Mr. Speaker, it is not just polygamy but those who participate in forced marriages or help to arrange them, or female genital mutilation, all of which we consider to be barbaric practices. Yes, it is a strong term. It is a judgmental term, but we do sometimes need to make judgments. We sometimes need to use legislation as a teaching opportunity.
I will be absolutely blunt. When I first came to government and started as minister of multiculturalism eight years ago, for political reasons I would have probably recoiled at the name of this bill. However, my enormous exposure to and close work with the huge diversity of our cultural and faith communities taught me something over the course of time. It taught me that the vast majority of new Canadians believe passionately that there are certain hallmarks of integration into this country that we must all respect, that there is a duty to integrate, and that there are certain practices that are rooted in custom or tradition that have no place in Canada.
It is those new Canadians who gave me the inspiration, the confidence, to speak frankly and to not be encumbered, quite frankly, by political correctness on these matters. It was those new Canadians who asked me why we tolerate these things in Canada, which they fled such countries to escape. They said, “Please do not tolerate female genital mutilation, forced marriages, or polygamy. Please stop this. We see it happening in our own communities”. It was women who were victims of forced marriages, including here in Canada, who most strongly motivated the bill.
I want to give credit to the Minister of Health who during her time as minister for Status of Women heard the same message from women, such as Aruna Papp and so many other women, who said to us, “Please take strong measures. Please use strong language. Please condemn these practices. Please close the loopholes”. This bill is dedicated to all of those women who were voiceless.