who was outside politics at the time, I was horrified with the kind of conversation that was being advanced through the House of Commons.

We have an opportunity to do it right. Bill S-210 is the first step. It would remove the short title, which really is inflammatory and serves no purpose.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members’ Business

February 28th, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-210, an act to amend 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.

The bill we are debating today does nothing but change the short title of the bill that was passed in Parliament a year ago. Let us think about that for a moment. We are debating a bill which its entire purpose is to delete a short title.

When I went door-knocking in 2015, not a single person said that they hoped I could go to Ottawa so I could spend my time debating the changing of a title of a bill. Anyone listening to this debate will probably wonder why Parliament has chosen to spend debate time, committee study time, and so many other aspects of its resources on a bill that does so little.

I could spend my time arguing that this is becoming a hallmark of the Liberal government. It spends far more time, effort, and Canadian taxpayers on gestures rather than taking concrete actions to address challenges facing Canadians. Yesterday's budget is a perfect example of that.

Instead, I will set the context for the reason why Bill S-7 in the last Parliament was necessary and then review the concrete measures that the bill enacted to protect Canadians.

The bill was put forward by our former Conservative government to take action to prevent forced marriage and the so-called honour killings. A British website describes forced marriage as taking place when the bride, groom, or both do not want to get married but are forced by others, usually their families. People forced into marriage may be tricked into going abroad, physically threatened, and/or emotionally blackmailed to do so. Forced marriage is wrong and cannot be justified on any religious or cultural basis. It is a form of violence and/or child abuse and it is a violation of human rights.

Forced marriage also often involves children and young girls. Child marriage often compromises a girl's development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement, and placing her at increased risk of domestic violence.

In June 2017, a Canadian woman named Samra Zafar gave her account to CTV news on why it was so important for us to take action to prevent forced marriage in Canada. I am going to share her story from the article.

She said she was just 16 years old when her mother told her she would be marrying a 28-year-old man in Canada. Think about that, 16 years old and being forced into marriage with a 28-year-old. Against her wishes, Zafar left her Pakistani family's home in the United Arab Emirates and started a new life with her husband in Mississauga.

Over the next decade, she said she endured abuse of all kinds as she raised two daughters and tried desperately to obtain a university degree so she could get out of her marriage. She eventually succeeded and is now speaking out about other child brides and forced marriage, a problem she says is prevalent, even in Canada.

Zafar said, “It’s actually shocking how much it happens here...Since I have started speaking up about it, I get approached by women and girls all the time.”

Forcing very young girls into marriage is a serious global problem. In Canada, marriage laws vary among provinces and territories, with the legal age of marriage generally set at 18. However, in many provinces, a person with consent from both parents can be married at age 16 or 17.

Saadya Hamdani of Plan Canada said, “Those exceptions can lead to forced marriage because the bride’s consent is not explicitly sought...The cultural value that is attached to marriage is a very big problem.”

It is estimated that each year 15 million girls around the world are married before the age of 18. In September 2013, the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario released a report that counted 219 confirmed or suspected cases of forced marriage in Ontario and Quebec in just two years. In 57% of the cases, people were taken out of Canada to get married.

As Canadians, we are moving toward a space of true equality of persons. This means freedom of choice for individuals. It means protecting the vulnerable. It means working toward a Canada where men and women are not forced into situations that result in a lifetime of harm and devastation.

Our former Conservative government knew that Canada was not immune to this issue and took concrete action to help prevent this from happening with Bill S-7. It was created to protect vulnerable men and women from the cultural practices of forced marriage, to protect them from the many consequences such as mental health issues, sexual assault, verbal and emotional abuse, and many others.

To give an overview of the original Bill S-7, I want to highlight a few of the key components.

We amended the existing offence for a legally authorized officiant who knowingly solemnized a marriage contrary to provincial law. To clarify that. this also includes a marriage that was contrary to federal law, including a forced marriage or a marriage under the age of 16.

We created a new offence prohibiting the active and knowing participation in a forced marriage ceremony by any person, including parents or other family members of the person being forced to marry, or the performance of a forced marriage ceremony, whether or not the person is legally authorized to solemnize a marriage.

We created a new offence prohibiting the active and knowing participation in a marriage ceremony involving a person under the age of 16 by any person, including parents or other family members of the person who is underage, or the performance of an underage marriage ceremony, whether or not the person is legally authorized to solemnize a wedding.

We also extended the existing offence of removing a child from Canada for the purpose of having certain offences committed abroad to include the removal of a child for the purpose of a forced marriage or a marriage under the age of 16 outside of Canada.

We introduced a new peace bond that gives the court power to impose conditions on a person when there are reasonable grounds to fear that a forced marriage or a marriage under the age of 16 will otherwise occur.

Bill S-7 also amended the Criminal Code to address concerns that the defence of provocation has been raised in several so-called honour killings in Canada. These cases involved accused persons who killed their wife, sister, or sister's fiancé and alleged that the killing was motivated by their perception that the victims had brought dishonour to their family through their conduct or choices, taking into account their cultural views about appropriate gender roles and behaviour.

Prior to Bill S-7, the defence of provocation allowed persons to commit first-degree murder but seek the more lenient charge of manslaughter by arguing that the victim's conduct provoked them to lose self-control and commit the murder. Prior to Bill S-7, any conduct by the victim, including insults and other forms of offensive behaviour that are lawful, could potentially qualify as provocation if it was found to be sufficient to cause an ordinary person to lose control, if the accused was not expecting it, and if the killing was sudden. Bill S-7 limited the defence of provocation so that the lawful conduct by victims that might be perceived by the accused as an insult, or offend that person or that person's sense of family honour or reputation, could not be used to reduce murder to manslaughter.

From an immigration point of view, the original bill ensures that all who are vulnerable to forced marriage will be protected, from those who are newest to our country to those who are born in Canada.

The fact that the Liberals just want to change the name of the bill but not change any form or substance of the bill affirms that they agree with our previous Conservative government's approach to Bill S-7.

All these changes are common sense and have the potential to save lives, which is what the Liberal government should be spending its time doing. However, the bill we are debating today is another example of the government wasting time while trying to appear progressive through the amendment of a bill made by the Conservatives.

The bill before us today, Bill S-210, does nothing to help solve serious societal problems created by forced marriages and so-called honour killings. Instead, it could be argued that it seeks to distort public understanding of the severity of the impact of issues such as forced marriage and so-called honour killings, by arguing over how harshly we should denounce these practices.

These are typical Liberal tactics, placing before the rights of victims the feelings of those who hold the abhorrent attitude that practices such as these are tolerable. That is why our previous Conservative government put in place Bill S-7 to protect vulnerable Canadians, yet here is the priority of the Liberal government, standing here arguing semantics instead of discussing real change to prevent crimes like forced marriage from happening. How reprehensible. How very Liberal.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members’ Business

February 28th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-210. This bill has quite a long, full title, but seeks to do just one small thing, an important thing, which is to repeal the short title of former Bill S-7.

My New Democrat colleagues and I wholeheartedly support this initiative. Words matter, and when crafting legislation in this place, they matter even more. The words members of this place use, and the words used to craft the laws of a country, set a tone and an example for Canadians. We must always keep that responsibility in mind, and we must always take it very seriously.

I was glad to see Senator Jaffer take on this initiative, encouraged by the broad support it received in the Senate, and happy that the member for Cloverdale—Langley City sponsored this bill in the House of Commons.

Choosing to title Bill S-7 the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” was just that, an intentional choice. This choice was one New Democrats saw at the time as irresponsible at best and dangerous dog-whistle politics at worst. The NDP attempted to change this title during Bill S-7's committee study, but the former Conservative government's minister of immigration had already announced that he would not consider any amendments to the bill.

It is with great privilege that I have held the role as NDP critic for immigration, refugees, and citizenship, as well as multiculturalism, and it is through my time in these roles that I have had the opportunity to understand just how important small initiatives like repealing this inappropriate short title are.

Today, we are faced with a global migration crisis. The United Nations estimates there are over 65 million people forcibly displaced, a level not seen since World War II. Not only are the humanitarian actions we, as Canadians, take to address these global challenges important, but so too are the words we use when discussing it. At the height of the Syrian refugee crisis, many European nations were closing their doors to asylum seekers fleeing a brutal civil war. Anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-Muslim rhetoric had truly taken hold in some places. This was pushed in many corners by far-right nationalist political movements. They discredited the idea of the Syrians fleeing this war, one where we have seen intentional targeting of civilians with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, as economic migrants trying to jump the queue. The rhetoric was effective.

As I have said in the House before, I was shocked to read the quote from our own Prime Minister on November 23 when he took that rhetoric regarding the irregular bordering crossing situation, stating that would-be Canadians needed more than just a desire for a better economic future if they expected to be granted refugee status in this country. Words matter.

Given the rise globally in anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric, as Canadians and especially as parliamentarians, we must do more than just rest on our humanitarian laurels to prevent these ideas from taking hold here. Canada has thus far gone against the trend and we need to work hard to keep it that way. This is important because not only does it shape how we respond to those outside our borders, but how we treat members of our own communities.

I was troubled to see that police-reported hate crimes in Canada continued to rise from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, there were over 1,400 hate crimes reported to police, and 48% of those were motived by hatred of a race or ethnicity. The short title of Bill S-7 shamefully attempted to reframe crimes committed by individuals as normal practices of so-called barbaric cultures. At the time Bill S-7 was tabled, many Canadians saw this as being targeted towards Muslim Canadians.

In my opinion, it was also clear during the Canadian heritage committee's study of systemic racism and religious discrimination that there is a clear segment of our society that is continuing the push to denigrate the culture and heritage of Muslim Canadians. I believe this can unfortunately be seen in our hate crime statistics too.

In 2016, Arab or west Asian Canadians were the target of 112 hate crimes and Muslim Canadians were the target of 139 hate crimes. Combined, this represents 18% of all police reported hate crimes.

While I and my colleagues support Bill S-210, we believe there is much more to be done. Words matter but so do actions.

Coming out of the heritage committee study, New Democrats supported the report tabled in the House and its recommendations for taking action against systemic racism and religious discrimination, including lslamophobia. However, we believed still more could be done. As the NDP representative, I tabled a supplementary report, containing an additional 29 recommendations aimed toward making Canada a more just, fair, and inclusive place.

I was pleased to see in the budget tabled yesterday, a commitment and a recognition for a new national anti-racism plan and a plan to deal with religious discrimination. However, I was disappointed that once again the government was merely committing to consultation.

Words matter but so do actions.

The heritage committee met 22 times over the course of that study, hearing from 78 witnesses, receiving countless written submissions, tabling a 130-page report. The report's first four recommendations outlined how to get moving on a renewed national action plan with a timeline, resources, and measurable outcomes. I hope this consultation process is not going to be a long drawn out one. I hope at the end of the process it will yield a concrete plan that is resourced.

We have seen time and again a pattern of behaviour from the government. It likes to consult but the follow up, not so much.

We have seen that movie played out with electoral reform, which Canadians overwhelming have said they wanted a system where every vote counts. The government decided to ignore all that good advice and the Prime Minister made a unilateral decision to break his own promise to Canadians that the 2015 election would be the last first past the post election.

Worst still, the Prime Minister thumbed his nose at Canadians who participated in the many town halls that many MPs held in their communities and the extensive consultation process on which an all-party committee embarked. Members will excuse me if I am just a little skeptical whenever the government says that it will consult.

We heard loud and clear during the study about the rise of hate crime incidents in Canada. Witnesses said that immediate action should be taken to provide improved training and education to Canada's law enforcement agencies to better understand and recognize when hate was a motivating factor in the commission of a crime. We need to ensure that provinces and territories are resourced with proper hate crime units. The government could do this now. Action matters.

We also heard about under-reporting of hate crime incidents to authorities, often out of fear by victims that they would not be taken seriously. Under-reporting of hate crime incidents is a known fact. The government needs to ensure barriers are removed for victims to come forward. Resourcing a hotline in collaboration with community groups would have done just that. However, that was not part of budget 2018.

Canadians do not want to see victims of hate crime and systemic discrimination to continue to suffer silently. Action matters.

What we also know is that hate is a learned behaviour. We must do more as a society to counter those who teach and promote hate and division.

Given the current climate and the increase in hateful and anti-immigrant rhetoric across the developed world, Canada cannot rest on its laurels when it comes to diversity and inclusion. To ensure that Canada continues to go against those trends, investments must be made in our newcomer communities to ensure they can integrate successfully and thrive. We need to build on the hard work of community groups by investing and supporting organizations that work to strengthen community involvement, civic inclusion, and to develop community leaders. Action matters.

Let us get on with it, with love and courage.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members’ Business

February 28th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
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Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Madam Speaker, I rise this evening in support of Bill S-210, which seeks to repeal the short title of Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.

The purpose of the bill that we are proposing to amend is to prevent early and forced marriage. It also seeks to better protect and support vulnerable Canadians, especially immigrant women and girls.

However, the short title of Bill S-7 has been harshly criticized by stakeholders, senators, members of the House of Commons, witnesses called to appear before committee, and the media. These groups argue that the short title could divide Canadian society by targeting certain communities. At issue is the use of the adjective “barbaric” in the short title of Bill S-7.

Our government believes that it is an inflammatory word that could be quite divisive. Its use could instill fear of certain immigrant groups and divert attention from the main purpose of the bill, which is to protect all women, regardless of their cultural origins.

As a result, people in Canada who defend the rights of victims of forced marriage are calling for this amendment. They believe that the bill should have a more neutral title that reflects the bill's content, rather than one that is emotionally charged.

Some people have pointed out that the title could prevent Canadians from having a truly honest discussion on family violence. Others have criticized the title because it prevents meaningful discussion on the actual content of the bill. Major concerns about the title have been raised by many individuals and organizations.

Our government's support for Bill S-210 demonstrates our commitment to the values of openness, tolerance, and generosity in the Canadian immigration system. It demonstrates our commitment to accuracy and to avoiding terminology that could be seen as misleading, inflammatory, or divisive. Finally, it demonstrates our commitment to protecting vulnerable people in Canada, particularly women and children.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship often say that Canada values diversity and has succeeded culturally, politically, and economically because of our diversity, not in spite of it. This diversity is key to our success and to what we offer to the world.

The short title of Bill S-7 refers to practices that are already illegal in Canada and tries to present them in a new way that implies that one culture in particular promotes those practices and is therefore barbaric. That is inappropriate.

The adjective “barbaric” conjures up images from the colonial era, when the word “barbarian” was used in a negative way to describe some people from other cultures who were seen as strange and uncivilized.

When one culture feels a sense of moral superiority over another, it only serves to divide our society. That feeling fuels xenophobia and is destructive, particularly in this era of growing globalization.

Barbaric acts are not restricted to any one culture, race, ethnicity, or gender. Violence is not perpetrated solely on women who belong to particular cultures, which is why such actions are already illegal in Canada. The bill's short title should be amended because it presents violent acts in a way that suggests certain specific cultures promote them and that those cultures are therefore barbaric.

Keeping the short title affects how Canadians' attitudes and our work as legislators are perceived. This kind of title suggests once again that we should focus only on certain communities rather than fight violence wherever it may be.

I would like to see members of Parliament excise such insinuations from the wording of our laws. As elected representatives, it is our duty not to perpetuate misguided notions and hostile language that can influence Canadian society.

The success of newcomers from diverse backgrounds who settle in Canada contributes to our success as a strong, united country. However, we must take care that the language we use, especially the language we use to describe our laws, reflects the openness for which Canada is known the world over.

In closing, our government supports Bill S-210 to repeal the short title of the act, which may be perceived as promoting divison and intolerance by targeting certain communities. That is why our government supports Bill S-210.

I encourage my hon. colleagues to support it too.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members’ Business

February 28th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in Cree]

[Translation]

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to debate Bill S-210 in the House this evening.

This bill would repeal the title of Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. We need to go back in time to 2014 and 2015, when former minister Chris Alexander decided that he wanted to do wedge politics and divide Canadians, to push people to the side and create a society where we focus on only a small number of our fellow citizens. It was divide and conquer. That is not the type of politics we need in our country. We need to bring people together to work with communities.

This bill is extremely important, because it would correct egregious harm that has been done to many cultural communities in our country. It was introduced in December 2015, shortly after our government came to power. It was introduced by Senator Mobina Jaffer. In a speech introducing her bill, which would do nothing more than remove the title of the law, Senator Jaffer said that the use of the term barbaric is an insult to cultures in Canada. She said:

Can we reasonably call terrorists barbaric? Yes. Are certain acts against humanity barbaric? Yes. Would any reasonable person agree with these points? Yes. Do I agree with those points? Yes.

The issue here, frankly, is the pairing of the words “barbaric” and “cultural.” By pairing these two words, we are instead removing the agency from the individual committing an action that is clearly wrong and associating it instead with the cultural group at large.

We are implying that these practices are part of cultures and that these cultures are barbaric. We have heard this all too often in our country before. Think of “the savage” and “the uncivilized”, where we demonize the other. Instead of looking for ways we can build a common understanding and look at other viewpoints, we demonize the other and push them to the side, push them to the edge of our country, push them to the edge of Canada.

An National Post article said:

...there is some cross-partisan consensus on the law's title. Conservative Sen. Salma Attaullahjan agrees with Senator Jaffer that “barbaric” is a problematic word. The short title “in my view, is incendiary and deeply harmful as it targets a cultural group as a whole rather than individuals who commit specific acts,” Attaullahjan said [in a] Monday evening [debate] in the Senate.

“Through conversations with my community, I heard from most that they felt the short title was directed solely at them and that from their perspective it served only to further stigmatize and alienate them from the community at large.”

I have also spoken to members of my community in Winnipeg Centre. There are many cultural groups that feel stigmatized by the use of this title, which they believe is a use of wedge politics that pushes people to the edge. This obviously is not right, and this is not who we are and should be as Canadians. We must be better.

I am very proud of the government, which is committed to addressing gender-based violence and protecting the most vulnerable. Our government has taken deliberate and tangible action toward this goal, as in our budget 2018, with pay equity and ensuring that we have gender-based analysis. I also believe that our government is deeply committed to promoting inclusion and acceptance, which are some of the key pillars of Canadian society.

While Bill S-7 was aimed at strengthening protection for women and girls, the reference to barbaric cultural practices in the title creates divisions, promotes harmful stereotypes, and fuels intolerance by targeting specific cultural communities. It has been perceived as offensive and incendiary by certain communities and stakeholder groups that serve immigrants, as it targets cultural groups as a whole rather than individuals who commit specific illegal acts.

When I was in the army, I had the opportunity of attending a junior leadership course, which is now named the practical leadership course, back in 2000. In this course, we learned about the principles of leadership. We learned how to be a better leader. One of the things we talked about was to never punish the entire group for the actions of one individual, but to correct the actions of that individual and to make sure to build morale in the group, for when we attack the entire group for no apparent reason, it becomes arbitrary and it does destroy the morale of the unit that we are in. People in the army, most if not all, believe in a better Canada and are representative of Canadian society. These rules can apply equally to what we do in government.

This inflammatory language, in my opinion, detracts from the substance of the bill and takes the focus away from the discussion of real problems and looking for real solutions. Let us be clear about this. Violence against women takes many different forms and affects millions of women and girls in Canada and around the world, regardless of religion, nationality, or culture. Repealing this title is a symbolic step but one that carries real meaning and consequence. Language matters.

This change is in line with what our government is attempting to do, building on openness, diversity, and inclusion. In the last election, Canadians rejected the Conservatives' dog-whistle politics, their divisive tactics, their stigmatizing of different communities, and their ill-fated ideas like the barbaric cultural practices hotline, with 1-800-barbaric-cultures or 1-800-barbaric-peoples. Diversity is our strength. We know that Canada has succeeded culturally, politically, and economically because of our diversity, not in spite of it.

I support Bill S-210, as do the people of my community of Winnipeg Centre. We support Bill S-210. This is important.

I would like to reiterate what Bill S-7 was about, which was passed under the previous government. It was passed in 2015 and sought to address such issues as early and forced marriage, polygamy, and domestic violence. The act amended the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act, and the Criminal Code to strengthen existing inadmissibility provisions by adding new inadmissibility for practising polygamy in Canada, codify existing requirements for consent and monogamy in marriage, set a new minimum standard national age for marriage, and strengthen the Criminal Code offences related to early and forced marriage and so-called honour-based violence.

The Liberals supported Bill S-7 but argued against the terminology in the bill of “barbaric cultural practices” and noted that the bill targeted practices that were already against the law. However, the government of the day missed the opportunity with Bill S-7 to address these issues in a more tangible manner. At the committee stage, the opposition critic at the time, the good John McCallum, my good friend, proposed an amendment that we remove the word “cultural” from the title, noting that if the title were perceived as an attack on many communities and it did more harm than good, then perhaps we should look at a different title. The amendment was defeated, unfortunately.

Numerous stakeholders have expressed strong concerns about the use of the words “barbaric cultural practices”, arguing that they stigmatize communities and create divisions while doing nothing to help address real issues. Stakeholders who have commented in opposition to the bill's title include the Canadian Bar Association, the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children, and the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, among others.

Let us fight for inclusiveness. Let us build bridges. Let us build understanding. Let us fight for all Canadians, not just those who we believe are our friends but truly all Canadians, for we are all in this together.

[Member spoke in Cree]

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

January 31st, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill S-210, An Act to amend 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.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce Bill S-210, an act to amend 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.

Senator Jaffer tabled this bill in the Senate because the use of the words “barbaric” and “cultural” together, in a short title, reframes the discussion of crimes such as forced marriage, polygamy, and female genital mutilation. Putting the words “barbaric” and “cultural” together in the same phrase is socially irresponsible, morally reprehensible, and frankly, repugnant. This phrasing removes responsibility for horrific actions from an individual and instead associates the crime with a culture or a community.

There is no place for phraseology such as “barbaric cultural practices” in today's society. The bill would remove this archaic and misplaced terminology from being referenced in Canada's statutes.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)